Diploma 2 Alex Chan Leong Nin, Inhabitable Skins, Diploma 2, 2017–18


Kostas Grigoriadis, Elia Zenghelis

‘The machine man only designs, he no longer builds but leaves the building to other specialists; he no longer builds for himself but only for others; this is the architect of today.’
–Frederick Kiesler, Pseudo-Functionalism in Modern Architecture, 1949

Architect and philosopher Frederick Kiesler was to denounce the determinacy of functionalism arguing that it failed to reconcile itself with the volatility of lived experience. He would seek, instead, a greater continuity between the ‘physical’ and ‘psychic conditions’ of twentieth century life through design.

Fast forward to today, and we find ourselves in a world engulfed by technocracy and multimedia. Kiesler’s work has reached its apex in the increasing sophistication of everyday apparatus and internet-enabled devices, the preponderance of which has led to a phenomenon termed ‘digital amnesia’ – forgetting information and trusting a digital device to remember it for you.

This relationship between mind and matter, as we will enquire, underpins a range of significant questions for twenty-first century design. Can we design for new living paradigms, peculiar existences and materially advanced habitats? Can the augmented, information-impregnated material matrix within which we exist, become an integral part of the way contemporary living is organised and practised?

This unit represents an inquiry into the true architectural, spatial, noetic and communicative spectrum of contemporary life. In the contexts of today’s cultural climate – and the existential conflation of life and work – Living Matters will challenge current materialist perceptions. We will explore and investigate inhabitation and interiority so as to merge these introspective ideas with broader definitions of matter, space and living and explore the possibility of a Kieslerian continuity in the present.

The unit will be supported by Elia Zenghelis, the unit's visiting critic, who will run one workshop per term. These workshops will highlight the concepts of domesticity and the related institutions as formative agents in the principles, theories, and tenets adopted for making the city, whilst critically examining their strengths as well as their weaknesses.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Kostas Grigoriadis holds a PhD in Architecture by Project from the RCA and a Master's in Architecture and Urbanism from the AA's DRL. He has previously worked for Foster + Partners in London and held a Visiting Lectureship at the RCA. His work focuses on new material design methodologies and draws from cognitive and materialist theory.

Elia Zenghelis studied and taught at the AA from 1956 to 1987. Co-founder of OMA with Rem Koolhaas in 1975 and partner until 1987, when he established Gigantes Zenghelis Architects in Athens. He has taught Advanced Studio at Yale School of Architecture from 2013 to the present. Recipient of the Annie Spink Award for excellence in education in 2000.

Diploma School


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