First Year A collection of First Year works questioning spatial organisations with iterations, 2017-18.

First Year

Head of First Year Programme Monia De Marchi Studio Masters Monia De Marchi, Pol Esteve Castelló, Costandis Kizis, Nacho Martí, John Ng, Alexandra Vougia (on maternity leave), Simon Withers, Erika Suzuki Studio Tutors Argyris Angeli, Delfina Bocca, Patricia Mato-Mora, Anna Muzychak, Sara Saleh, Amelia Vilaplana

First Year at the AA is a student's initial exposure to the year study of architecture which ends with the AA Diploma. Architecture affects and is affected by a wide temporal context. In the First Year Studio we engage with the present, study the past, and challenge what is yet to come.

Our focus is learning and discovering by paying attention to our immediate context and the world at large and by taking forward the richness of our discipline. Architects have the responsibility to see beyond what exists. Translating complex forces and information into new spatial constructs, architects constantly nurture and refresh their skills, tools and methods towards the development of a project and agenda.

The First Year is characterised by a studio-based environment of learning through making. The works we make are constantly shared, discussed, pushed forward and explored alongside those of architects, artists, writers, philosophers and thinkers that constantly question and challenge how we live.

The studio environment allows each student to study with specific tutors for a given brief in a highly focused manner while simultaneously being in close contact with other takes and approaches. Learning at the AA is encapsulated in thinking through making, by being exposed to multiplicities of methods and experimentation.

Over the course of the year, we approach studying architecture as a way of thinking projectively: we are challenged to look beyond what is apparent and to be adaptive in our thinking. Students sharpen an affinity for thinking independently, they learn to constructively engage with different audiences by sharing their discoveries in the development of a year-long portfolio, informed by various modes of writing, making and arguing.


Do you know how to capture the future? This year we pay close attention to particular shifts that characterise our current world, and study and expose how they enable certain spatial characteristics and qualities. The present already encapsulates futures. Are changes really occurring too fast or are we too slow to imaginatively embrace alternatives in spatial constructs, novel skills and expertise? Technologies, forms of making, global communities and modes of communication have been reshaping modes of life. This multiplicity has been rapidly moving in our foreground: countercultures have made their presence felt by constructing ad-hoc spatial alternatives, while extensive technologies have been homogenizing spaces.

The First Year Studio is constructed around six common explorations where current questions are studied in relation to specific architectural topics.


We will search spaces and how they are made by focusing on what is symptomatic of our present moment. What is shaping and enabling alternative building typologies? Are digital technologies triggering spatial inventions? And how is the built environment made? What are the economies of re-making?


The second part of the year is focused on questioning what defines spaces. How are spaces regulated? The coding of sensations can construct pleasures instead of controlling behaviours: responsiveness of materials, regulation of artificial lights, noise levels, and so on, will be explored through testing and making. Can we master some of these parameters and conditions?


Towards the middle of the academic year we will imagine and construct modes of life shaped by unpredictable settings and challenge how they are translated into work that provokes unexpected thoughts. Who is the audience? And how do we communicate? Through re-enactments, forms of activism, visual forecasts and rational arguments, we will explore how our work constructs and engages with an audience.

Throughout the academic year, we will actively construct relations between processes, tools and agendas that open up multiple possibilities for exploring and expanding our study of architecture.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Monia De Marchi is an architect who graduated from the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice (distinction) and holds an MArch from the AA DRL. She has previously worked for Zaha Hadid Architects and had her own practice working on architecture projects while collaborating with different disciplines. She has taught at the AA since 2005 in the Diploma School and from 2011 as Head of the First Year.

Argyris Angeli studied Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens and Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received an MFA from the AAIS with distinction. He is the co-director of Gesamtatelier, an interdisciplinary artist's platform, and has presented work in exhibitions, festivals, conferences and competitions across Europe and the USA.

Delfina Bocca works as an architect at Zaha Hadid and has previously worked in the UK, Italy and Argentina. She holds an MArch from the AA DRL and is a registered architect in Argentina, where she completed her studies. She has participated in numerous workshops and taught at schools in both Argentina and the UK.

Pol Esteve is an architect who graduated from Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitectura de Barcelona in 2009. He holds an MA in History and Critical Thinking from the AA and is a PhD candidate at the Bartlett. He is the co-founder of GOIG architecture studio. He is director of the AA Visiting School in Brussels and teaches on the First Year programme.

Costandis Kizis holds a PhD from the AA, an MSc in Advanced Architectural Design from GSAPP Columbia University and a Diploma in architecture from NTU Athens. He has taught at the AA, Central St Martins and Leeds Beckett University.

Nacho Martí is a graduate of the Elisava School of Design in Barcelona and the AA. He founded his design studio in 2004 and since then his projects have been exhibited, published and awarded internationally. In addition to teaching in the First Year he is a Technical Studies lecturer and director of the AA Visiting School Amazon.

Patricia Mato-Mora studied architecture at the AA before studying materials at the RCA. She now works alongside artists and architects to realise large-scale projects employing various craftsmanship methods, while practising independently as an artist.

Anna Muzychak is an AA graduate currently working at Ben Adams. She has taught on the AA Summer School and Intermediate School and co-ran a vertical studio at Cardiff University. Anna's interests lie at the intersections between architecture, material systems and construction technology.

John Ng studied architecture at the University of Bath and the AA, where he has taught since 2011. He is also a visiting lecturer at the RCA. He founded ELSEWHERE and practises architecture in London. His work has been shortlisted for, and has won, a number of international competitions.

Sara Saleh obtained her degree in architecture at the American University of Sharjah and holds an MArch from the AA DRL. Previously she worked for Zaha Hadid Architects (2010?17) on projects in the Middle East including Kapsarc in Saudi Arabia and on furniture/product collections such as the liquid glacial and varied Citco marble collections.

Erika Suzuki is an architect and the founding partner of Office Ten Architecture. She holds a BEng and MEng in architecture from Tokyo Metropolitan University and a DipArch and MArch (distinction) from the Bartlett. She has designed and delivered a variety of projects including, residential, offices and cultural buildings while working in Tokyo, Paris and London.

Amelia Vilaplana is an architect (University of Alicante) and holds an MA in Critical Theory from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art). She is a co- founder of Vilaplana &Vilaplana studio, and her work has received different architecture awards. She has previously taught in the University of Alicante.

Alexandra Vougia studied architecture in Thessaloniki, Greece, holds an MS in Advanced Architectural Design from GSAPP, Columbia University, and a PhD from the AA. She has worked as an architect in New York and Athens and has taught at the AA since 2012.

Simon Withers has a background in fashion, experimental lm and architecture having been Vivienne Westwood's design assistant and a partner in an architectural practice and he also holds a degree in fine art/experimental lm from Central St Martin's. He teaches at the AA in First Year and as thesis supervisor for Design + Make programme. He is also a thesis supervisor at the Bartlett and at the University of Greenwich.

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Extended Brief

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Projects Review 2018

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Prospectus 2018-19
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Special Programmes Course Booklet
Special Programmes Course Booklet

Undergraduate Course Booklet
Undergraduate Course Booklet


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