Intermediate 11 Rafaela Zincone Albieri, Man and Nature, 2017


Silvana Taher , Matilde Cassani

In today’s city, nature plays a distinct but somewhat rudimentary role. It is a beautifying ornament, a security border or – in certain moments of conscientious planning – a pocket of green.

Our relationship to nature today is not hard to understand if we delve into the history books. To number but a few examples, Aristotle declared that nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man. The Bible dictates that man has dominion over every living thing, and, centuries later, René Descartes would write that we are both lord and possessor of nature. In this binary mode of thought only one system can prevail: a coordination of our control over nature as other.

In this unit we will ask students to move beyond this dualistic schema. It is not a matter of one and other, but simply one, in which we and our production of space are seen and understood as the extension of the other, namely the natural. In this system of thought the notion of a living and dying architecture, a blooming architecture, or even a growing architecture are all viable ideas that require an architectural resolution. It is within the confines of this new system of thought that the potential of architectural grafting emerges.

The unit will focus its work in and around Regents Park and the surrounding areas, working with collage and bricolage as its main generative tools. Running a series of workshops with Matilde Cassani and other notable collaborators from across the discipline, we will work between drawing and model-making to develop our ideas through a 1:1 architectural graft. The main trip of the year will take place in December, when we will head to Bangkok to join the AA Visiting School on Trees in the City (run by Mark Cousins and Chittawadi Chitrabongs), and will complement this excursion with a series of short stays in Hooke Park to focus on model-making.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Silvana Taher is an architect and writer who teaches architecture, history and theory at the AA and Central Saint Martins. She was a guest speaker at AA XX 100 in 2018, and her writing appears in AA Files, Blueprint, Achitectural Review and Architect's Journal.

Matilde Cassani teaches at Politecnico di Milano and Domus Academy (Milan). Her work often moves on the border between architecture, installation and performance. She was recently involved in the Chicago Architecture Triennale, Oslo Triennale and Manifesta12.

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