Intermediate 12 A found postcard from the collection of A Geometry Office

Isolated but Connected

Taneli Mansikkamäki and Max Turnheim

The surest way to rise above prejudice, and to judge of things in their true relations, is to put ourselves in the place of an isolated man. - Jean Jacques Rousseau, Émile, or Treatise on Education, 1762

The modern metropolis is increasingly built from faceless extrusions of stacked volumes of space and capital. Glass, steel and concrete are organised as efficiently as possible to form a commercially optimal machine for living and working. With today's cities amplifying all the least favourable attributes of the Anthropocene and witnessing a growing interest in virtual reality and tech-fuelled, self-sustainable lifestyles, they could soon become endangered resorts of co-habitation. While a direct critique of the homogenised city would constitute a valid brief, Intermediate 12 will instead imagine its antidote - an extreme urban sprawl to reclaim the land we occupy.

Driven by simultaneous maximisation of local anchorage and a minimisation of ownership, we will start the year by creating our own "desert island discs" of architecture. Our belongings and favourite memories of the city will form a kit of parts - a disordered collection of things and an instrumental bricolage for understanding our environment. A collaboration with goldsmiths will immortalise this process of collecting and will allow us to speculate on a post-digital habitat in an increasingly automated society where proximity to saturated urban centres has become questionable.

The core of the architectural experimentation for the students is mixing together local raw materials in building processes and researching traditional techniques and digital tools to blur the existing dichotomy between digital and natural. In addition to building large-scale models, we will be working with triptychs that describe a place and the project in relation to time, atmosphere and context. By bringing together sound, video or photography, physical and digital models, we will research the possibility of projects becoming speculative and layered architectural instances.

Unit Staff

Taneli Mansikkamäki is an architect and musician and has taught at the AA since 2011. He is a founder of A Geometry Office based in London. His background is in interdisciplinary media practices with an interest in sound, space and geometry. Since relocating to London he has worked with several architectural offices, including the late Jan Kaplický's Future Systems.

Max Turnheim is an architect based in Paris. His work focuses mainly on the relationship between architecture and its hosting regime and ranges from domestic spaces to urban projects. Notable works include La Barre, on display at the FRAC Centre (2017); the urban plan of Tirana's Lake Park Entrance; and Maison Garder. Parallel to his practice, he has taught in numerous French schools of architecture.


AA School of Architecture Admissions (Undergraduate)
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

T: +44 (0)20 7887 4051
F: +44 (0)20 7414 0779

Links & Downloads

More Details

Extended Brief

Projects Review 2017

More Information


Prospectus 2017-18
AA Prospectus

Foundation Course Booklet
Foundation Course Booklet

Undergraduate Course Booklet
Undergraduate Course Booklet


Share |

The Architectural Association, Inc. is a Registered Charity Incorporated as a Company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No.171402. Registered office: 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES, 020 7887 4000

Click here to read the AA’s latest review report.

Click here to read the AA’s latest action plan.