Intermediate 5 Paolo Pisano, Intermediate 5 (2015-16), Thirty years (of architecture) slowly go by

0° 00' 05.3101"

Ryan Dillon

This is a tale of two lines and 340ft. It all started in 1810 when a 'young snob' named George Biddell Airy invented a peashooter robust enough to nail his most adversarial schoolmates. Emboldened by his legumes of mushy mass destruction and the possibilities of machines as a motor for change, the pioneering marksman set out to construct contraptions that would eventually alter our conception of time. In 1835, on his appointment as Royal Astronomer, Airy looked to the sky, stars and planets to mark his place on planet Earth and ultimately developed the Airy Transit Circle, a telescope that determined 0° longitude in Greenwich, London - better known today as the Prime Meridian. Airy, however, could have done with some GPS - launch Google Maps at the Royal Observatory and you'll soon discover that his 1851 line is off by 340ft and the actual 0° happens to be unintentionally marked by a rubbish bin.

Intermediate 5 will straddle the 1851 Prime Meridian (0° 00' 05.3101"), continuing its urban explorations along a colinear slice through London that unveils the diversity of the city's architectures, infrastructures, cultures and inhabitants. This will open up investigations into everyday life and the flows of the city, as well as the arbitrariness of time along a line. With time as our guide these examinations will provide students with a series of social, technological, time-based and sometimes playfully random constraints as catalysts for generating the central aim of each unit project - a material architectural intervention.

Synthesising urban exploration and design, students will translate ideas through two- and three-dimensional drawing, writing and physical material studies that will all be governed by some construct of time. Focusing on current social and physical contexts and technological advances, Intermediate 5's objective is to use the fourth dimension as a line of demarcation within the built environment, resulting in architectural proposals that optimistically alter our perception of everyday life.

Unit Staff

Ryan Dillon studied architecture at Syracuse University and holds an MA from the AA's Histories and Theories programme. He has been Unit Master of Intermediate 5 since 2013 and currently teaches in the AA's undergraduate History & Theory programme and the AA DRL, where he serves as Programme Coordinator. He has also taught at the University of Brighton. He has previously worked at Moshe Safdie Architects on projects such as the Khalsa Heritage Complex and the Peabody Essex Museum.

This year Intermediate 5 will work as a collective bringing together teachers from different backgrounds to enchance the work in a way that allows all participants to convene and brainstorm ideas and talk about architecture. Those involved this year are:

Manja van de Worp + Sylvie Taher
Manja will be joining us throughout the year as support to unit tutorials with a focus on project design development and model workshops. Sylvie will join us for tutorials with a focus on thesis development and portfolio work.

Manja van de Worp trained as an architect and structural engineer at the Technical University of Eindhoven and Emtech at the AA and has been teaching there since. She has worked for Arup in London in the Advanced Geometry Unit, and Advanced Technology and Research group and is now the Principal of NOUS Engineering London. In addition she teaches at the IAAC in Barcelona and runs international workshops dealing with structural geometry.

Sylvie Taher is a writer and architect. She trained at the AA, where she wrote a thesis titled 'Architects vs the City, or the Problem of Chaos'. Her writing as appeared in Publica, Blueprint and The Architectural Review.


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