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Sao Paulo Rolling down the Highway. Photo: Liam Low.

Sao Paulo

Play City

Thursday 2 – Saturday 11 July 2020

The unsolicited structures temporarily deployed along the Minhocão elevated highway for the 2019 Visiting School São Paulo High Line workshop, unexpectedly inspired both adults and children to play. 

A group of skater-girls spontaneously cruised through the tunnel wave-like structure of one project, while small children ran in, out and on a jungle-gym- like structure of another, and a massive bamboo ball, reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark, was rolled down the highway as the sun set.  

The bursts of laughter and delight were in direct contrast to the derelict buildings and decaying infrastructure created by the modernist elevated highway that tore apart the city fabric in the 1960s. 

In a city characterized by uncontrolled privatization and a severe lack of public space, these spontaneous moments of diversion on the highway created a type of consciousness of the urban realm and a sense of urban citizenship and community. 

The 2020 Visiting School São Paulo will posit itself on the premise that playful cities can stimulate awareness and activism, and work on creating permanent novel playful structures for a re-appropriation of the urban space of downtown São Paulo.

As described by the title of Siobhan Roberts’s article in the New York Times about the 2019 Highline Workshop  “Mending an Urban Fabric With Geometry and Bamboo” the 2020 workshop will further develop these urban interventions that can bring about new public connectivity.   

With further exploration of these parametrically-designed hand-woven structures, the workshop will be led by weaving artist Alison Martin @alisonmartin57 and structural engineer James Solly of and incorporate bamboo, crochet and knitting systems (with the help of local artisans), aiming to create a fabrication system that city habitants can locally source and easily mount.

Prominent Features of the workshop/ skills developed

- Analog and Digital mathematical methods for the development of weaving systems, incorporating complex curvature.
- Analog and Digital Form-finding, using structural plug-ins like Kangaroo Physics, K2Engineering and others custom scripts in the Grasshopper plugin for Rhino.
- Fabricating large-scale bamboo and crochet structures informed by the digital and small-scale analog structures.


1) You can make an application by completing the online application found under ‘Links and Downloads’ on the right-hand column of this webpage. If you are not able to make an online application, please contact the Visiting School Office for instructions to pay by bank transfer or by telephone.

2) Once you complete the online application and make a full payment, you are registered onto the programme. Please note that a deposit payment holds your place on the course but does not confirm it. A CV or a portfolio is not required.

3) Scholarships are available for current and former Escola da Cidade students. Please contact the Visiting School Office for further details.

The deadline for applications is: 18 June 2020


The workshop is open to current architecture and design students, PhD candidates and young professionals. Software Requirements: Adobe Creative Suite, Rhino (SR7 or later).


Escola da Cidade Rua Gen. Jardim, 65
Vila Buarque
São Paulo – SP, 01223-011


The AA Visiting School requires a fee of £695 per participant, which includes a £60 Digital Membership fee, payable by all participants.

Fees do not include flights or accommodation, but accommodation options can be advised. Students need to bring their own laptops, digital equipment and model making tools.


All participants travelling from abroad are responsible for securing any visa required, and are advised to contact their home embassy early. After full payment of course fees, the AA School can provide a letter confirming participation in the workshop.


All participants are responsible for securing their own travel and health insurance. Please ensure that your travel insurance also covers your personal belongings i.e. laptop, equipment, tools, passport etc. The AA takes no responsibility for lost/ stolen property.


Alison Grace Martin (@alisonmartin57) is an independent researcher studying natural structures and complex patterns in nature and applying the findings to design and construction concepts. She makes experimental lightweight structures from bamboo in which the symbiotic connection between craft and digital processes is evidenced. Her research has led to analysis and development of weaving patterns which are related to topology and materials geometry. She believes traditional fibre-work can be pushed beyond normal expectations in order to expose relationships with complex surface visualization and structural morphology leading to construction of scaleable lightweight structures with innovative form and performance capacities. She studied at Exeter College of Art and St. Martin’s College of Art and Design, graduating in Graphic Design in 1979. In 2015 she won the “Future Visions” contest organised by the International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures, for an innovative pavilion design. Recent collaborations with CITAstudio KADK, Central St. Martins, CODAU PC Barcelonatech, Architecture Faculty TUMünchen. Her work has been shown at MoMath, (NY), Institut für MathematikTU Berlin, MuSe (Trento), Institut d’Etudes Avancées d’Aix-Marseille (IMéRA). She runs courses in UK and European universities exploring geometric principles and mathematical rules that underlie weaving and 3D mesh-making.

James Solly is a Director at Format Engineers and a Teaching Fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture. He previously worked at Ramboll UK and BuroHappold before taking a fulltime academic role at the University of Stuttgart between 2015 and 2018. At the ITKE, under Professor Jan Knippers, he was a member of the Innochain Network and his research focussed on the development of design methods for FRP (glass and carbon fibre) lattice structures. He returned to London and his current role at Format in 2018. James’s interests lie in the use of current computational design and engineering techniques to enable early feedback and to allow playful interaction with novel material systems.Format Engineers is a collective of engineering designers with backgrounds in structures, coding, mathematics and architecture. We believe in the day-to-day exploitation of digital technology as a creative tool for the production of designs that are appropriate, lean and beautiful.

Franklin Lee and Anne Save de Beaurecueil have been directors of the AA Visiting Schools São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro since 2010 and have run a series of workshops that bring leading architects from around the world to rethink the Brazilian urban landscape through combining cutting-edge technology and critical theoretical exploration with local culture, material and labor sources. They are also design directors of SUBdV Architecture, using a mixture of high and low design technologies to generate socially and environmentally responsive geometries for architecture, furniture and urban design projects. They were AA Diploma Unit 2 Masters from 2005 to 2010 and taught at the Pratt Institute and Columbia University in New York, from where they both also received Master’s degrees. They have published, exhibited and lectured about their work worldwide.

Escola da Cidade


Programme Head
Anne Save de Beaurecueil
Franklin Lee

Head of Visiting School

Christopher Pierce

T +44 20 7887 4014
F +44 20 7414 0782

Links & Downloads


Programme site

Social Media


Visiting School Prospectus


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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Diploma), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.