Cambodia House on Boeng Keot

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But Does It Float? - In Search of Praxis 2.0

Monday 15 – Monday 29 July 2019

The ‘But Does it Float? In Search of Praxis 2.0’ Visiting School will explore how architecture can be used to address the challenges that water creates in the monsoon-drenched Cambodian province of Takeo. Central to the culture of the Khmer people, who live there, is their ability to evade, absorb and rise above the ever-present murky waters. We will explore the innovative ways they do this, as well as the work of Khmer modernist architects and local Angkorian craftspeople. Gliding in palm tree canoes, we will trace the Mekong River and document the nearby vernacular stilt houses. In particular, we will continue our search for ‘praxis’ – the way which architects engage with the world – in order to apply this to our own projects. A key question will be: how can architecture confront gravity with buoyancy? Working at three scales (human body, house and city), we will repurpose local materials and challenge local construction methods. Finally, we will build a floating structure that will sail through Takeo, and play a vital role in hosting the local area’s summer festivities.

Prominent Features of the workshop/ skills developed

Re/search – We will work in groups to develop a personal design brief within the local context.
Design – Through photography, hand-drawings and model making, we will test how architectural knowledge can be communicated and translated into 1:1 maquettes
Situate – We will make a day trip to Phnom Penh and see the most important modern architecture of Cambodia by Vann Molyvann. Pen Sereypagna, Director of the Vann Molyvann Project, will take us on a walking-tour through his work.
Make – We will work closely with local workshops and craftsman to materialise our designs. Juggling between the role of a client, architect and laborer we search for the unique design potential latent within each position.   
Celebrate – Thnout Village School will be our workshop and site where we share our projects with the students and their families. Our interventions will be a celebration of how the pursuit of education and design can bring communities together.


1) You can make an application by completing the online application found under ‘Links and Downloads’ on the AA Visiting School page. If you are not able to make an online application, email for instructions to pay by bank transfer.
2) A CV and one drawing / image of your work is required. Please send these through to
3) Once you have submitted your image and CV, complete the online application and make a full payment to register onto the programme.

The deadline for applications is 10 July 2019.

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


Phsa Takao Village, Rokakhung Commune, Dunkeo District,Takeo Province, Cambodia.

Please note: We will arrange transportation once you landed Phnom Penh International Airport. Please give us your flight details once confirmed or let us know your alternative mode of transport.


The AA Visiting School requires a course fee of £595 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting membership fee.
Fees do not include flights or accommodation. All participants will need to make a contribution of £250 towards food and accommodation in Takeo (to be paid directly to the Programme Heads upon arrival).

Students need to bring their own laptops, digital equipment and model making tools. Please ensure this equipment is covered by your own insurance as the AA takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen at the workshop.


The workshop is open to current architecture and design students, PhD candidates and young professionals. We accept students with a background in art or design and must enjoy collaboration and teamwork.


James Mak is the Founder and Chairperson of Project Little Dream (PLD), a charity that designs, builds and runs primary schools in Cambodia since 2009. With a strong belief that architecture is a fundamental agent in a developing context, his researches in vernacular spaces in post-conflict Cambodia. He currently teaches part-time in Diploma 1 of the AA. He has a background in human geography and architecture, and was educated in the London School of Economics and the AA where he obtained his BA(Hons) and AA Diploma.

Alison Cheng is an Executive Director for Project Little Dream (PLD).  She develops educational and architectural projects in the rural Cambodia, ranging from libraries and sanitation facilities to installations and product design.  Alison is educated at the Architectural Association and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and currently work in London.

Collaborators: Project Little Dream; Vann Molyvann Project; Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh.



Programme Heads
James Mak
Alison Cheng

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


The Architectural Association, Inc. is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee (No.171402) and registered as a charity (No. 311083). Registered office: 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES, 020 7887 4000

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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 Certificate), 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.