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Environmental and Technical Studies

Technical Studies is now known as Environmental and Technical Studies. This clearly expresses a responsive commitment to the changes in approach, aims and ways of working that the whole AA School has embraced. ETS is committed to a more speculative school and has extended its programmes to include new courses. The aim is to bring about a change in the way we work and research; to launch outside the predictable. The new programmes are open to students from the whole school and will run in parallel with existing ones. This greater emphasis on speculation goes hand in hand with a more intense engagement with the environment, responding to the challenges that confront its future by reconceptualising the ways in which it is currently approached.

Delivered throughout the Experimental and Diploma programmes, ETS offers a complete and coherent technical education, providing students at all stages of their architectural education with the capacity to materialise the ideas, concepts and ambitions born in the work of the units. In other words, it provides the knowledge necessary to make reasoned and informed design decisions: knowledge with a purpose; wisdom.

Inviting creative collaboration with the material demands of individual unit agendas, ETS centres on a series of detailed discussions with experts in the fields of architecture and engineering drawn from several leading research institutions. Engaging a wide range of disciplines and projects, these lectures cultivate a substantial base of knowledge, developed through critical case studies of contemporary fabrication processes, constructed artefacts and building processes that will accommodate critical reflection and invite experimentation with the ideas and techniques taught. Knowledge acquired in this way is inherently practical, generating a means and set of principles capable of negotiating the technical requirements of construction in unforeseen futures and unpredictable contexts.

Lecture courses form a portion of each year’s requirements (with a particular emphasis on the first, second and fourth years). During these years, students concentrate on critical case studies, analyses and material experimentations alongside a selection of required yearly courses ensuring that each student receives a complete experience of different structures, varied materials and diverse environments. The contents of the lecture courses are seen as a unique vehicle to prepare students for the two major technical projects that they have to execute in the third and fifth years. Hence the work of the lecturer and tutor coalesces in the individual student’s design decisions.

In the third year, lecture coursework, workshop experiments and technical ambitions are synthesised in a detailed technical design project (ETS3). Students conduct design research and experiments to explore and resolve the technical issues of the main project of their unit portfolio, with the guidance of ETS tutors. The aspect of experimentation in this project is emphasised because the ability to make informed design decisions in the context of the project is essential. Students are asked and helped to strike a balance between problem solving and discovery through experimentation.

In the Fifth Year, students undertake a Technical Design Thesis (ETS5), a substantial piece of individual work that is developed under the guidance and tutorship of the Environmental and Technical Studies staff. The thesis is contextualised as part of a broader dialogue in which the technical and architectural agendas that arise within the unit are synthesised and its critical development is pursued through case studies, material experiments and extensive research and consultation, leading to informed design decisions that embody the aspirations and ideas of each individual student.

The aim is to integrate the ETS3 and ETS5 work with the unit agendas as much as possible, developing wherever possible the unit’s technical brief and supporting it with additional, specialised information by means of seminars, lectures and research trips. Environmental and Technical Studies aims to reinforce the plurality and variety of the units by adapting the requirements of ETS3 and ETS5 to each individual unit agenda. In order to achieve this, the syllabus of the second and fourth years is purposefully loaded with more information in order to enable students in the third and fifth years to more freely apply acquired knowledge in their final designs. Full details of the programme will be found in the Core Studies course booklet, available at the beginning of the academic year.

Unit Staff

XAVIER AGUILÓ qualified as a Master Engineer in 1999 while working with BAC Barcelona as a structural consultant. He is the Manager of the BAC London office. He is a partner, a member of the main board and is Deputy Building GM of BAC. He teaches Structures in the School of Architecture in the European University of Madrid.

FRANCESCO ANSELMO holds a degree in Architectural Engineering and a PhD in Environmental Physics. He is senior lighting and interaction designer at Arup.

SIMON BEAMES is an architect and director of Youmeheshe architects. He has worked for Foster + Partners and Grimshaw Architects, leading the design team for Battersea Power Station. He has been a diploma Unit Master at the AA and the University of East London.

DELFINA BOCCA has worked as a Senior Architect at Zaha Hadid Architects. She holds an MArch from the AADRL and is a registered architect in Argentina. She has previously worked in the UK, Italy and Argentina. She is a First Year course tutor at the Architectural Association and lectures on materials in Technical Studies. She also leads a unit at Oxford Brookes.

GILES BRUCE is a chartered architect. Currently director of A-ZERO architects, he previously worked in Ireland, Norway and the UK. Giles studied in UCD, Ireland, and graduated from the AA in Sustainable Environmental Design in 2007. He has taught at the Bartlett, the University of Nottingham and the University of East London, and has lectured extensively on environmental design internationally.

JAVIER CASTAÑÓN is the Head of Environmental and Technical Studies and the Diploma Master for the programme. He has degrees from Manchester (BA Hons) the AA (AADip) and Granada (PhD). He has taught at the AA and other schools in the UK, as well as in the United States (Penn in Philadelphia). He is in private practice as the Director of Castanon Associates (London) and Castañón Asociados (Madrid)

SINÉAD CONNEELY is a structural engineer and a founding Director of Simple Works. She studied Civil Engineering at the National University of Ireland, Galway and went on to do a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics at Imperial College London. Before starting Simple Works she worked for AKT II.

CHRIS DAVIES is a structural engineer. He has a degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Leeds. Chris has worked at both large and small structural engineering practices. He is currently a Project Manager at Transport for London working in Bridges and Structures.

LAURA DE AZCÁRATE is an acoustic designer and architect working within the Acoustics Team in BDP’s Environmental Design Studio in London. She holds a master’s degree in Architecture from San Pablo CEU University and a Bachelor of Music degree from Madrid. She also holds an MSc in Environmental and Architectural Acoustics from London South Bank University.

SIMON DICKENS is an architect. He has worked for companies such as Grimshaw Architects and Gensler, and he co-founded Youmeheshe. Simon has worked on a number of high-profile projects including Bath Spa, the Rolls-Royce Manufacturing Plant and Headquarters, Lord’s Grandstand and the Britannia Airport proposal in the Thames Estuary. Simon leads Unit 10 at the Bartlett School of Architecture with Professor CJ Lim.

IAN DUNCOMBE is a Board Director of the international engineering practice, Chapman BDSP. Ian has worked on environmental engineering projects worldwide, including Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi, Century Tower in Tokyo and Britam Tower in Nairobi. His UK work includes two winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize.

AUDE-LINE DULIÈRE is an architect. She holds a master’s degree in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, worked at David Chipperfield Architects and has been part of the development team at Rotor Deconstruction in Brussels. She is the recipient of the 2018 Wheelwright Prize.

LENA EMANUELSEN is a Norwegian architect. She is a co-founding member of Becoming X, a cross-disciplinary design and research practice working on projects between the UK and Norway. She also teaches at Kingston University.                                                                              81

KENNETH FRASER is the Intermediate Master of Environmental and Technical Studies, an architect and Director of Kirkland Fraser Moor Architects. He has taught at Brighton and NTU, been RIBA External Examiner at Manchester University and an Arts Council Architectural Assessor, and was a diploma Unit Master at the AA. He has previously worked with Renzo Piano and was project leader for the Rome Auditorium and the Padre Pio Church.

WOLFGANG FRESE became a furniture maker before he studied Architecture at the Arts Academy in Stuttgart and received a master’s degree from the Bartlett. He has worked at Atelier One Engineers and Alsop Architects on a number of award-winning international and UK projects. He is now Senior Project Architect at AHMM.

EVAN GREEN is a Senior Acoustics Consultant at Sound Space Design. He holds a master’s degree in Acoustics from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton and a master’s degree in Physics from the University of Bath.

PABLO GUGEL studied architecture at the ETSAC, Spain, and Sustainable Environmental Design at the Architectural Association. He has worked as an architect at Grimshaw Architects and as an environmental consultant for the last five years at Chapman BDSP and Atelier Ten.

ALAN HARRIES is a Director at INTEGRATION, a building services and environmental design consultancy. His projects include one of the first BREEAM-rated ‘Excellent’ buildings, the National Assembly of Wales and the first BREEAM-rated ‘Outstanding’ educational building, the London School of Economics Student Centre. He was the lead author of Urban Wind Energy.

JONATHAN HAWKSHAW is a chartered structural engineer and co-founder of Simple Works, a structural engineering practice. He gained a degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Leeds and currently works on projects in and around London.

SHO ITO graduated with an AA Diploma in 2016. He has worked for Kuma Kengo & Associates, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, dRMM and currently works at AHMM across the residential and commercial sectors. He is a studio tutor at Nottingham Trent University, teaching in the Masters programme.

DAVID ILLINGWORTH is a chartered structural engineer working at AKT-UK. He studied Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

ANGEL LARA is an architect and researcher currently working at the Architectural Association’s Digital Prototyping Laboratory. He studied architecture at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and holds a master’s degree in Advanced Architecture, as well as a Digital Tectonics degree from IAAC (Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalunya).

ALISTAIR LENCZNER is an architectural and engineering designer and Director of Expedition. He has worked at Arup and was a Partner at Foster + Partners. His past projects include Wembley Stadium and the Millau Viaduct. He is currently a member of the HS2 Design Panel.

CÍARAN MALIK is a structural engineer, teacher and illustrator. He studied engineering at the University of Cambridge and trained as a teacher at the University of Buckingham. He has been involved in water projects in Thailand, worked on the seismic resistance of structures in Nepal and developed shelter guidelines with Shelter Centre.

EMANUELE MARFISI is a structural engineer with a degree from the University of Florence and a PhD from Cambridge University. He has worked on a number of UK and international projects with Foster+Partners, Grimshaw, Zaha Hadid, Hopkins, Ron Arad, Christian de Portzamparc and Frank Gehry and he is now working as Project Director for Setec Batiment in their Paris office.

NACHO MARTÍ graduated from Elisava School of Design in Barcelona and the AA. He founded his design studio in 2004 and his projects have been exhibited, published and won awards internationally. He teaches the First year course at the AA and is the Director of the Visiting School Amazon.

PATRICIA MATO-MORA studied Architecture at the AA, before studying materials at the RCA. She now works alongside artists and architects to realise large-scale projects employing various craftsmanship methods, while practising independently as an artist.

ANNA MESTRE graduated from the School of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Barcelona and holds a master’s degree in Project Management in Building and Urban Planning from the Professional Association of Technical Architects of Barcelona. She worked as a scholar in the Structures Department at the University of Barcelona and currently works at BOMA, a structural consultancy in Madrid. She has been teaching Structural Types and Calculation, Physical Foundations and Mathematics in Art and Architecture at the IE School of Architecture and Design.

ANNA PLA CATALÁ graduated from the Architectural Association and holds a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from the Columbia University GSAPP. She worked at Foster + Partners in London and Eisenman Architects in New York before setting up her own practice in Barcelona.

DANAE POLYVIOU has studied at the University of Bath and completed a master’s degree in Membrane Structures in Germany. She has worked as a structural engineer in Stuttgart and Berlin prior joining Atelier One in London.

IOANNIS RIZOS is a chartered engineer and works as a Senior Environmental Design Consultant at Atelier Ten. He holds an MEng degree in Engineering and a MSc degree in Energy Systems and the Environment from the University of Strathclyde. He is a board member of the International Building Performance Association (IBPSA-UK). Ioannis has been actively involved in the development of the Olympic Velodrome in London, the LSE student centre and the Natural History Museum grounds.

TOM RAYMONT graduated with an AA Diploma in 2003 and worked with Eric Owen Moss Architects in Los Angeles and Asymptote in New York, before co-founding his own practice in London. He is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has been a design tutor at Central Saint Martins and the University of Westminster.

GIANCARLO TORPIANO studied Architecture and Structural Engineering at the University of Malta, before completing a master’s degree at the AA. He works as a Structural Engineer in a multi-disciplinary team at Arup.

CHIARA TUFFANELLI is a Senior Architect at Arup. Formerly working at Foster + Partners, she joined Arup’s Advanced Geometry Unit in 2008 and is currently a Project Manager for the Facade Engineering team. She has been a visiting studio tutor and lecturer at universities throughout the UK and presented papers at conferences in the UK and abroad.

ANNA WAI obtained a degree in Civil and Architectural Engineering from Bath University and is a Structural Engineer at Price & Myers. She has taught structures at London Metropolitan University and the University of East London.

PABLO ZAMORANO is an architect and the Head of Geometry and Computational Design at Heatherwick Studio. He graduated from Universidad Central in Chile in 2004 and holds an MSc from the Emergent Technologies and Design programme at the AA. He has practised in Santiago, New York and London.


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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.