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Diploma 15 Saul Steinberg, Doubling Up, 1946

One Ordinary and Another

Sam Chermayeff, Lucy Styles

Ordinary things contain the deepest mysteries… everything ordinary seems at once neutral and indispensable, but it is a delusion’ – Robin Evans, Figures, Doors and Passages, 1978


  1. The Home The unit will concentrate on the broad idea of the We will look at everyday elements that reflect cultural values, re-imagine the relationship between them and the human body and question the distinction between commodity and delight.
  2. Cut, Re-divide, Combine Architectural plans reflect human We will investigate existing and historic conventions, and re-evaluate the potential of domestic thresholds, from the partition to the party wall.
  3. Codify Classification methods are as much ideological tools as they are forms of efficient The unit will look at how to redefine the measure of the home by creating new codes for domestic space.
  4. Communicate From sections to flat pack instructions, every prevailing form of domestic representation reflects the agenda of its We will explore how to control the subject of an image and conduct a series of spatial experiments that dismantle domestic typologies.
  5. Collide The unit will explore alternative densification strategies by dissolving the house into its environment. Using programmatic crossovers to corrupt a conventional understanding of housing, we will look to develop a different kind of ordinary.
  6. Iterations We will use this post- programme framework to generate a series of investigative These will be model-based iterations, each with a clear diagrammatic strategy that pinpoints a single conceptual move.
  7. Settle Down The unit will land these experiments within a very ordinary site somewhere in the UK, encouraging neighbourhood-scale network By exploring the universal within the site-specific, we will address questions of political context, the potential of planning rules, the idea of community and the individual.
  8. An Economy of Means Designs will be conceptually value-engineered to ensure an economy of means, not just less
  9. Rigour, Always The unit will encourage iterative design, serial model- making, a strong exploration of representation and a realistic grounding for projects. We expect rigour in research and design, and a crossover between studio and core studies throughout the year.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Sam Chermayeff is an architect and co-founder of the office June 14 Meyer-Grohbrügge & Chermayeff. Sam worked for SANAA in Tokyo on projects such as the Serpentine Pavilion and the curation of the Venice Biennale. He has taught at the Dessau Institute of Architecture, Columbia University, Cornell University and the Royal College of Arts, among others.

Lucy Styles is a project architect at SANAA. During her time at the practice she has completed the Serpentine Pavilion, the Louvre-Lens museum and Fayolle social housing, among other projects. She is responsible for the SANAA office in northern Europe. Lucy very recently started her own design studio.

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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.