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Diploma 16 Bêka & Lemoine, Homo Urbanus Rabatius, 2018

Homo Urbanus: Laboratory for Sensitive Observers

Ila Bêka, Louise Lemoine, Gili Merin

‘I want to give a view of the world that can only emerge by not pursuing any particular theme, by refraining from passing judgment, proceeding without aim. Drifting with no direction except one’s own curiosity and intuition.’ – Michael Glawogger, Untitled, 2017

The city is the place par excellence where the individual defines himself in relation to the group of his fellows – by mimicry or opposition, by rupture or by adhesion, by not being able to avoid the weight of the rules that govern the group. The open stage of this great social game, the street, is where every multifaceted rule is in constant action. The micro-scale observation of the events of the street has the subtle capacity to reveal the hidden mechanisms of the whole social system.

In line with the great steps of evolution of his species, Homo Urbanus has become a strange creature. DIP16 will observe and analyse him on the public stage of the street. This unit will entirely be devoted to training students to engage their deep human sensitivity, developing their receptivity to those that surround them and refining their capacity for observation of the overlooked; ordinary urban movements, mannerisms, habits and behaviours – a world of actions that escapes the attention of busy city-dwellers, but which forms the very essence of our contemporary urban condition. Stepping out of the habitual activity of daily life, students will become barbarians in the urban environment in order to rediscover astonishment and surprise as key values in conceiving of the city as a land of exploration and a laboratory for new ways of living.

Working in London throughout term one, during the second term each student will choose a city in which to individually make a film over ten days. Video installations, written texts, drawings, maps and urban wanderings will be used to feed the development of this work, from conception to postproduction. Beyond a conceptual and theoretical process, the work of the unit will be based on concrete, vibrant, sensory and emotional thinking as a guiding force in the production of individual films. Personal, intimate and spontaneous, these filmic forms will create new readings of the city not as a sequence of flows and an assembly of masses, but as a tangle of individual people, relationships and emotions. The collective research of the unit will eventually be drawn together in an anthropological cartography of the mannerisms and habits of the global Homo Urbanus.

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Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine are video-artists, producers and publishers. Their research is focused on how the built environment shapes and influences our daily life. In 2016, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York acquired the complete works of Bêka & Lemoine for its permanent collection.

Gili Merin is an architect, photographer, and PhD candidate at the AA. She worked for OMA and Kuehn Malvezzi, and has had her work widely published in books and exhibitions worldwide.

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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.