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Diploma 19 View of ‘The Event’, Abstract Cabinet Show, Eastside Projects, 2009

Play for Today: The Performance of Architecture

Performance has consistently occupied a pivotal position at the crossroads of architecture, art and public life. Spaces for perfomance are where an ethics of being together can be enacted and rethought; a process through which individuals rehearse the rituals of sociality, whilst also being a metaphor for the city and its capacity to sustain politics and public life.

As an archetype, the playhouse has shaped interiors and landscapes alike: from markets to streets; from living rooms to clubs. Like architecture, performances are often the product of vast collaborations and intended to be received by an ever-changing cast of participants. Playhouses, hippodromes and theatres are spaces for translating between cultures and receiving the architectures of others. Understanding performance as a process can also be a tool to understand how we act out our daily roles at home, at work and at play. Consideration of the theatricality of architecture raises the question of how explicitly our environment is in on the act. To what extent do cityscapes condition feelings and produce atmospheres? When is the city an active participant in the drama? And can buildings and the spaces between them have characters? What is the minimum requirement for performative, public space and what are the extremes of architectural theatricality?

DIP19 will consider the rapidly changing demands of contemporary cities, from energy consumption and transport, to food supply and housing. We will consider what role theatricality can play in making cities better able to adapt to and critically participate in change. We will work in central Birmingham, a city currently undergoing massive transformation, in collaboration with a local, artist-run multiverse, Eastside Projects. We will design at both the scale of strategic urban planning and at the scale of the detail, expecting construction to play its role in the performance. As a team, we will write scripts and conceive performances that equip us to intervene in ongoing processes of urban change and leverage the theatrical in support of the city.

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David Kohn is a London-based architect and educator. He taught at the Cass School of Architecture between 2003 and 2013, was a visiting professor at KU Leuven from 2014 to 2016 and an External Examiner at the University of Cambridge from 2016 to 2019. His practice is currently working on major projects for the ICA, New College Oxford and Hasselt University.

Bushra Mohamed has worked at David Kohn architects since 2018, where she leads a number of arts, cultural and residential projects. She has previously worked for DRDH, Adam Khan Architects and Assemble, as well as Monadnock Architects in The Netherlands. Bushra has previously taught at Kingston University and the Architectural Drawing Summer School.

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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.