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Diploma 3 A cross section of a bundle of nerve fibers. Image Credit:

Body Politic

In a strange, circuitous loop, from Vitruvius to le Corbusier, from the Frankfurt Kitchen to the International Space Station, architecture – preoccupied with the dimensions, proportions and movements of the human body – ended up not only facilitating, but also designing the very body it builds for.

If the ultimate object of design is the human body and the object of politics – as Michel Foucault’s term Biopolitics suggests – is managing human life, then architecture becomes the instrument par excellence for the governing of bodies in space. Body Politic can therefore be read in two ways: it refers to Rousseau’s (now controversial) concept of the collective body of citizens that together form a population and a state, as well as the way in which the individual body is politicised and policed while subjected to state decisions. Within the field of Forensic Architecture, DIP3 will puruse its quest at the intersection of conflict, media and architecture, with a focus on the human, non-human and more-than- human body.

Zooming out from skin cells to satellite imagery, we will investigate all the ways that bodies are handled, controlled, measured, confined, registered, altered, medicated and mediatised, and question the aesthetics of representation of the body. We will learn from the tools of bodily investigation – X-rays, ultrasound machines and surgical cameras – transferring these ways of seeing into the built environment and performing time-based urban autopsies and against-the-grain political diagnoses.

Starting the year with a group investigation into an active human rights case, we will then go on to build individual case files by collecting news clippings and medical reports, recording films and field notes. Through a series of Open Seminars, we will study the troubled history of the state as body, reveal the multiple subjectivities of le Corbusier’s Modulor and interrogate how the tension between complex forces can manifest itself in medical ailments and chronic conditions. We will unpack these moments of rupture across urban and territorial scales, and propose strategic interventions that will insert themselves into the existing political discourse and operate within the institutions and forums currently at play.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Christina Varvia is an architectural researcher and the Deputy Director of Forensic Architecture. Her research concentrates on architectural evidentiary techniques and more broadly on digital media and memory. She has worked with multiple NGOs, published and exhibited internationally. She recently joined the Technology Advisory Board at the International Criminal Court.

Merve Anil is a qualified architect and has worked at numerous practices in London, Rotterdam and Istanbul, across a range of scales and methodologies, including as a researcher whilst at OMA. Merve graduated from the Architectural Association in 2014 and currently works for AHMM in 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.