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Deep Adaptation

It is already too late to escape the worst consequences of global warming.

To avoid widespread societal collapse, our relationship with the natural world must be rethought from first principles. A deep adaptation must occur and this process demands a reflection on new forms of life and coexistence, new material cultures, forms of degrowth and, ultimately, new ways of thinking about habitat and architecture.

Today’s development industry, housing markets, economic models and systems of resource management will not survive the coming decades. A new deal must be struck between humanity and our planet; a negotiation between the poles of desperate techno-optimism and an impossible return to primitivism. For architects, this means rapidly developing radical alternatives: new categories of design, ownership, construction, economics, planning and infrastructure. 

Of late, there has been a great public awakening to humanity’s impact on the environment. This sudden shift has led to a rising popularity of ‘sustainable’ design among architects. But sustainability is entirely the wrong term. 

Sustainability aims to avoid resource depletion and achieve ecological balance. However, by focusing on maintenance, sustainability is not able to move beyond the status quo in meaningful ways. All sustainability can hope for is mitigation and management. Instead, we argue for the concept of ‘deep adaptation’.

But what does it mean to adapt? Adaptation is a responsive change in state. It is often rapid, necessary and urgent. Adaptation is the violent undercurrent to macro evolution. Adaptation has no preconditions and makes no assumptions. It is purely pragmatic and focused on survival.

Deep adaptation is not about a speculative future, but the extreme present. DIP6 will focus on preparing architects for radically different conditions. Our aim is to understand how the social figure of the architect might react and, ultimately, how deep adaptation will impact domestic space and contemporary forms of life.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Guillermo López Ibanez is an architect and theorist. He is a founding member of MAIO, whose focus is on both built works and research projects.

Jack Self is an architect and editor. He is the Director of the REAL foundation and the Editor-in-Chief of Real Review..

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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.