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Experimental 1 Within Reach: a micro masterplan somewhere in the English suburbs, OMMX, 2018

Building Stock

The opportunity to acknowledge, study and assess volume housebuilding as a presentation of Britain’s housing stock is more pertinent now than ever before. As the discourse surrounding the ‘housing crisis’ finds itself in a maelstrom, architects can no longer afford to ignore and disparage the impact and value of the Volume Housebuilding Project – a unique petri-dish of successes and failures. This unit will therefore encourage a fresh, unbiased review of a phenomenon so ordinary that it warrants and deserves closer examination.

The fluid relationship between suburbia and the inner city is now a condition of privilege. As such, the 19th- and 20th-century dialogue between city and suburb has developed instead  into a dialogue between city, suburb and exurb. A lack of affordable housing options now compels many would-be house buyers to migrate to the exurbs, rapidly raising demand for dwellings that the Volume Housebuilding Project has absorbed. This has generated an immediate,  unchecked and untapped ecosystem that has so far eluded concerted appraisal.

To make sense of this condition and its impact, the unit will adopt a multi- disciplinary approach, departing from the exclusivity of architectural critique and looking to other fields such as art, history, archaeology, anthropology, philosophy and psychology to understand human behaviour. We will explore the common misconceptions, aspirational hangovers, accepted norms and prevailing orthodoxies that inhibit societies from enacting meaningful change.

As opposed to typology, we will address typicality in search of alternative definitions of domesticity. Following the creation of a 1:1 piece of furniture that will encourage misbehaviour and the production of an alternative Design Guide to redefine the restrictive codes that shape our built environment from the inside out, students will design buildings to house a minimum of 100 people along the Metropolitan Railway line – the tract of land originally developed to alleviate London’s housing pressures. We will develop unbiased approaches to how we live with one another at all stages of our lives, exploring issues of mobility and hybridity, use and misuse, behaviour and misbehaviour, form and dysfunction.

To contextualise the peculiarities of the Volume Housebuilding Project in the UK, the unit will make a rail trip across Europe looking at contemporary and historic housing projects, visiting the studios of several established and emerging architects along the way.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

OMMX build, draw and write about architecture. We believe that architecture gives form to our collective desire to understand and express who we all are. It can construct intimate portraits of different communities, from individuals and families, to companies, landscapes, cities and nations. OMMX is committed to this biographical process, to creating spaces that we can relate to and that help us relate to one another. Hikaru and Jon have previously taught at Cambridge University, UCL and Central Saint Martins, and have run workshops at the Porto Academy, TU Delft, De Rotterdamse Academie van Bouwkunst and the Universities of Liège and Ghent.

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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.