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Experimental 10 Japan survey: appropriation of left over outdoor passage, Chu Ying Ng, 2018–19


‘We are surrounded by subjunctives, by the form of possibility. It could all be very different.’ – Alexander Kluge

All architecture starts with a plot – be that a piece of land lying dormant and waiting to be discovered, a sly scheme, a model by which to realise one’s ideas or a good piece of narration. Experimental Unit 10 will use the plot as its point of departure, focusing on the interplay between the different facets of the term: context, strategy and exposition.

In exploiting the ambiguity between the clarity and open-endedness of a given term (i.e. plot), the unit fosters each student’s individual strengths and inclinations, and the decision-making power that occurs in a collective (unit). In a world in which the youth appears more sincere, daring and influential than distinguished heads of state and long-standing institutions, our object of desire remains the city that surrounds us – London. It is our home: local, mundane and touchable; the largest city of Western Europe; the capital of a dwindling, post- imperial state and increasingly home to the top 1% of the global population by income. In this environment, what can be added or revoked as a young architect? How do we establish a position or claim a space? How can we bring about change and what does change even mean?

Term one will be occupied by small, experimental tasks and skill-building exercises to sharpen our faculties of examination and expression. In term two we will focus on our playing field, the metropolis, beginning with the identification of a plot and an analytical survey that will gradually build up to a critical proposition – be it social, physical or lyrical. During the third term, we will refine our arguments through writing and editing. We will travel to an unfamiliar city to chart its distinct spatial conditions, only to reimagine them upon our return.

The survey of a given context and the identification of its key drivers and influences are essential components in how the unit operates. Above all, the process of addition and subtraction to and from an existing context will form a mantra throughout the year – not only as a tool of design, but also as a way of producing evidence…

… the plot thickens.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Valentin Bontjes van Beekruns vbvb studio and is a Professor at the Munich University of Applied Science (MUAS). He trained in Germany as a carpenter and worked as an architect in New York with Bernard Tschumi and Raimund Abraham before returning to London to practise and teach.

Winston Hampel studied architecture and design in Hamburg, Paris and Stuttgart, where he received his Diploma, as well as graduating from the History and Critical Thinking in Architecture programme at the AA. He has taught in the AA First Year Studio, History and Theory Studies and the DRL, and worked for architecture practices in Germany and France. He is now based in Munich and London.

Experimental 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.