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Experimental 12

Moon River

It is an understatement to say that information technology has fundamentally modified much of the world we navigate. Continuous connectivity between virtually every human being and device, simulated realities and machine learning are but a few variants of this technology. Architectural form and practice, however, seem to respond to the same imperatives of use and perception described in Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, published in 1935. EX12 will address these two imperatives and question their validity in the context of the current technological condition – a context in which humanity’s place is being challenged as never before.

We will focus on the scale of architecture and deal with form and matter. How do we build in a world in which visual appearance is mediated by omnipresent interfacing devices? What is materiality by default? How does automation affect our discipline? How can we partition space for populations whose behaviour can be predicted at an individual level, and how are buildings received (and thus conceived) if contemplation and habit are informed by the rate of computation? These are just some of the many questions we will address.

If technology and its implications are always present in the unit’s thought process, make no mistake: we will tackle architecture through its mass, its materiality and its ecological footprint – this design studio is strongly rooted in solid architecture.

Our methodology consists of a combination of skill acquisition and continuous project development. Participants in EX12 will familiarise themselves with a wide range of well-tested material, representational and spatial techniques in intense, collective workshop sessions, refining their distinct architectural approach through a year-long process of reactive, individual tutoring.

To apply this methodology, the unit will travel to California, where the focus will be on the critical observation of the notorious Case Study houses, the local geography and, last but not least, the impact of tech-driven economies in the Bay Area.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Taneli Mansikkamäki is an architect and educator, and the founder of architecture practice AGO. He has taught across the AA, from the Foundation course to the Experimental Programme. Taneli previously worked for Future Systems and Cecil Balmond amongst others and has served as a visiting critic at the University of Cambridge, AHO in Norway and Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart.

Max Turnheim founded UHO in 2013 after running the studio École alongside Nicolas Simon in 2007. He currently teaches at the AA and at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais. His theoretical contributions to the field of architecture can be read in San Rocco and Real Review.

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.