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Experimental 13 Sun and Sea, Neon Realism, Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2019, curated by Lucia Pietroiusti

Some Like it Hot: Exhibiting in a Warming Climate

‘There is no climate, no place, and scarcely an hour, in which nature does not exhibit colour which no mortal effort can imitate or approach. For all our artificial pigments are, even when seen under the same circumstances, dead and lightless beside her living colour; nature exhibits her hues under an intensity of sunlight which trebles their brilliancy.’ – John Ruskin, Modern Painters, 1843

Museums have an urgent role to play in educating us about the ecological crisis, guiding us towards a new cultural paradigm and interrogating the ethical, social and political implications of this break with the status quo. It’s time for the art world to evolve from privileging short-term, blockbuster shows to cultivating collective conversations and long-term thinking about our future. EX13 foregrounds the educational capacity of a museum to design museums that catalyse us into action in this climate emergency.

We will substantially rethink the nature of a museum, so that it not only minimises its environmental impact – challenging Part L – but so that it also embeds ecological thinking into architectural projects, cultural discourse and exhibition display. Working across a series of scales, starting with the exhibition space of a single object and concluding with resolved spaces of display and education in the city, each student will develop a unique architectural language that is conceptual, graphic, formal and performative. We will find sites across London, unravel museum typologies, learn from archives and AI, and disrupt the city with ecological tools that infiltrate both the local community and natural context. How should we design museums of extinction, of synthetic aesthetics, of erotic atmospheres, of cyborg-microbes, of intelligent plants and more? Each project will interrogate the content, curation, materiality, formal configuration, location, technologies, operational models and programming of future museums.

Throughout the year, we will engage with the General Ecology project at the Serpentine Gallery curated by Lucia Pietroiusti and the Soane Museum, an architectural laboratory of education and atmospheres. Architecture and art will work hand in hand to take on the challenge set by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion. For museums to remain relevant, they must provide speculative visions that reframe our relationship to our new, steamy world.

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Unit Staff

Lily Jencksis the founder of JencksSquared and LilyJencksStudio, which looks at how content-driven forms can create strong identities for meaningful public interaction through architecture, landscape and interior projects in the UK and abroad. She studied at Columbia University and holds a master’s degree in Architecture and Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jessica Reynolds is a director at London-based vPPR Architects, which investigates the continual crossover between art and architecture in its residential and cultural projects. She is a founder of the Architecture Exchange, a platform that fosters debate between 40 architecture and philosophy. She studied at Cambridge University and Princeton University.

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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.