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Experimental 14 17th-century manor house by the Mandal River, Norway , Drawing from the National Archives of Norway

Hoary Building

The tabula rasa, long the ideological preserve of every wide-eyed architect and urban planner, is a spent concept. So are the resource-devouring manifestations typically designed to occupy it. We’re into the radical re-imagination of existing buildings.

With forensic, scientist-like attention we will survey, scan, draw, model, read, write, dive into archives and undertake first-hand research in order to understand existing building stock (and the effects of climate on them). Then, in surgical-like operations we will intervene, dissect, re-use, re-build, add and subtract to transform them into completely different entities. This means that we will carry out typological transformations, material reconfigurations, spatial re-imaginings and contextual re-interpretations in reaction to changing times. Nothing in our work is entirely new; it is always rooted in some way within that which was there before and it balances precision and imperfection. We are also not shy about restoration, a process in which our emphasis will be on objects, materials, colours, rituals and atmospheres.

We are committed to inventing and developing new materials from untapped, undiscovered and overlooked resources. Felling forests, quarrying the countryside and manufacturing eye-watering quantities of concrete and steel is no longer an imaginative or sustainable future. We will discover waste resources, methods of re-use and lost or abandoned traditions that not only contribute to a sustainable future, but have the power to create totally different spaces, moods, forms and feels.

In order to provide a contained cultural framework, our work will be based in Norway. The Nordic context is manageable in scale and a historical periphery dependent on merging vernacular with continental ideas. It is the blending of ‘types’ that keeps us from ethnocentric pitfalls, spurious local connotations, and singular notions of authenticity. We will design buildings and develop projects that engage with the idiosyncratic qualities of Italian Mannerism, draw from Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, trace the lines of Nordic building traditions – from vernacular structures to regional modernism – and are positioned in relation to two other seminal references: Christian Norberg- Schulz’s Genius Loci and Kenneth Frampton’s Critical Regionalism.

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Unit Staff

Amandine Kastler has worked at OMA/AMO Rotterdam and David Chipperfield Architects, and now co-directs Kastler Skjeseth Architects (Oslo). She graduated with Honours from the AA in 2010 and has been awarded multiple prizes, including the RIBA Bronze Medal.

Christopher Pierce completed his architecture studies at Virginia Tech and gained a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. He is currently working on a book, Recipes for Food and Architecture.

Erlend Skjeseth and Aram Mooradian will be regular collaborators with EX14 throughout the year.

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.