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Experimental 18 Silhouettes of tall towers overlaid on a satellite image of London, Viviana Muscettola, 2019 Image credit: ISS, ISS045-E-32242

Mix-Up: Tall Towers as Catalysts for Social Interaction

The proposition of the unit is to investigate how contemporary forms of social communication can inform the design of tall buildings and vice versa. We will look at how the tower typology can induce new forms of social interaction, communication and the exchange of ideas in the interests of augmenting the power of collective intelligence.

How can designers transform isolated towers in the urban landscape into vertical villages and hubs of ideas? Can we design towers to maintain the special qualities of the traditional village and the social energy of the active metropolis? Is there a limit to the possible combinations of uses in a given tower? Beginning with an analysis of metropolitan behaviours, we will consider the tall tower as an architectural response to the desires and necessities of contemporary society; an architecture that can provide the conditions for our highly connected generation to live, work, socialise and flourish.

Students will be challenged with designing a tower in the City of London, interrogating the basic typology and considering not only how social interaction can be positively influenced by architecture, but also how new forms of social life can, in turn, change the way we design. Through a detailed examination of all of the key factors and details that influence such projects – sustainability, programme, circulation, ecology, structure, façade, durability and flexibility – students will investigate how the tower can function as a vertical village and service hub; as a place, not a location, in which a mixture of programs can create the substrata for social integration.

The year will begin with an intense phase of typological analysis in order to establish a solid understanding of the technical aspects of tower design, from structural to environmental considerations and from user comfort to vertical transportation. Experts from a variety of consultancy firms in the design industry will deliver a series of workshops and talks, and students will be expected to attend conferences throughout the academic year. Site visits will be made in London and Hong Kong.

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Unit Staff

Viviana Muscettola has 20 years’ experience working on high-profile international projects as an Associate Director at Zaha Hadid Architects. She is an executive member of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Melodie Leung is a Senior Associate at Zaha Hadid Architects and the Architecture Editor-at-Large for Ala Champ Magazine. She has been a leading designer within ZHA for over a decade, working with the practice on many architectural, interior, product and furniture designs.

Nhan Vo is an assistant tutor at Cardiff University and City College of San Francisco.

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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.