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Experimental 5 In 1551 the term ‘utopia’ was coined by Thomas More to define an imagined place in which everything is perfect. Delve deeper into the etymology of the word and one discovers that it originates from the Greek ‘ou’, meaning ‘not’ and ‘top(os)’ meaning place. Utopia literally is ‘nowhere’. Therefore, Margaret Thatcher is standing on a 188.3km utopia of asphalt that surrounds the city of London, aiming to go nowhere.

Road to Nowhere

In 1986, on a windy October day, it seemed that the UK government was going somewhere. As then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher emerged from a bulletproof Jaguar XJ8 clad in a wool-blend suit, neck encircled by a ring of pearls and head capped with a helmet of hair being ruffled by the stiff northeasterly breeze, her ever-trusty handbag present, she stood on a sea of asphalt. The image of this event shows a single figure in a vast abyss of tarmac that stretches as far as the eye can see – to infinity. Published in black and white, the time of day is frozen and unknown. The coordinates of place are impossible to pinpoint due to the lack of any recognisable building or visible point of interest – a manipulation of real-time using digital-time by an autocratic government. But perhaps more telling is the accompanying headline, a precursor to the demise of Thatcher’s dubious reign, stating that this event was actually the opening of the M25 motorway, dubbed ‘The Road to Nowhere’.

EX5 will attempt to go anywhere and everywhere. Starting with the M25 and working inwards, we will infiltrate London – a city that has grown and expanded through the rippling series of rings that have consistently redefined its edge condition. Tracing this rural/urban dendrochronology, we will explore segments of the M25 (a), Congestion Zone (b), Circle Line (c), City of London (d) and Roman Wall (e), leading us to discover how time affects architecture, material and space at the local scale whilst uncovering economic zones, environmental crises and infrastructural systems at the global scale. We will learn how governments and institutions use time as a means to dictate everyday life, encountering alternative modes of living that unveil how cultures and inhabitants simultaneously exist within multiple time zones. These encounters will provide the social, technological and time-based constraints for each unit project.

Those who choose to join the unit will be asked to construct an architectural brief and test it through material interventions. Working with film, physical models and drawings, a series of exercises will provide students with the material to develop the locale, target group, use, duration and key questions of projects that aim to challenge the rules, codes and laws that govern our existence, allowing EX5 to warp the fourth, fifth or tenth dimensions and to go ______ where?

Bill of Quantities:

(a) 29 October 1986, 188.3km, 1 hour 40 minutes 17 seconds driving, 32 junctions

(b) 17 February 2003, 7am–6pm, Monday–Friday, £10.50–14, 30–35 days/year of noxious pollution

(c) 1863, 17 miles, yellow, 114.6 million people per year, 72 minutes sitting down, 36 stations

(d) 1849–1964, 6 miles long, 1.12 square miles, 716.80 acres, 120 minutes walking, 10 dragons

(e) 200AD, 2 miles long, 330 acres, +/- 2.75m wide, 40 minutes walking, 22 towers

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Ryan Dillon is the Head of Academic Communications, a lecturer in the History and Theory programme and a member of the Teaching and Learning Committee at the AA. He has been the Programme Coordinator for the AADRL, taught at the University of Brighton and previously worked at Moshe Safdie Architects.

David Greene - born Nottingham, England, 1937 – had a usual English provincial suburban upbringing before moving to London to begin a nervous, nomadic and twitchy career; from big buildings for developers, to T-shirts for Paul Smith, to conceptual speculation for Archigram, which he founded with Peter Cook. Currently Greene is, perhaps, Provost of the Invisible 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.