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Experimental 6 House as a Desert for 500 ‘Floating’ Tech Workers, Isabel Alves Santos De Castro, 2018–19

Eros in the Void

It is a mistake to believe that we can depend on the same engrained pathologies and systems to achieve different ends; that a new, green application of technological and scientific progress, or ethical forms of expert planning, control and surveillance will ultimately save us from the depths of our ecological and existential crisis. To work through this trauma and reinvent the cultures of everyday life, ways out must come from below and within, and let the exalted rationality of fuller Desire seep in.

Capitalism has left us uprooted and destroyed all previous or stable forms of life. The neoliberal state is abandoning patriarchal welfare institutions and services, leaving more and more of us in a desert of disenchantment and desperation, increasingly devoid of solidarity, identity, meaning, sustenance and care. This desert is rife with mirages that dominate us by abstracting, distracting and sewing division, but also consoling and alluring. They distort Desire and misdirect our potential for action. However, if we can see through the mirages, we encounter an openness and potentiality in this desert void, a historically unprecedented opportunity for the development of new forms of life in common that must insist that means-is-end.

EX6 will seek out and research examples of alternative, self-actualising subjectivities, collectives and forms of living together that have been born out of the void and are impelled by Desire. Departing from these examples, we will design experimental architectures for living and working together, with a focus on the social and spatial dimensions of collectivising, or commoning reproduction – the forms of labour concerned with maintenance and sustenance; the physical and emotional care of the body. Perhaps, most importantly, we might open up free time, critical-thought-potentiality and therefore space for more empowered, liberated, individual, creative work.

As architects, we can neither impose nor foresee what forms of life will unfold and so we must reject our compulsions to adopt symbolic, programmatic, typological thinking and the abstract imposition of rituals, divisions of labour and values. Instead, we want to bolster alternative commoning trajectories, helping them carve out new spaces from the desert, and to develop new architectural tools, strategies and imaginaries.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Brendon Carlin has led several realised architecture and city projects in practice and taught at many institutions worldwide. Brendon is also a Director of Tropicality and a PhD candidate at the AA.

James Kwang-Ho Chung is a lecturer at the Royal College of Art and an architectural designer for Hopkins Architects. He has worked at several architecture practices and has lectured and taught at several universities including the AA, the Royal College of Art and 26 Leeds School of Architecture.

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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.