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Experimental 8 A Graphic Diary of EX8

Politics of the Barter Block: A network of home-swapping in the Havana grid

‘In the Kingdom of Heaven there is no grandeur to be won, inasmuch as there is an established hierarchy, the unknown is revealed, existence is infinite, there is no possibility of sacrifice, all is rest and joy. For this reason, bowed down by suffering and duties, beautiful in the midst of his misery, capable of loving in the face of afflictions and trials, man finds his greatness, his fullest measure, only in the Kingdom of this World.’ – Alejo Carpentier, The Kingdom of this World, 1957

In Havana, more than fifty years of economic embargo has made any latent heroism fade away into an agonistic expression of survival at the outskirts of hegemonic globalisation. However, although peripheral, Havana also demonstrates its otherness within the global status quo – a different vantage point from which to redefine the Western capitalist idea of the contemporary city. From this alternative context, EX8 will speculate on new temporary housing models by revisiting Cuban traditions of home-swapping. Framed as a timely opportunity to discuss contemporary collective models of inhabitation, the unit will question not only how different intensities and durations of usage can reshape the arrangement of the domestic realm, but also how distinct articulations of spatial qualities can permit flexibility over long-term constraints such as material, climate and scale. Adopting a collective perspective, the block is understood as the basic unit that facilitates interpersonal relations between temporary occupants.

In order to explore these ideas, students will work with an area of approximately 100 x 100 metres, consistent with base dimensions of Havana’s urban grids.

These interventions will redensify, infiltrate and rearticulate independent blocks of the city to feed a speculative network of home-swapping. They will act as architectures awaiting to be appropriated, as well as negotiating relations at both a micro and macro scale. As a unit, we will continue our interests in architectural form and its ability to articulate relationships and how form resilience can be supported by a locally driven materialisation seeking more sustainable long-term construction approaches.

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Francisco González de Canales and Nuria Álvarez Lombardero are co-founders of Canales & Lombardero and Politics of Fabrication. Francisco studied architecture and theory at ETSA Seville, ETSA Barcelona and Harvard University, and worked for Foster + Partners and Rafael Moneo. He has lectured in England, Chile, Mexico, Spain and the US. Among his recent publications are First Works, Experiments with Life Itself, Rafael Moneo: A Theoretical Reflection through the Professional Practice and Rafael Moneo: Building, Teaching and Writing. Nuria studied architecture and urbanism at ETSA Madrid and the AA and worked for Machado & Silvetti Associates. She has previously taught at the University of Cambridge, the Bartlett, TEC Monterrey and the University of Seville. Her work on gender studies in architecture and urban typologies has been widely published and she wrote the award-winning book, Arquitectas: Redefining the Practice. Both hold a PhD and they are co-authors of Politics and Digital Fabrication: an ongoing debate.

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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.