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Experimental 9 Luca Gamberini, The Island Without a Sea, 2018–19

City in Transition: Beyond Old and New

This unit is a part of a long-term project on the contemporary European city. Its research agenda seeks to develop broader visions for cities in transition, in contrast to the antagonistic displacements by modernists and contextual revisions by postmodernists. Most importantly, it seeks to link theoretical urban projects with explicit architectural briefs. 

We seek architecture that can better reflect and drive urban change. There is a need to respond to urgent, often concurrent pressures: cultural legacy and technological progress, local identity and global exchange, preservation and renewal. This demands new ways to relate all of the infrastructures of connection and production, along with their programmatic variables, to more stable and resilient architectural structures.

We will start off with a set of topical redevelopment sites that are symptomatic of deeper issues within the profession and the discipline of architecture. We will unravel the hidden conflicts between systems, agencies and practices, and articulate these as inherently architectural problems, temporarily disengaging from the prescribed domains of fixed design elements. We seek fundamental shifts in the production of mediating and inclusive projects that go beyond megastructures, hybrids, or condensers.

The unit will continuously confront the old and the new. It will dare to challenge what we know about archetypes, typologies and diagrams, while fully exploiting the cultural and spatial contexts of our propositions. Learning from the city as an ideological battle ground, projects will shift between urban diagnostics and historical research; manifestos and design provocations; conceptual maps and detailed drawings, allowing students to develop their own personal design methodologies. The unit will operate as a research-design laboratory and a forum for debate, collaboration and exchange, actively engaging with contemporary architectural culture through various platforms. Together, we can show that architecture can adapt and evolve in response to both urban contingencies and our collective design intelligence, and find its way back to the forefront of urban transitions.

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Unit Staff

Maria Fedorchenko has taught at UC Berkeley, UCLA and the CCA. Primarily an educator, she is also a co-founder of the collective Plakat Platform, an urban consultant and a co-director of Fedorchenko Studio. She is also a founding partner, with Gleb Sheykin, of a new generalist practice, Karta Architecture Ltd.

Bozar Ben-Zeev is a practicing architect with experience in offices such as MAD and OMA. He holds a Diploma from the AA and a BSc in Architecture (Hons) from the TU Delft. He has also acted as both a visiting critic and guest tutor at the AA.

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.