JENCKS, Charles

Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation

Date: Thursday 24 October 2013
Time: 18:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 82 mins

Adhocism is both a philosophy and a practice of improvisation in design – a bricolage of existing resources.  As such it is a hybrid or mongrel affair, the essence of creativity, at the moment of eureka before the stylists and branders erase the evidence and produce the ‘seamless product’ – the aesthetic desire of digital design. Instead, adhocism presents complexity and the time city, the memory of the past just as it is being transformed into the future, a palimpsest of pluralism and cultural DNA. 

Charles Jencks coined the adhoc conjunction in 1968 and co-authored, with Nathan Silver, the 1972 book Adhocism, which has now been updated and revised by MIT Press, with a new foreword and afterword by the authors. Jencks, who taught at the AA from 1965–95, is the author of several books on contemporary and postmodern architecture as well as landform design, some of which is collected in The Universe in the Landscape, 2011.


Image: Charles Jencks, The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Dumfries, Scotland, 1989

All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.

February 2020
Su M Tu W Th F Sa


AA Photo Library has DVD copies of Public Programme lectures dating back to 1974


Online Lectures
Lecture Archive



For any issues with video playback please contact
AA Digital Platforms

The Architectural Association, Inc. is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee (No.171402) and registered as a charity (No. 311083). Registered office: 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES, 020 7887 4000

Click here to read the AA’s latest review report.

Click here to read the AA’s latest action plan.



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.