Contemporary Urban Design Education Symposium

Organised by Sam Jacoby - Part 2

Series: Symposium
Date: Wednesday 10 February 2016
Time: 18:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 100 mins

The symposium brings together urban educators to discuss how new practices and research have changed urban design conventions and disciplinary assumptions. This is a discussion not only important to urban researchers, but all architects involved in the different scales of designing the built environment.

While the term ‘urban design’ originates from a conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1956, this was not the first time that the urban was defined as a problem arising between planning and design. Ildefons Cerdà already recognised this a century earlier when coining the term ‘urbanisation’. Also, rather than considering urban design as an academic field with practical orientation that operates between architecture, landscape architecture and planning as an inter-, intra, multi- or cross-disciplinary practice, what if its value is not a management of differences, but the instrumentalisation of conflicts? 

The resurgence of urban design education and research is only partially explained by global urbanisation, or the failure of other design disciplines to make meaningful claims to ‘urbanism’. Contemporary urban research challenges the commonly held belief that the urban requires a homogenising intervention and process. The approach of unifying the urban through ideas of place-making, nostalgia for past public spaces, or the codification of ‘good’ urban form is no longer tenable. Instead, richer multi-scalar design research enquiries are emerging, which, for example, make a simultaneous consideration of domesticity, typology, morphology, infrastructure and territory possible. A particular strength of urban design hereby is a framing of abstract contexts such as policy, legal frameworks and planning through considerations of specific constituencies, urban plans, design frameworks, design proposals and physical implementation. 

The symposium seeks to clarify how teaching and research methodologies can have a relevance and impact on urban practices and design.

Schedule


10:20 am = Welcome (Sam Jacoby, AA Projective Cities)
10:30 am = 'Representative Cities', Ingrid Schröder (Cambridge University)
11:10 am = 'Urban Design in China: Practice and Challenges', Dr Fei Chen (University of Liverpool)
11:50 am = 'The New Urban Professional: Experiments in Pedagogy', Prof Diego Ramírez-Lovering (Monash University)
12:30 pm = Round table discussion (chair Prof Peter Bishop, UCL)


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2:00 pm = 'Private Investigations', Prof Alexander Lehnerer (ETH)
2:40 pm = 'Propositions for Urban Design Research', Dr Sam Jacoby (AA)
3:20 pm = 'Architecture of Territory', Prof Milica Topalovic (ETH)
4:00 pm = 'Scales as Pedagogy', Dr Adrian Lahoud (RCA) 
4:40 pm = 'Linking the Physical to the Social', Prof Ricky Burdett (LSE)
5:30 pm = Round table discussion (chair Tarsha Finney, UTS)


Ingrid Schröder is a practicing architect and the founding Director of the Cambridge Design Research Studio. She has taught at the University of Cambridge since 2001 as a Design Tutor and Lecturer on Urban Theory. She previously taught at the Architectural Association and ETH Zurich. She has been directing the MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design/RIBA Part II programme since 2011. Her current projects in teaching, research and practice focus on the relationship between political thought, civic space and urbanism.


Fei Chen is a senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool. She was trained as an architect and urban designer at the University of Bath and Southeast University, China. She received her PhD on Chinese urbanism from the University of Strathclyde. Chen was previously a researcher working on the AHRC funded project ‘Sensory Urbanism’ in Strathclyde and is the co-founder and convenor of the ‘Urban Morphology and Representation Research Network’ under IAPS.


Diego Ramírez-Lovering is Head of the Department of Architecture at Monash University. He has taught and practiced architecture in Australia, Italy and Mexico. His teaching and research examine the contributory role that architecture can play in addressing the significant challenges facing contemporary urban environments – climate change, resource limitations, rapid population growth and changing household demographics. His practice based PhD focused on these contemporary urban issues through the platform of affordable and sustainable housing. He is the co-founder of Monash Architecture Studio (MAS). This research unit undertakes design-based research from the scale of dwelling to the scale of the city/region around a range of contextual issues in collaboration with researchers from other universities, government and industry.


Peter Bishop is an urban planner and urban designer. He is a director at Allies and Morrison and Professor of Urban Design at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. His interest lies in the strategies and approaches that can be employed to shape cities within the social, economic and political forces that operate. For over 20 years Peter was Planning director in four Central London Boroughs and worked on major projects including the Kings Cross railway land developments. In 2006, he was appointed as the first Director of Design for London, the Mayor’s architecture and design studio; and in 2008 as the Deputy Chief Executive at the London Development Agency.


Tarsha Finney is an architect and urbanist, holding the position of senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research interests cross several areas: domesticity and the problem of multi-residential housing with specific knowledge of the cities of New York, Beijing and Sydney; architectural typology and notions of disciplinary specificity and autonomy; and the architectural urbanism of innovation in cities.


Alex Lehnerer, an architect and urban designer, currently holds a position as assistant professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Prior to that he was based in Chicago, where he was a professor at the University of Illinois. He received his PhD from ETH Zurich, his MArch from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), is partner of the firm Kaisersrot in Zurich, and founded the Department of Urban Speculation (DeptUS) in Chicago. Together with Savvas Ciriacidis he is leading the architectural office Ciriacidis Lehnerer Architekten in Zurich.

Adrian Lahoud is an architect, researcher and educator. Prior to being appointed Dean of the School of Architecture and Head of the Architecture programme at the Royal College of Art, Adrian Lahoud was Director of the Urban Design Masters at The Bartlett School of Architecture and served as Director of the MA programme at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths. He received his PhD from the University of Technology Sydney where he taught for a number of years while running an award winning architectural practice. His dissertation titled ‘The City, the Territory, the Planetary’ explores the way architecture structures problems through the concept of scale. He has written extensively on questions of climate change, spatial politics and urban conflict with a focus on the Arab world and Africa. 


Milica Topalovic is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Territorial Planning at the ETH Department of Architecture. From 2011-15 she held research professorship at the ETH Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, studying the relationship between a city and its hinterland. In 2006 she joined the ETH as head of research at Studio Basel Contemporary City Institute and the professorial chairs held by Diener and Meili, where she taught research studios on cities and on territories such as Hong Kong and the Nile Valley. Milica graduated with distinction from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade and received a Master’s degree from the Berlage Institute for her thesis on Belgrade’s post-socialist urban transformation. Since 2000, she worked on projects in different spatial scales and visual media. With Studio Basel she authored and edited Belgrade. Formal / Informal: A Research on Urban Transformation, and The Inevitable Specificity of Cities.


Sam Jacoby is a chartered architect with an AA Diploma and a doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin. Jacoby has worked for architectural and planning offices in the UK, USA and Malaysia. He has taught at the AA since 2002 and is currently the director of the Projective Cities programme.


Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and director of LSE Cities and the Urban Age Programme. He is a member of the UK Government’s Independent Airports Commission and a member of Council of the Royal College of Art in London. Burdett was Visiting Professor in Urban Planning and Design at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University in 2014 and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University from 2010 to 2014. He has been involved in regeneration projects across Europe and was Chief Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism for the London 2012 Olympics and architectural adviser to the Mayor of London from 2001 to 2006. Burdett was also a member of the Urban Task Force which produced a major report for the UK government on the future of English cities. He is editor of The Endless City (2007), Living in the Endless City (2011) and Innovation in Europe’s Cities (2015). Burdett acts as an adviser to national, regional and local governments on urban issues, and has worked with private companies and architectural practices on the development and framing of urban projects. 


Image caption: Alvaro Arancibia Tagle, Cité Housing in Santiago de Chile (AA Projective Cities, 2013)



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


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Welcome to 2019-20

Dear School Community,

The Architectural Association is a place where we forget our labels as architects, as artists, as economists, as writers, as poets, and we become citizens of the world – a world that we believe we can change, transform into something other, more interesting, more radical, more free, more equal, more us. The new academic year brings a series of important conversations to the forefront of architectural education and contemporary culture through new and familiar voices and projects. There are urgent tasks at hand. Our programmes throughout the school have accepted the challenge to address issues of climate and ethics. As architects we always speak on behalf of the other, but we also need to constantly ask ourselves, who has the right to speak, and on behalf of whom? How am I affecting the environment with my actions? How can I care more about others? 

This year I invite us all to practice radical empathy, to care about the planet, the other and the future. To listen, to ask, to share, to discuss, to debate, but ultimately to care. 

Like every year, new appointments and initiatives will expand both our academic and institutional horizons. Academic voices joining us are: filmmakers Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, whose work focuses on experimental narratives and cinematographic forms in relation to contemporary architecture and the urban environment; Berlin-based architect Sam Chermayeff (AA Alumni), founder of the practice June 14; Didier Fiúza Faustino (AA Tutor 2010-16), an architect and artist working on the relationship between the body and space; Gabu Heindl, an architect and urban planner who is the head of GABU Heindl Architektur in Vienna, an interdisciplinary studio specialising in public interventions, cultural and social buildings; David Kohn, London-based architect and founder of David Kohn Architects working internationally on arts, education and residential projects; Viviana Muscettola, an associate director at Zaha Hadid Architects and an executive member of the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat; OMMX, a London-based practice led by Hikaru Nissanke and Jon Lopez; OFIS, an international architecture office based in Ljubljana and led by Špela Videčnik and Rok Oman (both AA Alumni); Superpool, an international research-based architecture practice located in Istanbul and led by Selva Gürdoğan and Gregers Tang Thomsen; and Bostjan Vuga (AA Alumni), architect and founder of SADAR+VUGA. Other people joining us include Eleanor Dodman, Liza Fior, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Lizy Huyghe, Guan Lee,  Melodie Leung, Gili Merin, Ivan Morrison, Anna Muzychak, Bushra Mohamed, Jonathan Robinson, Alvaro Velasco Perez and James Westcott. This diversity of new voices, will add to the units and programmes and will continue the multiplicity of agendas that the AA is known for. 

Every course, programme and unit throughout the school operates under a highly specific and idiosyncratic methodology, which offers every student a myriad of options and possibilities. More about the overall academic offerings can be found here. More about Experimental Programme units and staff can be found here; Diploma Programme units and staff can be found here and information about the unit selection process can be found here.

After more than a decade at the helm of the PhD Programme, Simos Yannas has stepped away to focus on the Sustainability and Environmental Design (SED) Programme that he leads at the school. The new Head of the PhD Programme, Pier Vittorio Aureli will shape the programme in the years to come. Elif Erdine will be the new Head of Emergent Technologies and Design (EmTech) after Mike Weinstock stepped down; however, he will continue to teach within the programme as Founding Director. 

Print Studio is transforming with a new Head of Publications, Maria S. Giudici who will – in addition to being the editor of AA Files – oversee new publications that continue to position the AA at the forefront of critical discussions through printed matter. Ryan Dillon is our new Head of Academic Communications, and will edit the annual AA Book, lead the relaunch of the AA Radio/Podcast, and oversee the content of the new website amongst other platforms to enable and facilitate all imaginable forms of communication and engagement within the AA School Community. In addition, Rory Sherlock, is joining us as Assistant Editor. 

These new voices join our renowned academic and administrative staff, who together, will surely provide for relevant discussions and debates throughout the entire school as we continue our journey into the future. As part of this, and our continued commitment to achieving Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) (a final decision on our application is expected this autumn), we have gone through a process of internal validation, adjusting nomenclature to reflect who we are and what we do, and to make sure our programmes maintain their identity. Former Complementary Studies is now Core Studies; Technical Studies is now Environmental and Technical Studies (ETS), Media Studies is now Communication and Media Studies (CMS), First Year and Intermediate School (years 2-3) is now the Experimental Programme, and Diploma School (years 4-5) is now the Diploma Programme.

The AA is committed to experimental methods in teaching and learning and this can be seen in the many initiatives being launched. In Term 3 Speculative Studies, a series of interdisciplinary seminars over five weeks, will present courses on politics, law, philosophy, ethics, art history, poetry, dance, gastronomy, social technology and microbiology. Other topics and courses will be added from proposals put forward by students in an Open Forum to be held in Term 1. These courses will introduce new areas of expertise and methodologies to our collective culture.

A four-day symposium titled Experimental Methods will bring our community together for a discussion and debate on what experimentation is and can be at the AA, which will take place during Open Week in both Terms 1 and 2. Tutors from across the school will lecture on their particular academic approach as well as their own professional practice and research. Each day will end with a keynote speaker and a round table discussion, and the week will culminate with an Open Jury in which students can present their work to a panel of invited critics. 

For the first time in the history of the school, Diploma students and Postgraduate students will be able to take joint classes as part of an expanded pool of Electives. These advanced seminars will be provided by our ten Postgraduate Programmes in areas of technology, criticism, sustainability, material culture, computation and more, allowing us to push the boundaries of architectural education and to have more dialogue across all parts of the school.  

This year we will continue with the Open Seminars; on Mondays, Plan the Planet, brings together experts across different disciplines to discuss the current ecological crisis in order to articulate new strategies, policies, relationships and spaces; on Tuesdays, Evidentiary Aesthetics investigates the technologies and politics of the body; and on Wednesdays, we will be able to study the Origins of Capitalist Urban Space.

Throughout the year, the Directions Series offers an open forum for conversations between AA Students, Academic and Administrative Staff and the AA Director. These events offer a platform to communicate and discuss the direction of the school. The first event of the Directions Series will take place on Monday 30 September at 7pm in the Lecture Hall when we can start raising questions and propose new agendas as we all work towards our future and jointly develop the AA 2020-25 Strategic Plan.

To broaden and strengthen our academic resources additional initiatives have been set up. The new Writing Centre aims to assist students with their essays and written work; the Student Care Centre is to provide mental health support; and the Student Affairs Office will provide students with logistical support during their time here at the AA, and advice in career placement and work opportunities in London and around the world for their year out and after graduation. 

To conclude the academic year we aim to introduce a new way of transmitting and disseminating the work of our fifth year students at the AA Forum/Final Presentation. Over two days after tables, all graduating students will present their project in an open format to a wide group of tutors, guest jurors, curators, press, friends and colleagues, making their last presentation at the AA a real moment for celebration and dialogue. The AA Forum/Final Presentation will be open to all students to attend, and will take place in any imaginable space throughout the school. 

This autumn we launch the AA Residence, a cultural platform exploring and studying new ideas and forms of practice at the intersection of architecture, art, technology, policy and design. It is composed of a series of independent labs that consist of an interdisciplinary cohort of resident fellows including architects, artists, policy makers, engineers, scientists and creative entrepreneurs that are all researching and producing experimental work. The AA Residence will work as an incubator in a shared workspace and professional development programme, providing architects and entrepreneurs the tools required to build new practices and initiate projects that impact, promote and amplify culture, and contribute to the re-imagination of the future. The 2019-20 labs will be announced in October. 

Last year’s Projects Review 2019 was produced with the goal to achieve zero waste, and has left us with some new pieces of furniture that we hope to enjoy throughout the year. As part of this exhibition, the first edition of the Press and Practices Preview took place the day before the opening, and proved to be a success. Fifth year students and those with scholarships and bursaries had the opportunity to explain their unit agendas and project aims to invited guests. They did this alongside volunteers who provided an introduction to the sometimes complex issues that the school and its programmes address. Thank you to all tutors, students and volunteers that committed time to this effort. The Projects Review exhibition received great press coverage and many positive responses. To continue this momentum the AA Book, together with a series of podcasts with staff and students, will be launched in the autumn.

Over the last year we have recognised and celebrated the amazing diversity of the Architectural Association, that consists of students and staff from 81 different nationalities. In an attempt to build on this great cultural resource we will launch Architecture in Translation, a project that celebrates the wealth embedded in the use of different languages as part of the production and dissemination of ideas, discourse and debate about architecture. This project will work across many areas within the school. Within HTS, Mark Cousins has produced a series of seminars that will explore the theoretical questions and opportunities of translation in architecture. In addition to this, juries in different languages will take place throughout the year and will be used to identify terms, concepts and values inherent to different linguistic and cultural contexts in order to produce a ‘multilingual dictionary of architectural terms’ for the twenty-first century. 

Last but not least, to start the year, a different kind of tradition is being introduced entitled, Plant a Tree, which will take place during Introduction Week and invites all new students and staff to Hooke Park, the AA rural campus in Dorset. While on-site, we will learn about the facilities and then ceremonially, each and every one of the 300 new voices joining the school, will plant a tree to contribute to the forest, offset carbon emissions, and take part in a dialogue of ideas about the future as responsible members of the AA and of this planet. Plant a Tree is more than a symbolic act, it is the commitment to a future that is ours to build.

As new and returning students and staff wander throughout the school, its spaces and places and within the corridors that build our intellectual home, you will find on the walls images of projects that each of the 779 students of the last academic year produced. With these drawings up on the walls, now is the time for identifying new debates and engagements. For those knocking on my door, and I encourage all of you to do so, you will see next to the Expanding Horizons poster – in a circular frame – what I suspect will be the most important image for many of you this year: this is of course an invitation to visit and share some of your ideas. 

I am looking forward to seeing all of you during Introduction Week and throughout the year ahead to discuss in detail the initiatives outlined above, and the ones that we will create together.

 

Yours,

Eva Franch i Gilabert
Director
AA School of Architecture

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