Emmanuel Vercruysse & Martin Self, Eduardo Rico & Jose Alfredo Ramirez, James Mak & Alison Cheng, Hussam Dakkak, Kate Davies & Spandana Gopal


Series: Positions
Date: Monday 5 November 2018
Time: 18:30
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 84 mins

To be ‘Grounded’ is to be rooted in place, whether that be a type of landscape, a defined territory, a politicised site, or a locally-specific culture. How can place contribute to the making of space or to the shaping of a form of practice? This conversation will debate different strategies on how to answer this question through mapping intangible flows, generating a productive landscape and introducing stability into conflict zones or struggling economies.

Following on from the What’s Next series that was a platform for AA graduates to present their unique forms of practice, this year a new series of five conversations on critical Positions will take place on Monday evenings. Each conversation will bring together leading voices from our alumni, graduate programme directors and a range of invited specialists from disciplines outside of architecture to debate their different approaches and methodologies while also discussing their common ground around a specific topic. 

Emmanuel Vercruysse is an artist, architect and craftsman with a passion for design-through-making. Trained in both furniture design and architecture he works through iterations of drawing, craft and code, and approaches design as a tacit process that oscillates between intuitive acts and precise operations. He is co-director of AA Design and Make at Hooke Park, co-founder of art practice LiquidFactory, the field robotics group RAVEN and a member of the design collective Sixteen Makers. Emmanuel was previously Senior Teaching Fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture, where he was unit master of MArch Unit 23 for 8 years, and lead the Robotics and Cad-Cam research lab (2009-2015), overseeing its development into one of the UK’s leading design fabrication facilities.

Martin Self is an engineer and designer who has taught design and theory at the Architectural Association since 2004. He is the Director of Hooke Park, the Architectural Association’s woodland campus, and Programme Director of the MArch Design & Make course. He was a founder member of Arup’s Advanced Geometry Group, studied architectural theory at the AA, and has provided structural engineering and form-finding consultancy within practices such as Zaha Hadid Architects and Antony Gormley Studio. Trained originally in aerospace engineering, he worked at Ove Arup & Partners in a series of specialist and design roles over a ten-year period.

Eduardo Rico is a Civil Engineer and MA Landscape Urbanism Graduate currently working at Arup, as well as member of design practices such as Groundlab and Relational Urbanism. He is currently engaged in strategic advice on infrastructure and transportation for urban master planning in the ILG team in Arup. Eduardo focuses his work and research in alternative design practices which feed infrastructural inputs into architectural urbanism. He has been co director with Enriqueta Llabres of the Relational Urbanism Studio in Berlage Institute 2010 and 2012 as well as GSD Harvard 2013. Eduardo is currently co director of the Ma Landscape Urbanism in the Architectural association. Eduardo Rico has extensively lectured on his work on Infrastructures and Landscape as well contributed to various articles and books on the subject matter.

Jose Alfredo Ramirez is an architect, co-director of the Landscape Urbanism MArch/MSc programme, founder of Groundlab where he has won and developed several competitions, workshops, exhibitions and projects and Director of the AA Visiting School in Mexico City. Alfredo has taught and delivered workshops internationally on the topic of landscape urbanism and the work of Groundlab. 

James Mak is the Founder and Chairperson of Project Little Dream (PLD), a charity founded in Hong Kong that designs, builds and runs primary schools in Cambodia since 2009. With a strong belief that architecture is a fundamental agent in a developing context, his research has been about vernacular architectural practices in post-conflict Cambodia. He is the author of Of Dreams and Spaces, and has taught in Diploma 1 of the Architectural Association. He has a background in human geography and architecture, and was educated in the London School of Economics and the AA where he obtained his BA(Hons) and AA Diploma.

Alison Cheng has seven years of experience working in Cambodia, with projects ranging from the design of libraries and sanitation facilities to local material testing and fabrication. She is an Executive Director for Project Little Dream (PLD) and recently completed PLD’s fifth school in Thnout village. Her interest in both traditional and Modern Khmer architecture has heavily influenced her as an architect and maker. Having worked at The Center for Architectural Heritage Research in Hong Kong and Atelier FCJZ in Beijing, she is interested in architecture as both a literary and material craft.  Alison is educated at the Architectural Association and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Hussam Dakkak is an architect and researcher based in London. Hussam is a founding partner of Studio Bound working on projects between London and the Gulf. Hussam is also director of AA Jeddah, a research platform that was launched in 2015 studying and archiving Makkah. 

Kate Davies is an artist and architect. She is co-founder of nomadic design studio Unknown Fields, art practice LiquidFactory and field robotics group RAVEN. She undertakes site-specific and expedition-based work, operating through films, objects and installations. Kate was unit master of Diploma 6 [Unknown Fields] for eight years, as well as teaching MArch [unit 23] at the Bartlett, UCL. She is now Head of Media Studies and Director of the Unknown Fields Research Studio at the AA. She holds a BSc, Diploma and Masters in architecture from the Bartlett, UCL.

Tiipoi is a design studio and brand based between Bangalore and London founded by Spandana Gopal. Tiipoi challenges perspectives of what is considered ‘Indian Design’ taking into account India’s colonial history, and the role it plays in mass-producing ‘crafted’ products for the west. Tiipoi’s design process is about creating a new narrative that takes its inspiration from existing design objects and systems in everyday life that haven’t been seen or categorised as such, due to there not being a historical canon for India’s design history pre and post independence. The nostalgia towards craft has its origins in the West,  and continues today to only re-enforce the stereotype of what products made in India should look and feel like. As a studio, Tiipoi uses design to look at ways craft can evolve and innovation can occur. Tiipoi’s challenge is to position itself as an Indian Design Studio where lesser known concepts of design thinking from India - particularly around issues of materials, sustainability and waste - can enter into the larger dialogue in contemporary design today. 

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

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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.