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Organised by Silvana Taher & Matilde Cassani; Michael Smythe and Thomas Thwaites

Session 3: What is a state of nature? - Green is not a colour

Series: Open Seminar - Plan the Planet
Date: Monday 21 October 2019
Time: 18:30
Venue: AA Lecture Hall
Running time: 43 mins

Green is not a colour will look at the moment where art and the natural world come together, asking how it is that the artist can provide an alternative view and mode of engaging with the environment. As a starting point of discussion, we will ask the speakers to respond to the provocation that the ubiquity of environmental concern has lead to an often flippant quality of discussion, whereby ‘being green’ becomes a political tool aimed almost exclusively at garnishing support. In this session of Plan the Planet, we will discuss the downsides of mainstream environmentalism, with artists who have helped humankind reconceive of nature and our relationship to it.

Michael Smythe is an artist, campaigner and creative director of Nomad Projects, an independent arts foundation that develops experimental projects across digital and location-specific spaces. Nomad Projects critically engages with issues surrounding environmental and social justice within the urban landscape. Recent projects include Phytology (, an urban physic garden and research institute in Bethnal Green (East London), Urban Mind ( a global research project investigating the relationship between the landscape and mental health, and So Below (, a cartoon essay exploring our current and historic relationship to the land. Michael studied installation, performance and art history at the Australian National University, Canberra, and Hochschule Der Künste, Berlin.

Thomas Thwaites is a designer interested in the social impacts of science and technology. He holds an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art, and a BSc. in Human Sciences from University College, London. His work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is exhibited at major galleries and museums worldwide. He is the author of two books; The Toaster Project, and GoatMan.

Michael Smythe: Introduction to Works
1. Seeding the City 

General Reading: Nature & the Anthropocene
1. The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf
Recommended reading:  Drawdown (2017) Penguin Books “Alexander von Humboldt” (pages 24-25)
2. The Shock of the Anthropocene by Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz
Recommended reading: Part One: What’s in a Words (pages 3-44)

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.