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Dark Matter Laboratories: Indy Johar and Carlotta Conte

The Rise of the Civic Economy

Series: Rules-Systems-Becoming: Recoding Architecture
Date: Tuesday 28 April 2020
Time: 18:30
Venue: AA Lecture Hall

We are in the process of rethinking this lecture as a virtual event, please check our website closer to the time for more details.

While our scientific discoveries and technological development have reached unforeseen imaginaries, our societies are on the edge of a cliff, driven by a perfect storm of the effects of climate change, accelerating automation and growing inequality.
Whilst we set increasingly ambitious targets, our capacity to imagine & practice in the development of new human environments seems entirely broken and captured by the perceived truth of our institutions, rights and our economies- from ownership to planning.
Throughout this series, we will discuss with critical necessity the need to renew how we understand the dark matter of our built environment, reimagining the deep codes of urbanism, our means of organising for change in a complex world and the subject of our reality what it means to be human in our increasingly dense, intense and conflicted cities in the face of a radical transition.


The Rise of the Civic Economy: Our commons are deteriorating (from vacant high streets and civic goods, to contaminated soils and toxic air). Economies of scale and frictionless societies are foundational to the spread chronic illnesses - unleashing crises of mental health and isolation - where our ‘postcodes set life outcomes’. This is deeply challenging both our welfare budgets and the fast growing networked monopolies. This is deeply challenging how we understand, measure, account and exchange flows of value. We are struggling to capture the value created by intangible assets - even if these are progressively becoming part of our economy (i.e. trees are carriers of multiple ecosystem benefits - from the depuration of our air to the filtering of our storm water - yet we still account them as costs in public books, and their value is captured by landowners).
This requires us to drastically rethink our Civic Economics of Architecture.
Might we come to unbundle the flows of value around us - redistributing our infinite energy, enforcing the use and capture of data value flows around us, and re-circulate our biological and technological matter - what new alliances might we have to bond in order to reframe real estate value across all architecture facets?

Reading List: 00 [zero zero], Compendium for the Civic Economy, 2011; Dark Matter Labs, in collaboration with Community Foundations of Canada, Evergreen (Future Cities Canada Initiative), MIS/Maison de l'innovation sociale, MaRS Discovery District and McConnell Foundation, Building Civic Capital, 2019; Marianna Mazuccato, Redefining Economic Value, 2018.

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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.