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AArchitecture 18 / Term 1 2012/13 Š2013 All rights reserved Published by the Architectural Association 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES Please send your news items for the next issue to Editorial Board Alex Lorente, Membership Brett Steele, AA School Director Zak Kyes, AA Art Director Editorial Team Eleanor Dodman Radu Remus Macovei Roland Shaw Graphic Design Claire McManus AA Photography Valerie Bennett and Sue Barr Printed by Blackmore, England Architectural Association (Inc) Registered Charity No 311083 Company limited by guarantee Registered in England No 171402 Registered office as above









CONTENTS 2 3 4 8 10 12 14 15 16 18 20 22 24




A FLEA IN OUR EAR Christopher Pierce explains the position research plays in Intermediate 9, which he teaches with Chris Matthews.

James Mak making

purported that if you hadn’t read the then en vogue Frenchies Derrida or Deleuze then you couldn’t possibly design. Looking at their recent work shows just what illiterates they must be. In higher education, it’s a Blair-ite invention-fantasy that even lifers in former, intellectual-less polytechnics were doing ‘research’, and that by dressing or packaging their ‘mutton as lamb’, the government would give them money for it. Neither Chris nor I could imagine two less compatible tasks than research and design. As Mark Cousins said to me the other day, ‘Gentlemen don’t do research.’

Chris Pierce teaches Intermediate 9 alongside Chris Matthews. For more information about the unit please visit

According to the 21st-century’s most widely consulted backlit manuscript – Wikipedia – the term ‘research’ was first used in 1577. While its occurrence for the next several hundred years must have been regarded as unusual, today the word is used more frequently than Michael Moore eats McDonald’s hamburgers. The last thing that Chris and I would ever want is for one of our students to be ‘researching’. It’s the architecture student’s latest and most effective displacement practice, previously reserved for ‘modeling the context’, and equal to what our friend and Unit Master Peter Ferretto refers to as the lousy design tutor’s refuge – ‘pedagogy’. We’d put ‘researching’ on par with ‘rendering’ – another self-delusional practice of grandeur or hypertrophic activity akin to poetry or pantomime. That ‘research’ also sounds like a French laxative – incidentally its etymological origin is from our baguette-wielding neighbours – and that generally those people proclaiming to do it are either currently on one or could use one isn’t doing it any favours either. Who isn’t ‘mastur– . . .’ I mean ‘researching’ these days? So do you have to be Posh Spice to eschew research? No. Even more mysteriously, ‘research’ has foolishly become associated with rigour, which is altogether different and something that Chris and I do firmly espouse. Nevertheless, if you declare yourself today as ‘researching’ then somehow by association you also sport an inextinguishable halo; if not, you’re just one of Adolf Loos’s degenerates. In architectural terms, I blame the word’s emasculation on those deconstruction smart-asses. It’s the product of a 30-year old hangover from two now 60-cum 80-year old John Portman wannabees – Libeskind and Eisenman – both of whom absurdly



Pier Vittorio Aureli teaches Diploma 14 alongside Maria Giudici. For more information on their unit please visit

Pier Vittorio Aureli on the approach to research in Diploma 14, which he teaches alongside Maria Giudici.

After graduating from the now defunct Berlage Institute in 2001, I firmly refused to do research. At the time the Institute was heavily influenced by Koolhaas’s AMO research style. Google search was still new and Wikipedia did not yet exist; it was still regarded as “cool” to grab a bunch of data from the internet and display it in fat books with countless 72dpi images. I stood against this total nonsense, instead, I did projects. For my graduation I presented ten architectural projects represented in dry plans, sections, and axonometries, nothing else. No research. No narrative, no explanation, no excuse. Similar to Frank Stella’s famous minimalist credo, my main argument was “What you see is what you see”. I believed “architecture itself” was enough to support a thesis; no need for research. For me, research was a complete waste of time and when obliged, I would first do the project, which I would hide, only afterwards would I create the supporting “research”. Later, I started to see the shortcomings of this attitude. I realised that to hate research because it was done so superficially was not enough to reject it. Moreover, I started to realize that you don’t need to go far from architecture to do research. In other words, I “discovered” that instead of learning from anything else and trying to apply this knowledge to architecture, we can learn from architecture itself. Architecture in the form of a building, a plan, a drawing, a text can be seen as a paradigm of a particular historical time, as such it offers one of the best sources of knowledge about the world itself. Such an attitude towards architecture can only be fruitful if we take architecture seriously, meaning if we assume architecture as

not just the art of building but a form of knowledge. What is peculiar about this form of knowledge is that it is radically materialistic, privileging objects (from drawing to building) as its point of departure. Rather than “Learning from Las Vegas” we must “learn from architecture”, to use architecture not as an end, but as a means, as evidence allowing us to understand who we really are. In Diploma 14, Maria and myself push students to research, to do it regardless of their project. We don’t believe what students do for their research will be useful for their design proposal. We see research as something independent, something that does not need “application” to be legitimized or, worse, compulsory. Research, the gathering and editing of evidence, simply improves our architectural literacy in terms of both how and why architecture is made. The latter is the most difficult issue to approach, to ask why architecture, means to ask if architecture can be the right answer to all questions. As professional architects we may take for granted any commission, any demand of architecture. But if architecture is a form of knowledge and knowledge is per se “critical” (a word that like research has been so abused that it has, for many, lost any meaning – but should we throw out the baby with the bath water?) then research should not be misused as the automatic fabrication of evidence for one’s own design solution. Research may be unproductive or useless, yet it is precisely the excuse to slow down our creativity libido, our “spontaneity”, our private intuitions, our “genius”. We must force ourselves to not take anything for granted, not even our deepest beliefs and have the courage to start from scratch.


THE ARCHITECTURE OF TRANSIT Sue Barr, Architectural photographer and First Year Media Studies tutor at the AA, describes how she uses architectural photography as a research methodology in her PhD.


Via Domenico de Roberto, Napoli

Via Walter Fillak, Genova

‘Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts…’ Garry Winogrand My doctoral research began with the question; how is it possible to photograph a motorway; megastructures that run for thousands of miles and cross international borders? The E45, for instance, one of the longest Trans-European highways lays in a concrete ribbon across the landscape, from Frederikshavn in northern Denmark to Reggio Calabria in southern Italy. How can a photographer express this? When we consider the architecture of motorways, our immediate thoughts could be the Millau Bridge seen from a heroic helicopter viewpoint or the bewildering futuristic road networks in Asia. Going against the cliché and opting for the individual, I wanted to explore the origins of these architectures from ground level, in Italy where motorways were invented and in Switzerland where their aesthetics were perfected. For much of its route, a motorway’s architectural presence is uneventful, even dull.. The technical and structural

engineering of the motorway is intentionally invisible below the surface of the road, imperceptible to the drivers above. But it is when the motorway is confronted with a more challenging terrain – that of a mountainous topography or a city, that the motorway adapts and reveals its architecture accordingly. One of the project’s case studies is the port of Genova located between the sea and an immediate mountainous topography; it is the site of one of the world’s first motorways. Designed to expediently move traffic out of the port its architecture is punctuated with frequent tunnels immediately preceded and anteceded by towering concrete piloti supported ribbons of viaduct in its route over, under and through the city. This extreme topography and the resultant architecture have created a complex landscape of violent adjacencies.1 Here the conditions of proximity, scale and light combine to create a number of extraordinary sites that defy belief. But within these extraordinary sites a strange paradox occurs, the enormity of the motorway’s scale or proximity to other buildings in some way negates the architecture, making them indiscernible or simply hidden within plain sight. At first glance they are merely a complicated visual jumble but with extended viewing the photographic frame is able to decipher their apparent complexity. The photographer’s decision to include or exclude within the four edges of the viewfinder expands the image from that of objective reproduction to a narrative representation. Analogous to the 18th century aesthetes’ choice of the alpine over maritime route into Italy in search of the real life Awesome Sublime, as depicted in the London shown paintings of de Loutherbourg and Turner, this project seeks to discover how photography can be used as a methodology for the revelation of these extraordinary conditions on a modern grand tour through the use of a large format digital camera. 1 Chapter 8. Contradiction Juxtaposed. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. Robert Venturi. MoMA. 1966

Sue Barr is currently preparing an exhibition of motorway photographs. You can see more of her photographic work at and


7 Top: Via Orti, Isola del Cantone Bottom: Via Silvio Spaventa, Genova


AGAINST RESEARCH Thomas Weaver, editor of AA Files and course tutor in the History & Critical Thinking MA programme, questions research.

Two things happened to architectural education in 1968. The first was in May of that year when a European and then a global wave of student protests (initially against the Vietnam War, but then later in revolt against pretty much everything else) forced the closure of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris – the 350-year-old bastion of not just an architectural education but of a whole aesthetic way of appreciating the built world through a rigorous, if draconian, artfulness. The second was a few months later, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when the US Ford Foundation (famously a covert academic front for the more nefarious ambitions of the CIA) funded the establishment of the MIT’s Urban Systems Laboratory, ‘an interdepartmental and multi-disciplinary laboratory focusing on urban problems’. The consequence of these twin events was that after 1968, whenever any architectural students engaged with the task of further exploring a given subject, they described this process as ‘research’. Before then, the imperative to take in other ideas or sources was called something else. It was called ‘reading’. In many ways, then, the disparity between two different ways of describing curricular or extra-curricular academic study comes down to that hoary old dilemma between architecture as art or as science, or between seeing the stuff of learning as made up of either an irresolute but vital assemblage of ideas or a quantifiable and calculable set of data. What seems clear today, though, is that the paradigms offered by science still appear to occupy the dominant position. Like MIT in the 1960s, the artful architectural studio is increasingly being transformed into the artless design laboratory. And with this

recasting, words like ‘disciplinarity’, and its bastard child ‘inter-disciplinarity’, have started to pollute all presentations, as has the notion that a design only now emerges as a consequence of objective environmental forces rather than subjective cultural, historical and aesthetic ideas. Of course, the Trojan Horse of this appropriation is the computer itself, today no longer simply understood as the mechanism that allows for a certain enlightenment but as a model for a way of intellectualising and articulating based only on incontestable input and output. The abbreviations of this scientific language have even gone on to establish some kind of weird syntax of their own – with the first move of any design study, seemingly protected by the cloak of irreducibility that science affords, now branded as v_01.1 – as if, like some inflexible DOS system, our brains can no longer understand proper words. Interestingly, this shift has also gone on to enter the way architects name their practices. When, in 1979, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio set up their own office in New York, they played-off the zany avant-gardism of their first projects by juxtaposing it against the precise mathematical clarity of their office name: Diller + Scofidio. A few years ago Foster and Partners employed the same trick (despite the obvious absence of any design radicalism), as part of the firm’s hugely expensive rebranding, dropping the ‘and’ in favour of the plus sign, and in the process establishing some kind of parable – when a firm like Foster starts tagging itself like an algebraic equation then you know immediately that this marriage of science and architecture is no longer part of the vanguard but is something at once predictable and highly corporate.

If you are interested in Thomas Weaver’s writing, please visit the AA website for the biannual publication under his editorship, AA Files :


For sure, this unthinking embrace of technological tropes and of architects with science on their minds can be traced to the post-1968 onrush of digitisation, but at the same time the idea of research and architecture goes back much further. What is a PhD or Doctor of Philosophy, for example, if not some strange kind of scientific residue, wherein the highest form of learning or expertise is awarded with a medical title; and what is both the verb and noun best used to describe the task of a doctorate but ‘research’? Couched in these terms, research could be seen to date back as far as the Middle Ages and the first ever doctorates, but more plausibly to early nineteenth-century Germany, when arts faculties started to insist upon an identifiable body of what they termed ‘research’ for all of their graduate degrees. The success of this model meant that it was soon exported to the US as the basis for all of the Ivy League university PhD programmes. In architecture, or more specifically architectural history, this moment and place in time also happened to coincide with the elucidation of the academic discipline of architecture by successive generations of largely German historians – from Semper,

Burckhardt, Fiedler and Riegl, through to Wölfflin, Giedion and Panofsky. All of them explored their subjects with a meticulous, almost scientific sense of rigour (resulting in a body of work that definitively maps an incredibly complex history of ideas), but none of them recognised the need to write this history in anything but the driest and most turgid of prose. And this, ultimately, is the fundamental problem with research – that it has no sense of style, and that it seeks to convince only by the weight and faux immutability of its data rather than by the seductiveness of its thoughts and words. It also panders to the worst aspects of three different national stereotypes – a German dourness, an American military/industrial subterfuge and an English Thatcherite insistence of quantity over quality. So, in the end, what we are promoting when we endlessly talk up research is actually a highly reductive model of intellectual enquiry – one that is humourless, sexless, inarticulate and undiscerning. What we should be championing instead are more engaging models of thinking, and an opposing set of qualities that alternately beguile us with their erudition and assure us with their charm.


DON’T WORRY, IN ONLY TWO DAYS TOMORROW WILL BE YESTERDAY Rory Sherlock, a second year student in Intermediate 10, reflects on the different approaches to architecture, as presented by Wolf Prix in his lecture held at the AA on 27 November.

ANYTHING GOES. Keith Richards was an inventor. Constantly experimenting within his field, he would tune his guitar with open tunings, traditionally used to play slide guitar, but play chords instead, also removing the sixth string of the instrument to produce an entirely new sound. Through this innovation, Richards was the creative musical force which drove the backbone of the Rolling Stones’ iconic tunes, his original and experimental style shaping and honing the band’s music, producing over a period of several decades some of the most popular and recognisable songs ever to have been recorded, in turn crystalising and canonising the band as one of the most famous of all time. Wolf Prix too is an inventor. Given his recent lecture at the AA, it is clear he has a tremendous level of admiration for this great guitarist, his style, his experimentation, and ultimately his sound, and on reflection of the passage above concerning Keith Richards’ career, there begin to emerge some considerably potent parallels between the two. Now, that’s not to say that Wolf Prix is a rock star, though given his recent scathing article concerning the Venice Architecture Biennale and his ongoing love of the Rolling Stones, he would probably prefer to be branded as

such than a ‘Starchitect’. However, both men are innovators in their fields, and creative driving forces behind their collectives. Wolf Prix, like Keith Richards, is, through his work and experimentation, cementing a considerable reputation for himself. Having studied architecture at the Vienna Institute of Technology, the Architectural Association itself and the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, Prix went on to found his now internationally renowned practice, Coop Himmelb(l)au with Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. This returning lecture at the AA delves headlong into the philosophy and ethos of Coop Himmelb(l)au, and the practice’s position in the context of modern architecture and its direction, while simultaneously and relevantly discussing the relative genius of the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Christopher Walken’s dancing, Muhammad Ali’s punching, Barcelona FC, Dolphins as architecture, God as an iPad, and the possibility of creating a building out of the material form of Keith Richards’ introductory note to ‘Gimme Shelter’. Throughout his career Prix taught at the AA, SciArch, Columbia, Harvard and The University of the Applied Arts of Vienna where he served as Vice-Rector, Head of Studio Prix and Dean for the Institute

11 Wolf D. Prix_CF © Clemens Fabry

To watch the Wolf Prix Lecture please visit

of Architecture, retiring in 2012. It is clear that through these decades of teaching, he has honed his unique method of presentation and communication, something that he argues in his lecture is in a state of crisis among architects and their clients. Through stark optimism and erudite humour, two rarely witnessed phenomena within the current architectural situation, Prix is supremely entertaining in providing an insight into Himmelb(l)au’s research and work. ‘So, what is architecture?’ ‘Yes!’ The buildings that Himmelb(l)au designs and builds often divide opinion. They are, for the most part, very large public buildings, and in an era of austerity in which we find a shifting tendency towards economic and ecological efficiency, it is clear that such architecture is not always going to canvas a huge amount of favour. Prix acknowledges this architectural tendency towards efficiency, illustrating with a curt sound bite from Malvina Reynolds’ ‘Little Boxes’, the eco-friendly, small wooden houses that he feels we are being told should be the future of architecture. As a response to this, he

argues, in order to restore the generosity of space, which was for so long the intention of architectural design, we should extend the metre by five centimeters. This new metre would therefore create a 15 per cent increase in volume, and given an aggregated year on year inflation rate of 5 per cent, the increased allocation of budget would mean we could build the structure three years earlier. It’s certainly a new way of thinking. However, what underpins this humour is a very serious point. Himmelb(l)au is concerned primarily with public space and open systems. Prix explains that their ultimate intention is to design and produce buildings which achieve a synthesis between form and programme, and create new forms of physical public space, in order to avoid the ever-increasing notion of the network, which renders us ‘Timeless, Placeless, Homeless’ and ultimately, ‘Clueless’. In order to produce such new forms, and in order to progress architecture from what it currently is, we must break the rules, or forge new ones. When everyone else is calculating within the current system, to produce something better we must create a new one, similar to, he argues, the way in which Lionel Messi picks apart his opposition by risking an entirely different strategy. It is this desire to achieve architectural progress, and a genuine concern for the eventual eradication of public space which ultimately drives Wolf Prix and Coop Himmelb(l)au to produce the buildings, and commit to experimental design and research in the way that they do. Like Keith Richards, it is this radical and experimental creative method of research and design, which has forced the practice into the global architectural conversation and built up the reputation that they have today. Who else would design a building to look like a dolphin?

If cold, then cold as a block of ice. If hot, then hot as a blazing wing. Architecture Must Blaze.


SEARCH NOT RESEARCH Samantha Hardingham and David Greene, unit masters of Intermediate Unit 5, present their case for search, not research.

SEARCH means…to explore all over…to initiate a divergent investigation towards identifying dominant tendencies in contemporary culture, technology and human behaviours. It refers to what-we-need-to-know. S e a r c h (not research) is both a methodology and a design brief for speculating on and probing into the architectural consequences of today’s new nature – a new nature that grows between the cracks of the information age and the attention age: biochemical, genetic, quantum, roboticised, nanotechnological. The first generation of lifelong users of communications technologies are dispersed within a culture (what most people are doing most of the time) of continuous ventilation and circulation of information – a state of permanent mutual awareness. Search inhabits the two frontiers of Botany and Matter, on the one hand the rearrangment of living cells and on the other, the redescribing of matter itself. If research is a process driven towards increasing the sum of knowledge… SEARCH is the approximate and dynamic procedure by which multiple curiosities build towards unexpected consequences. It requires the searcher to bring to bear the full force of his or her imagination. S e a r c h is carried out in response to a provocation. It is measured by the effectiveness of questions asked, the ability to select useful constituents and to design ways to connect seemingly dissociated findings. Search requires a discerning eye and a detailed history, and is used whole-heartedly for the purpose of making design propositions, not as a time-space filler.

The architecture of the new nature and the pursuit of approximation.


Search party, c.2006 (IU archive)


SEVEN RULES FOR RESEARCH Hinda Sklar has been working in libraries for 42 years. At Harvard, she rose to be the Associate Dean responsible for the library and computing at the Graduate School of Design, and most recently was Head Librarian at the AA. Retiring in 2012, Hinda shares her rules for how to research.

1. Choose something that interests you a great deal, that you will enjoy working on. You want to research a topic that will expand ideas and stimulate new approaches. Don’t be afraid to tackle something completely new: you may become an expert before you know it! 2. Be a detective: follow footnotes, bibliographical notes, interesting ideas that cross your path. Research is partly about discovery, and one of the joys is the finding of something completely new to you or something that gives you a new take on something. Be as thorough as you can, given the time you have. 3. Document your research! Keep clear records of what resources you are looking at, such as page numbers, website addresses, etc. to quote later. You don’t want to have to rediscover where you found something key as you assemble your results. 4. If you are not sure how to begin, ask a librarian. Librarians know how to question you about your project and help you decide what directions to take in pursuing your work. They can show you how to search in online catalogues, and locate resources and books in the most productive way. Learning how to access resources properly can help you throughout your life. 5. If you are producing something written or are preparing a presentation, structure it before you actually start working on it. Begin with an outline and proceed to build on it. Learn how to produce a

Title page of Lord Burlington’s copy of ‘I Quattro Libri dell’architettura di Andrea Palladio’, Venetia: Apresso Bartolomeo Carampello, 1581 (AA Library)

bibliography for either a paper or a presentation. It will provide you with the documentation to continue your research at a later date. 6. If you are writing a paper, read it out loud to make certain it is clearly written and says what you want it to. If you are giving a presentation, rehearse it! Practice speaking clearly and try to avoid the pitfall of sounding as though you are just reading it. 7. Most of all, enjoy doing your research. It is the path to a lifelong pleasure in learning.


LIBRARY AS RESEARCH Eleanor Gawn, the new head librarian, discusses research within the AA library and the different ways that resources can be obtained.

For more information on the Library please visit

Cover of ‘Wendingen No.11–12, P.L. Kramer: de Bijenkorf in den Haag’, Santpoort : C.A. Mees, 1925 (AA Library)

The AA Library has primarily developed to support the teaching programme in the School of Architecture and to provide a library service to AA Members. Perhaps because of the variety of audiences it serves, the collection has its strengths and weaknesses. But both its primary and secondary resources allow students and Members to undertake research relating to professional practice, historical studies and the study of architectural theory. The Library’s role within the AA has gone from strength to strength and we have a close working relationship with the staff and students. However, we can always do more to meet their needs and to promote the collections to a wider international community. By developing a better understanding of what Library-users want and the research methods they use, we aim to further develop the Library’s collections and research facilities. A unique factor about the collections across the School is the way that they complement each other, allowing for research across the collections.

So what are the Library’s strengths? The Library has benefitted from the generosity of Members who have presented key historical works including Vitruvius, Serlio and Palladio. It also holds special collections relating to the Modern Movement and Le Corbusier, international exhibitions and the nineteenth century, as well as AA Publications including exhibition catalogues, prospectuses, Projects Reviews and events lists. The Archives and AA Publications complement the AA theses collection, which dates back to 1950. Research methodologies have changed dramatically in the past decade and the Library has sought to address these by developing its electronic and online resources. We subscribe to several databases and indexes including JSTOR and EBSCOhost. These are available both onsite and offsite through the MyAthens account facility. For books in high demand, we are developing our collection of E-books too. We are fortunate to benefit from the digitisation of the collections, such as AA Files which is now available through JSTOR. The Library staff are key to helping users with their research. They have specialist subject knowledge and professional information skills in searching and navigating the online catalogues, information management and copyright etc., and they also offer online training sessions.


ENGAGEMENT, NOT RESEARCH. Lionel Eid, a fifth year student studying under Carlos Villanueva Brandt, contemplates the different way research is approached in Diploma 10.

The roots of AA Diplma Unit 10 go back – way back to 1973 when Bernard Tschumi became its seminal tutor. In The Discourse of Events, Alvin Boyarsky (the then Chairman of the AA), wrote ‘the starting point for the work of the unit was programme, particularly as seen from the point of view of the individuals involved’. Later, when Nigel Coates took the helm of Diploma 10 in 1979, Boyarsky noted a disposition towards ‘in situ experiments’ with ‘special sympathy for the actions and life of some of the shabby but vital urban institutions of the moment’. This lineage of curiosity towards the ‘live’ aspects of the city continued well into the mid 1980’s when Carlos Villanueva Brandt (student of Coates), took charge first alongside Robert Mull and subsequently as sole unit master. Since 1989, Villanueva Brandt has been evolving the unit’s inherently urban agenda towards increasing engagement with the social and physical mechanisms that constitute our city. Notice that I did not choose the words ‘has been conducting research’. Instead, engagement is the operative word here. If Diploma 10’s aim has been to explore and experiment with metropolitan phenomena, then conducting research, in the conventional academic sense, would not suffice. Can we explore site-specific conditions in the pages of a thesis? Can we experiment with the actions of individuals or groups and their effects on the city through writing? Probably not and, if indeed we could, our understanding of these situations would be extremely narrow.

The task of research, though systematic, can often be remote (both literally and figuratively), from that which it attempts to examine. This is especially true when we consider the study of urbanism. Take football as a possible research topic: no meticulous documentation of the rules, no critical analysis of a match, no fundamental critique of sport could possibly describe the effects that football has at an urban scale. Football stadia act as economic catalysts; they impact local rental values and can enhance (as well as disrupt), basic public services such as transportation and waste management. The tens of thousands of fans who attend matches will transform residential neighbourhoods into carnivalesque environments where quotidian norms of etiquette and delineations of public space are altered within a matter of minutes. We also know that local derbies can incite tribalism and extreme acts of violence: hundreds of police, security and medical personnel are deployed to choreograph such events. Conversely, major triumphs and victory parades can act as potent, historic and socially cohesive moments

17 Thor Kleppan’s Pooh Sticks, 1996

To see more work from Dip 10 please refer to their book ‘London +10’ published by AA Publications.

Children in West Belfast playing Pooh Sticks, 1996

in the life of a city. Clearly, in these ways, the complexity and richness of urban life becomes intelligible only once we have left the confines of the studio or library. For the past two decades, Diploma 10 students have performed increasingly in the etymological sense of the word ‘research’. Derived from the French recherche meaning to ‘search’ or ‘go out and seek’, a more accurate definition of our ethos would include ‘to get one’s hand dirty’. Indeed a brief history of the unit reveals (as evidenced in detail by the London +10 book), that its most illuminating projects have had embedded within them an active involvement with the social, physical and legislative systems that form our experience of the city. In the 1990s, alumnus Thor Kleppan engaged locals of West Belfast in a game of Pooh Sticks: ‘they played, they watched and talked about the river and, without being aware of it, crossed and re-crossed the normally impenetrable social divides’. Some years later, Jan Willem Petersen embedded himself within the Anti-Terrorism branch of the Ministry of Defence in order to propose alternative strategies of

counter-terrorism that embraced rather than ignored the contemporary realities of security and control in the public realm. Another student, Thomas Hildenbrand, sold certificates of membership to residents who lived under the shadow of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, thus mobilising into action an abstract community which was literally (and metaphorically), being overshadowed by the church’s divisive development plans. More recently, Anna Mansfield actually became a magistrate in order to explore the urban potential of expanding and localising the justice system. So what can we learn from these experiments? Evidently we are not looking at traditional modi operandi. Instead, the unit has continually embraced a ‘direct’ approach as an antidote to the academic. If we look retrospectively, however, the collective body of work of Diploma Unit 10 presents a unique contribution to architectural knowledge in its ability to learn from and act within the complexity of urban life. And this has primarily been through engagement, not research.


RESEARCH AFTER THE AA Tom Fox, who graduated with honours in 2011 from Diploma Unit 4, argues for the value of research in rethinking the role and practice of an architect.

Colonel Gaddafi and Silvio Berlusconi. Source Associated Press

Roland Shaw: Tom, you are now pursuing research at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. What relation does this research have with your fifth year project at the AA? Tom Fox: In a way, it is a logical conclusion to my Diploma work, as there were certain things I’d like to have spent longer on, but didn’t. A year’s research project has given me the space and time to do that. It might sound like a big leap to go from a year-long design studio at school to doing research on my own, but compared to research in any other academic field, a design unit at the AA actually looks very much like a research project. In the discussion about research at school there’s often this distinction made between research and practice, but it’s interesting that you find your personal research as a means of sharpening your practice. I think that’s probably one of the most fundamental strengths of the unit system; if you want, you can spend two years working within a group doing research and using that to shape a practice. Most of the architects we see coming to lecture here have been doing the same project for

19 years, but just with different briefs. To draw that distinction between practice and research misses the vitality of both worlds. By devoting a period of time to research and enquiry, forming links around you with people who have similar interests, and also developing ways of intervening, you can really develop a form of practice. The past ten to fifteen years have seen a great amount of research undertaken into what the contemporary city is and how we might describe it, and there are now units such as Diploma 4 looking at how to engage with it. To think that there is one way to teach or practise architecture when the urban condition is so uncertain is misleading. That’s why such research is really valuable.

If you would like to find out more about the Jan van Eyck Academie as well as Tom’s project there, please visit:

There’s also a collaborative aspect to it. There is. That’s the other reason I was keen to do research. It’s quite alarming how many of the architects who lecture here or publish books are fairly protective of their ideas in practice. But in academia and the research I’m doing, people are incredibly generous with their time as well as their ideas. This is the value of research; you’re part of a discursive practice, which I think has been lost in architectural practice. This is where a distinction between practice and research is damaging, implying that at some stage you have to move on and earn a living from practice, and that you can’t go in reverse. Can you say a little more about your own research? The project I’m currently undertaking is focused on the border of Europe. The European border is exceptional in that it mixes a wide variety of phenomena in a very extreme way, demonstrating that there are so many novel ways of shaping space. It mixes the extreme fragmentation of Israel and Palestine, the large scale migration in China, the global city and the ageing European city, all of which have been theorised and discussed individually over the past ten years. The fact that there are so many of these urban conditions right next to each other on the European border makes it very fertile ground to look at ways in which people have generated agency in the city. That’s where the research is now, and why I’m continuing it as research rather than going straight into a practice environment, where these things can’t be questioned with such ease. It’s a cliché now to say that architects have lost a significant amount of their influence in shaping the city, but rather than lamenting that I think there are emerging ways of being an architect, and it’s up to us to find those out. It’s interesting that the people we’ve lost this work to, so to speak, are consultants, and in their work it’s very difficult to distinguish between research and design. They have no established way of intervening, so they form what is essentially a research project to decide how to build a team that intervenes in a situation and design a way of doing it. We can learn a lot here about how we can do research in practice. As architects, we don’t want to have to make the distinction between research and practice.


PARADISE LOST Mark Campbell, director of Paradise Lost AA Research Cluster and unit master of Intermediate Unit 1, gives an overview of the Research Cluster’s interests.

Aptly enough this research began with a single image. One of an abandoned building on a street of similarly abandoned and shuttered buildings, set within a city of vacated streets alongside the Mississippi River. History, as Walter Benjamin reminds us, is not only comprised of such images, but also is itself an image. And — read in these terms — our research has been interested less in what these images describe, than attempting to understand what they are ‘about’. Following this lead, we have been examining the work of a number of prominent photographers — Walker Evans, Robert Frank, William Klein, Garry Winogrand, William Eggleston, Jacob Holdt, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld, and Mitch Epstein — who have all sought to consider the United States in imagistic terms. Searching through these images it is striking how certain tropes — or visual tics — reoccur, with these recurrent ghosts including household appliances, beds, refrigerators, the interiors of seedy rooms, barbershops, diners, oversized cars, objects of devotion, indeterminate bodies, guns and — by way of an obvious example — TVs. ‘Television,’ as the writer Don DeLillo once offered, constitutes ‘the primal force in the American home . . . It’s like a myth being born right there in our living room, like something we know in a dream-like and pre-conscious way.’ In his travelogue America , the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard recognised a very different — if interrelated — dream-likeness to that espoused by DeLillo, the former Fifth Avenue copywriter. ‘Television knows no night,’ he suggested. ‘It is perpetual day. TV embodies our fear of the dark, of night, of the other side of things’. In short, it seeks to mitigate our fears — obscuring

William Eggleston, Graceland (1984)

what it is truly ‘about’ (while simultaneously manifesting it) — through the incessant transmission of images. A broadcast that requires even less of a message than it does a conscious audience. In acknowledging this condition, this cluster has begun to explore how this ethereal cathode light — cast by the multitude of TV sets inhabiting these photographs — not only gives light to the architectures they describe, but also illuminates the residues of these paradises lost.


For an insight into the AA’s various research clusters visit:

Clockwise from top right: Jacob Holdt, Tania. Miami Beach, Florida (1975); Stephen Shore, Stampeder Motel, Ontario, Oregon, July 19, 1973 (1973); Holdt, The Beauty and the Beast. Baggie feeding her child while President Nixon speaks. Shortly after I lived with Baggie in Greensboro she was sentenced to 25 years in prison for armed robbery (1975); Garry Winogrand, Los Angeles (1964); Larry Sultan, Practicing Golf Swing (1986); Holdt, Young guys stealing a TV during a riot in Brownsville, New York (1975); and Robert Frank, Restaurant — U.S. 1 leaving Columbia, South Carolina (1956).


THE FRIDAY LECTURE Mark Cousins discusses his Friday lecture series with Eleanor Dodman. Previous series have included topics such as the ugly, the neighbour and, most recently, everyday life.

Mark Cousins, 2012 Photo Alexander Furunes

Eleanor Dodman: When and how did your Friday Lecture series start? Mark Cousins: I had already agreed to do some teaching in the main school after having already taught intermittently in the graduate school. Alvin asked me to offer a lecture series over the year where I would take one topic and lecture about it for the then three terms. He didn’t seem to me to be desperately interested in what I might talk about. He said he’d leave that to me, but he was extraordinarily interested in where I should teach it. So I think for the first two or three years I taught in the South Jury Room, which seemed to gradually build up. At that point, Alvin – still apparently indifferent to what I taught – began to think about moving me to the Lecture Hall. Alvin would study plans of the AA with the intensity of someone who knew nothing about the building, I learnt however that studying these plans was often Alvin’s way of concentrating. He realised, like Levi-Strauss that you needed something to think with. It is clear to me that he thought with the building. It is not so much the question of what he perceived about architecture, it was rather that he had trained his perception to be architectural. He was apparently faced with the choice of whether or not

23 this was the right time to move into the Lecture Hall – a decision he saw to be complex. In the end, he decided that I should. But he was obviously concerned that the change in space would result in a decline in the audience. I have to say I learnt more about concentration and about the need to think with something through the sight of Alvin studying the plan, than I might have got from many books.

To watch Mark Cousins lecture series please visit

Do you see you Friday lecture as a type of research? No I don’t. Is it research? It is difficult to answer this question in the AA when the word research is so comically overused. At the moment anyone who expresses a mild curiosity in something, describes it as research. Anyone who reads up a number of books on something is thought to be engaged in a research project. And anyone who is paid his or her bus fare to a library is thought to have won research funds. It would be better to return to older categories such as reading and working. With the exception of a few PhD students, archival research is not greatly to the fore at the AA. I think we would be better to describe ourselves as experimental. Here, I mean ‘experimental’ in the 18th-century term of the word, rather than experimenting in the ‘philosophy of science’ sense of the word. By ‘experiment’ I mean doing things to see what happens, whether at the level of thought or of design or at the level of argument. The material conditions of research laboratories or of research institutions will never apply to the AA. We should be more concerned with innovation and in presenting polemical challenges. My lectures are the product for better or for worse of reading and thinking. Sometimes that prior reading comes almost as a surprise. I am quite often surprised by how often I find myself turning to issues of classical antiquity both in the lectures and in courses that I teach outside that. Were your lectures ever conceived as being a continuous series from year to year? I have not done anything to produce a self-continuous series from year to year but I am rather appalled to see that they have much more continuity than I would like to admit. It is as if they make me more continuous than I am. There have certainly been changes over the years. What started out as a pessimistic view of things has developed into a black pessimistic view of things. But I remain fairly consistent in wishing to overturn the virtuoso interpretation of phenomena since I tend to think that virtue and intelligence are at opposite ends of the pole. Which series have you enjoyed lecturing about the most? Some have invoked more public interest than others, that is certainly true of the series of about ‘The Ugly’. Out of wickedness I enjoyed ‘The Neighbour’. That was a pleasure. I find myself thinking more about what the next one will be, and for a long time each year I am quite unable to decide on a topic. I feel like someone who has walked into a public library to pick up something to read, but given how wide the choice is, can’t find anything. Sometime around May or June I begin to feel that I have dreamed what it will be and once that happens I do not put up any resistance to doing it. It is as if your unconscious has set you an essay. You trust unconscious processes because they will help you to work more than academic habits will. I think that is true of all work including student work and should be a major issue when they come to chose what to work on. It should be something that has a kind of internal resonance rather than something which they think looks virtuosic in educational terms.


SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD AT ONE METRE THIRTY-TWO Jonathan Allen is giving something and nothing away.

Photo Valerie Bennett

Here is the test of wisdom, Wisdom is not finally tested in school, Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it, Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof, Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content, Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things; Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the Soul. Excerpt from Song of the Open Road, Walt Whitman, 1867

Jonathan Allen is a London-based visual artist and writer, and is currently teaching a course on secular magic and the politics of power at The Architectural Association

You should know right away that as I write these words, I am levitating precisely one hundred and thirty-two centimetres above the ground in the gallery at the AA in London. I began my ascent seventeen seconds ago, and I’m going to be floating here, at this height, for just forty-six … forty-five … forty-four seconds longer. The reason that I can be so precise about all of this is because my levitator, Mr Scott Penrose, has told me in advance that these are the constraints within which his expertise can be deployed for your pleasure during this short lecture. ‘You’ve got to give them something,’ I pleaded (on your behalf). But he’s a tough one. A professional. He’ll divulge nothing. Words are not enough. You want to see me floating. You want proof that I’m actually up here. But who can believe a photograph any more? Any image can be gaffed, can’t it? Still, I urge you to stay with me for the twenty-nine … twenty-eight … seconds we still have left together as you read. Move through this image, through these words, through your disbelief, and join me. There’s something I want to say to you. But wait. Scott is whispering. His lips aren’t moving of course because like all good illusionists, he’s also a skilled ventriloquist. He needs to be able to communicate information to his stage assistants without the slightest movement of his features. A hoop is slowly passing over me. A mysterious mist is rising. Well, it’s not that mysterious … it’s just dry ice, or ‘low smoke’, as some performers call it. But now that there’s a bit of atmosphere, a bit of drama, here’s what I wanted to say, or rather what I want an old friend-on-the-page to say for me…


The space is attempting to do two things. Firstly to provide a quieter, focused space to post-produce video and audio work generated by students. Secondly, to provide a Chroma Key function in a studio form that allows us to manipulate real video objects in real time. Over the years we’ve seen that video projects very often benefit from a longer working period. Non-linear software allows us to work with an open-project form that allows for multiple edits and versions. Students can re-work projects over time and introduce new material and ideas accordingly. Those who have to edit video benefit from working in a specialist environment. Knowledge transfer between students is also improved. Chroma Keying –being able to composite one video layer onto another using, in our case, a green hue –is not a new technique; it has however become simpler to control. We can remove the background to an object (a model, a student, whatever fits in the viewfinder) and re-position it onto another video. It would be simple to composite an image sequence of a student onto a small model of their making for instance. The process is quick and effective; indeed it is used live on TV for news broadcasts and so on. Here perhaps we can experiment a little more and attempt to explore different video spaces as we manipulate scale and perspective. A good example of architectural scale meeting cinematic artifice can be found here:, where Chroma Keying is used to combine seamlessly real and CGI footage for Boardwalk Empire. Over the past year the space has also proved successful in providing a base for time-lapse work too, whereby processes of change can be documented over a number of days if need be. It’s also a place to record and make sounds too, without fear of disturbance and to test out works before installation.

For more information on the Audio Visual Department please visit The room is open from 9.30 till closure. Students are required to sign out a unique membership card to use the space which is returned at the end of their working. Students are responsible for backing up work after project completion. File management should be discussed with Joel.

Photo Eleanor Dodman


DEPARTMENT OF TROPICAL STUDIES, AND THE ARROGANCE OF INFOGRAPHICS Graham K Smith, AA Diploma 11, delves into the AA archives, discussing the Department of Tropical Architecture and the current fascination for infographics.

As the group of countries that fall between the equator and the tropic of Capricorn become the focus for an increasingly large contingent of the school, it is important to remember that it is not for the first time. Between 1954 and 1968, it was possible to receive an AA Diploma in Tropical Studies. Led by Otto Koenigsberger, the Department of Tropical Studies attempted to understand the under-developed; what we would now call the third-world. Contrary to the contemporary level of analysis, they went about it in a way that avoided creating pornography out of the poor. There are three main differences between how Dr. Koenigsberger’s students approached the subject, and how we tend to do it today. The first is on the content. Typically, today, any attempts to illuminate the dark continents are done through visualising a kind of Keynesian analysis of a region; a macro analysis. We’ve all seen them, the endless coloured-in maps depicting trade or growth or GDP. These so-called infographics represent a very narrow vein of information. In contrast, The Tropical Department, in one year, focused on, among others: climate, light, air-flow, sociology, housing types, building processes, and the economics of a site at both a national level and a regional one. It is not enough to say that this quality of research is not just more exhaustive, or more zoomed in, it is fundamentally different – because

the analysis focuses on tangible topics. The fetish in contemporary architectural studies for the reduction of a society into a pie-chart is one which acts only as tenuous footing to hang a project from, and lacks the breadth as well as the nuance that comes from a more down-to-earth understanding. The second point, in what we can learn from the Department of Tropical Studies, is in regards to the media. As previously discussed, there is an ever-growing propensity to represent a region in a map, a pie chart or a percentage point, yet none of these techniques evokes an image of a place. No map can describe what a sunset in Lagos feels like, no pie-chart can describe the despair of being a refugee, and no percentage point can tell you how a mud-brick feels. The weakness in graphical representations lies in the fact that a numerical analysis can never offer a spatial understanding. Read for example, Mr G E Kidder Smith, describing a Moroccan town, ‘The town of Tinerhir is situated in one of the largest oases... In the early morning, when the fires are just being started for breakfast and the mist still hangs over the oasis, the effect is extraordinary.’ The notion that a numerical understanding can capture anything of the above is false and furthermore shows the crucial weakness of relying too heavily upon the shallow line of enquiry in an infographic.

26 AA Archive AAJ April 1963 pp302–309


For more information about the Department of Tropical Architecture please visit the AA Archives at

Ivan Colic. (10, April, 2011). An Infographic Of The Largest African Economies. Afrographique. 28 November 2012.

The final difference, is perhaps an ideological one, and the hardest to argue. There is a level of care paid by the students of the Department of Tropical Studies, that is no longer tended to. See the outline for the lecture on Building Materials in 1965 and it goes through ‘Timber and its uses, termites and termite control, earth as a building material, bricks and blocks, the weathering of materials, insulating materials and lightweight concrete, new materials and methods, paint, detailing of junctions, doors, windows, roofs, etc.’ Can you imagine a student today paying as much attention to the dangers of termites while at the same time thinking of the window details? Aside from the fact that rarely do students design entire buildings, there is a larger point to be made here. There is an inherent arrogance, in the assumption that an underdeveloped society can somehow be easier simplified than our own. Again, to cite Mr Kidder Smith’s account of his travels

through North Africa, he describes the cities of North Africa as the product of their historical backgrounds, in the same way we would do with the great cities of Europe. To diminish a city to less than that, is an act of arrogance, ignorance, and stupidity. There are elements of the Tropical Studies Department, that do stink of a second generation grand tour. For the most part, however, they managed to look into the darkness and to see, not a pie-chart but a beating heart. It is something to be commended, and as the AA continues to look at the tropics, should be emulated.


EVOLVING THE EXPERIMENT: NOTES ON DESIGN RESEARCH Theodore Spyropoulos, the Architectural Association’s DRL Director, considers the roles digital computation and open source media play in architectural design.

AADRL Proto-Design V.2 Theodore Spyropoulos: Studio Behavioural Environments Rub a Dub

In September 1969 a landmark issue of Architectural Design, guest edited by Roy Landau, brought issues of interaction and digital computation into the mainstream architectural media. Alongside articles by Nicholas Negroponte, Cedric Price and Warren Brodey, the issue featured an essay by the cybernetician Gordon Pask, which introduced the idea that ‘architects are first and foremost system designers who have

Team: Apostolos Despotidis, Rodrigo Chain, Sebastian Andia, Thomas T. Jensen

been forced to take an increasing interest in the organisational system properties of development, communication and control’. Architecture, Pask argued, had no theory to cope with the pressing contemporary complexities of the time, and it was only through a cybernetic understanding of systemic processes that its practitioners could help the discipline to evolve. The role that educational environments of today play


To learn more aboiut the work produced in DRL please visit

Negroponte, Nicholas (1970), The Architecture Machine Group

in design research is of great importance. Creating an active, open educational framework that enables our students to understand their role as participants who contribute to the progress of architecture is important to me. Within the DRL it has been very important under my directorship to pursue an educational framework that is diverse, experimental and that takes risks. We are living in radical times and the scope and reach of architecture should be as open and radical in its desire to address and respond to the issues of today. Our current research is pursuing an active engagement with materiality and forms of production under what we are calling Proto-Design. It is looking at systemic forms of design that address diverse strands of enquiry; social and material behaviour, building life cycles, agency and generative forms of design, onsite and robotic fabrication, digital materialism and craft all forming a critical response in the pursuit of alternative models for architecture. With afforded opportunities and access to information comes the challenges to reevaluate the conception and production of architecture today. Enabled communication networks have fostered the possibilities for a shared and collective projects to emerge that are distributed and afford a deeper understanding of the world and

our participation in it. It is important to remember the early experiments within this domain, such as those explored by Nicholas Negroponte and the Architecture Machine Group at MIT, in the sixties which spoke of the intimate association of man and machine within architecture. Or Cedric Price along with Joan Littlewood and Gordon Pask who designed the Fun Palace that would operate as a time-based architectural machine adapting and evolving through its everyday use. I find a great interest in the early second order cybernetic discourses and computational experiments of the 1960s and 70s, as they examined computation and the role of computers from a more conceptual and creative perspective. Many could only speculate without direct access to computers, a form of computing without computers, as John Frazer would say, that was coupled with a cultural and social optimism. It is a not a new pursuit in architecture, though it should be recognised that we have access and a collective understanding in ways that have never been afforded before. Design should be progressive and challenge people. We should be enabling a diverse set of questions of how we live and the role that architecture can play in our everyday. Architecture must participate.



A horizon is the interception of sight with the surface of the planet; it is a space that defines at once a position and an escape; it is a tangential condition. Thinking and doing research at Diploma Unit 4 is a practice that enquires into this condition. It sets out to ask how architecture operates amid a plurality of horizons, how different border regimes structure the spaces of operation of a multiplicity of agents. It asks how architecture can reimagine change and rethink its agency. The query about what architecture research might amount to, and what sort of knowledge is produced by architecture, intersects these horizons and the multiplication of sectoral rationalities they entail. The difference of architecture intelligence, its otherness and its distinction from other ways of enquiry, is what might give way to a methodological anxiety, an uncertainty about the ground upon which architecture operates. Open on all sides, this ground is marked by horizontal relations, trajectories that encounter stoppages and blockages, that force architecture research into systematic practices of account. To be systematic and consistent to research protocols and logs is what seems to be the bracing notion of change to which architecture should conform. Yet, these ordering protocols of research and knowledgeproduction often emerge from disciplines and domains equally open to instrumentalisation as architecture. How can we think of research not as the preliminary to action, rather as a specific condition of architectural practice? Not dissimilar, are the possibilities of enquiry into a field of spatial transformations characterised by distinctions,

separations, demarcations, clear-cut differentiation. How can divergent notions of agency and competing requests cohere into form-generating processes? How to sound the differences in contemporary inhabited spaces? What to make of the non-relational spaces they seem to elicit? A polyptych image, a set of many series of images taken from a variety of archives, is a way to start in the middle of things, with architecture in the middle of spaces where transformations are apparently not interacting one with the other. Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas indicates here the laying out of a plan of images in movement: a plan in geometric sense, where the gathering and assemblage of trajectories, timelines, forces and narratives reshapes the very idea of the possibility of direct intervention. This enquiry would resonate with Warburg’s ‘Nameless Science’, which too swiftly can be called back to rank, demanded to showcase production, products and be tagged down and defined, recalled to systematic ordering principles and founding knowledge. Yet, a polyptych image may be a way of operating from the middle of disjunctions and separations. It may be a way into radical negotiations with a plurality of transformation processes, of undoing ordering protocols. John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog are architects and urbanists. They have established Territorial Agency, an independent organisation that promotes integrated spatial transformations. They are Unit Masters at the AA, where they lead Diploma 4. The first steps of work at Diploma 4 are always the setting up of a polyptych.

To learn more about the work produced in Diploma Unit 4 please visit

John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, unit masters of Diploma Unit 4, explain some of the reasoning behind the polyptych, which each student in the unit makes as the first exercise of the year.

31 Diploma Unit 4 students preparing and presenting their individual polyptych projects at the beginning of the 2012 academic year.


ZAHA HADID: PRACTISING RESEARCH Guy Sinclair, first year student, reflects on the place of research in Zaha Hadid’s process of architectural production.

Earlier this November the AA was excited to once again welcome the newly honoured Dame Zaha Hadid to its public lecture programme. Undoubtedly one of the greatest celebrities of architecture today and a most notable alumna of our school, Zaha Hadid’s rather illustrious career seems to have been inextricably preoccupied with the notion of architectural research. During her early career her work seemed even too ground-breaking to be considered buildable, with a relentless rate of completion entries, all unsuccessful or unbuilt until Vitra. However, with a plethora of projects completed and under construction today, her avant-garde has become the mainstream, raising the question: is Zaha’s architecture still an architecture immersed in the realm of research or that of professional reality? Hadid’s recent lecture gave us a very personal view of her career and her firm’s current output, spanning the breadth of projects from the early Suprematist inspired compositions right up to a privileged sneak-peak at the latest constructions from her atelier in Bowling Green and the new parametricism of late. The compression of such a vibrant and renowned body of work into an evening lecture slot was in fact a rather fascinating manner of viewing Hadid’s architectural development. This illustrated the relationship that has emerged between research and practice within Hadid’s work, from her days as a student and tutor within the AA unit system, through toil as a radical avant-gardist to her position now as a recognised virtuoso of form and design.

Galaxy Soho – one of Zaha Hadid Architect’s latest projects in China, presented within the lecture

Zaha Hadid’s lecture at the AA on 6 November 2012 can be viewed online at

33 The nature of Hadid’s architectural research position has often been characterised by the intensive desire to mould form, originally articulated through the logic of perspectival and prismatic deconstructions. Now it appears that the explosive, shardlike geometry of the early projects has evolved into a coalescence of fluid surfaces, informed by concepts of striation, fields and topography. The tectonics of Hadid’s critique of what she calls ‘the generic project: the podium and slab or the podium and the tower’ began the transformation from fragmentation towards seamlessness – understanding space ‘without demarcating lines’ as a mode of architecture, which went far beyond the boundaries of contemporaneous forms. This ability of Zaha’s to be critical is inherently a condition of research architecture, questioning the established norms of architectural composition in order to propose something essentially new. However, this was admittedly a paper architecture, not initially conceived to be taken to construction, inhabiting the graphical dimension, the native home of conceptual innovation for architects. Usually then, the stumbling blocks to research architecture arise within the world of practice. Hadid seems to contradict this. By adopting new computational methodologies, one could see that her formalistic and conceptual paper research could be translated into the world of the tangible: graphical fictions might now truly become realisable structures. What’s more is that this move into the realm of practice from the beginnings of art and philosophy has enabled the materialisation of concepts which, until Hadid had explored them, remained wildly speculative. Zaha discussed specifically the notion of flotation of mass from the Russian vanguard, which ‘with collaboration with the engineers… we were able to interpret this in terms of lightness and structure.’ Operating in the mode of research within practice then brings a new level to research perhaps – not necessarily the limitations of implementing a design but the ability to consider one’s designs architectonically. Zaha Hadid Architects then exhibit the importance and potential of practising research, not only as it challenges, tests and enhances the forms created within the world of but also the way

in which research and practice can inform each other mutually. Indeed, the research at Hadid’s firm today is very different to what was seen as the completion of the modernist project all those years ago. Today the aegis of parametricism dominates the focus of research at Zaha’s: the development of a new style through the formulation of liquid geometries concerned with the deformation of fields and biological or organic paradigms for architectural form-making. It is even questionable if this new direction is exactly research, or rather the instantiation of an already concretised thesis on different scales – a more a priori take on the nature of research opposed to an arguably more heuristic process of sketch/design/ compose that seems to have characterised other projects. Conversely, the motive of this 21st-century architecture at ZHA may indeed be classified as architectural research, again realising new methods of construction: curvilinear geometries at huge scales and prototyping a multitude of novel forms. However, the notion of ZHA as a firm still primarily concerned with breaking new ground becomes tougher to validate presently when the factor of commerciality weighs in. With the rapid rate of production and the tendering of new commissions is there now room for further innovation at Zaha Hadid Architects?


CANOPIES TO CITIES: THE DEVELOPMENT WITHIN EMTECH Mike Weinstock and Evan Greenberg, directors of the Emergent Technologies and Design MArch program, trace the evolution of research within EmTech. Interviewed by current EmTech student Mary Polites.

Wave Canopy (2009) and Edible Infrastructures (2011) represent the range of research scales in the programme - from a material

system to an urban system; work produced as part of the EmTech programme.

Over the programme’s lifespan, EmTech’s research has focused on the conceptual structures of emergence and natural systems, such as the forms, anatomies, energy flows and behaviours that comprise a system. From these relationships we then develop a logic and apply this to architectural elements such as canopies, pavilions and other performative surfaces. The similarity shared amongst these applications is a method that is adaptable to various scales. While material and performance do not always scale up, the programme tests the logic and relationships between hierarchies in complex systems and how these may be applied to architecture. By these logics, the development of the programme has evolved beyond the initial output of EmTech research, into a deeper understanding of complex material and urban systems. To review how this development in scale of method has evolved, I interviewed the Studio Master Evan Greenberg and Course Director Mike Weinstock. Evan brought a perspective as a former Emtech student in 2007/2008 and Mike provided a global view of the direction and pedagogy of the programme and how it has developed since its inception.

35 Mary Polites: What are the differences you see now in the programme from when you were a student? Evan Greenberg: The ability to process information through computational and fabrication techniques has always been part of the methods of the programme. Therefore, as the development of these methods continued, so did the scale and amount of information that could be processed over the time period of a project. The computational tools that were accessible back in 2008 were limited, such as GC and Rhinoscript. The engineering tools available were in ANSYS, however it was much less user accessible than it is now. There was also a programme shift that implemented the introduction phase of EmTech, Boot Camp. This was introduced into the course in 2010/2011 with the goal of immersing students in the introductory tools and techniques of the programme.

Learn more about the Emergent Technologies & Design Programme at the AA by visiting

In looking at the dissertations submitted from the beginning there is a clear shift in the amount of work achieved and focus of the projects’ application. What do you see as the largest difference in the dissertations submitted while you were a student versus now? EG: In terms of the topics researched, typically there was at least one urban project that usually developed, but predominantly material and artificial systems. The aim was to address what could be done with materials and how to understand them and have control over their logic and behaviour. The conclusions of the work were not necessarily formalised as architectural proposals such as bridges, but developed into material systems that could be implemented such as a façade system. Since material systems had been the focus of the programme for about six years prior, this aim was evolving along with the research into more complex material systems which increased due to the computational capacities and level of work achievable in larger groups. As mentioned before, the methods developed are intrinsically tied to the tools and abilities within a group that are achievable over the course of a project. How would you describe the evolution of this research as it has occurred? MW: The ability to handle larger amounts of data along with new computational techniques have allowed for the scale and focus of the programme to develop from its initial days of material systems research. This development formally articulated the studio in 2008/2009 as one of the three main fields of design research; Active Material Systems with Advanced Fabrication, Natural Ecological Systems Design and Urban Metabolic Design. Urban Metabolic Design focuses on algorithmic design for models of new cities in emergent biomes. As the urban scale is quite large, what could you foresee being the next focus of the program? MW: In terms of the focus of the urban scale, the next level of complexity could be that of conurbations or areas that consist of a number of cities formed through population growth, that have merged to form one area. But, just as the urban scale was an extension of the current methods and abilities, the same will be for the next level of what is achievable. Research in Emtech is driven by algorithmic procedures, computer-aided analysis and an integration of material and computational form-finding techniques. As these methods evolve, so will the ability to implement them at larger scales to determine their logics and behaviour and develop new applications.


ANTHONY VIDLER AT THE AA: RE-WRITING THE HISTORY OF THE RECENT PRESENT Anthony Vidler, Dean and Professor at the School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, New York City, delivered six seminars in the Winter term, on the theme ‘How do we write a new history of the recent present?’

Anthony Vidler fondly noted at the start of his three-part public seminar that he has used the lecture hall of the AA as a testing ground for all of his books to date. This event, Re-writing the History of the Recent Present, made no exception, with a forthcoming volume on subjects including New Brutalism and the forerunners of Parametricism. The seminars took the form of an informal and anecdotal tour of his latest research, dealing with a small group of architects and theorists whom we daily, if lazily, summon in discussions around the school: Reyner Banham, Peter Eisenman and the Smithsons to name a few. Banham featured across all three seminars, the first of which, Learning to Love Brutalism, outlined the debate about the origins and definition of the term New Brutalism. Banham was ultimately disappointed that Brutalism never managed to be an ‘ethic, not an aesthetic,’ and instead remained forever stranded in the latter camp. With a possible predecessor in Swedish Neo-Brutalism and ambiguous etymological origins in either Dubbufet’s ‘Art Brut’ or Corbusier’s ‘béton brut,’ Vidler communicated the hopeless absurdity of this complicated and messy debate with jocular remarks. Played out in the pages of the Architectural Review from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, what stood out from this survey was a series of exquisite layouts in

powerful typography which formed far more compelling arguments in their own right than the often ludicrous intricacies of Banham or Johnson’s attempts at architectural genealogy. To add to the folly, Vidler claimed that he could identify only one built work and an unrealised project north of Soho as indisputably belonging to this ‘movement’ at the time of the articles. If the series was as much a review of a certain period of architectural journalism as the movements they covered, the second seminar, From Townscape to Postmodernism, demonstrated a very specific and perhaps now-forgotten use of photography, which, in one example guided us round Ronchamp in the style of a film or a modern day ‘fly-through’ visualisation. Here, the notion of ‘townscape’ was debated by James Stirling and Robert Venturi amongst others, and it was clear again how exceptionally complicated a task it had been for Vidler to establish the precise web of influences at work. Interestingly, it was to vernacular architecture that Stirling and the Smithsons looked in the 1950s to think about Modernism and its relationship with the landscape, citing Gordon Cullen’s Townscape Casebook of 1949 as a seminal reference.


Books by Anthony Vidler are available at the AA Bookshop:

New Brutalism, by Reyner Banham, Architectural Review, December 1955

The most seductive spreads in the series were left to the final seminar, Parametrics before Parametrics, in which Banham appeared yet again with his attempt to lay down the conditions for architectural theory and design in the next machine age. Typography and graphic layout were both beautiful and consistent here throughout a series of articles that were imaginatively illustrated with somewhat sci-fi pen-and-ink drawings and depictions of Banham’s beloved gadgetry. Vidler’s concluding comments suggested that this particular period was characterised by an astoundingly openminded and experimental sensibility, rarely seen today, in response to a radical evaluation of architecture’s role, if indeed it had any at all, in postwar Britain.


‘IN PLACE’ Manolis Stavrakakis, a current PhD candidate at the AA, writes on Michael Ventris’ invention The Perspectron, a device now held in the AA archive.

At the end of 1949 Michael Ventris drew a Christmas card to send to his friends. Having already graduated from the AA with honours (1948) Ventris started 1 a one-year course in the School of Planning and Research for Regional Development 2. 1949 was the year that Ventris started again ‘attacking’ the problem of ‘Linear B’ 3. He announced his successful decipherment –up to today the most outstanding achievement in the history of decipherment 4– three years later, on 1 July, 1952. It is not by coincidence that the Christmas card can be read as the mark of another achievement, his development of ‘The Perspectron’, a technique created by Ventris in the late 1940s, followed by a geometrical instrument, which was designed and fabricated by him. ‘The Perspectron’ remained buried until the spring of 2011 when Edward Bottoms, the AA Archivist , received a box, found at the AA, with all the material related to its patent, as well as the fabricated instrument itself. This instrument has a simple and distinct function: to help a draughtsman draw perspective without using a vanishing point. It substitutes for, and in effect makes the so-called secondary lines the draughtsman normally has to draw, vanish. Since the Renaissance there has been a search for means of drawing perspectives without calculating them. Robin Evans writes about this in an article published by the AA Files in 1992, entitled ‘When the Vanishing-Point Disappears’. Evans reveals the hidden virtues of Piero della Francesca’s, De Prospectiva Pingendi. De Prospectiva Pingendi is Piero’s own technique for perspectival drawing. Robin Evans points out a distinction, already existing in the Renaissance, between two

ways of drawing perspective. The first is described by Alberti in his Della Pittura and the second by Piero Della Francesca in De Prospectiva Pingendi: ‘Alberti said almost nothing about the vanishing point but he used it. Piero too avoids saying anything about it but he also avoids using it. At first he gingerly acknowledges the convergence of parallels into a vanishing point, then he dispenses with it altogether.’ 5 In fact, Piero’s technique omits the vanishing point and substitutes it for a sequence of dots that when they converge offer the outline of the object. In the third part of De Prospectiva Pingendi, the so-called, Other Method, Evans acknowledges the fact that Piero’s technique can be used for the projection not only of objects whose geometry is fixed but also for objects, such as the human body, whose outline changes continuously. But Evans doesn’t mention that one of these machines was produced in the late 1940s at the AA by Ventris. An article published in the AA Journal in February 1946 by Claude Claremont, called ‘PERSPECTIVE DRAWING Without Vanishing Points: A New Technique’, demonstrates why such a method was vital: ‘The difficulty overcome by the following technique will be familiar to all acquainted with perspective draughtsmanship. It is that of the Vanishing Point which persists in falling far outside the drawing space available.’ 6


For more information about Michael Ventris and the Perspectron please visit the AA archives

Michael Ventris, Christmas Card, 1949. AA Archives.

Ventris served at this time with the Royal Air Force in Germany as a bomb navigator. The war had finished but it took him a few months to be discharged and to return to his studies at the AA. Already by that time it seems that Ventris had started working on the same issue as Claremont. He published an article in the AA Journal, two months later, in April 1946, as a response and partly a criticism of Claremont’s technique. The article is called ‘Co-Ordinate Perspective’: ‘I was very interested to read Mr. Claremont’s description of a perspective method in the February number of the AA J. I have been working on the same problem myself. He has certainly got rid of vanishing points, and ingeniously. I don’t feel however that the economy of means has gone far enough.’ 7

Ventris criticises Claremont’s technique for three reasons. First, he doesn’t manage to increase the size of the finished picture. Second, the confusing construction lines still have to be drawn on the top of the plan of the object. Third, the two-dimensional drawings of the object, (ie the plan and the elevation), have to be drawn in the same plane as the one where the perspective drawing is actually going to happen. All of these issues are solved with his own, more refined, invention, the so-called ‘Perspectron’. In this early article, Ventris states clearly what he is aiming for: ‘ What I have been looking for is a technique by which you are not forced to draw a single line except on the finished drawing, which is to be on a separate sheet from the plan, and to any scale.’ 8

40 Looking back at Ventris’ Christmas card, it is impossible for someone not to notice Le Corbusier’s figure from his Modulor dressed as a Santa Claus. Ventris’ dry sense of humour is showing. Andrew Robinson, in his book The Man Who Deciphered Linear B, writes about a ‘personal encounter’ that Ventris had with Le Corbusier at the AA: ‘In 1947, during the centenary of the Architectural Association, the student committee of the school (which included Cox and Ventris) invited ‘Corb’ to visit, and rather to their surprise he accepted. He arrived, and the students gathered round, and at some point Ventris explained to Le Corbusier the nuances of a simple machine he had been steadily refining since his work on the officer’s mess in Germany, called the Perspector or Perspectron, by means of which architects could get coordinate dimensions for drawing perspectives. When he had finished, Le Corbusier responded by simply dismissing the need for such calculations. To draw an interior perspective, ‘Corb’ said (according to a listening Cox), he put the vanishing point for the right walls over the left and the vanishing point for the left walls on the right, ‘and then I get the impression that I’m in the place. I’ve got no time for these camera views of an interior.’ 9 Manolis Stavrakakis is an architect, currently a PhD. candidate at the AA. His Thesis title is ‘The Architecture of Linear B’, supervised by Mark Cousins and Spyros Papapetros. He is receiving a scholarship from the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and the Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY).

1 ‘Obituary: M.G.F. Ventris’ The Architectural Association Journal September–October (1956): 84. 2 The school was originally formed in 1935 as the School of Planning and Research for National Development. Elizabeth Darling, in her book Re-Forming Britain: Narratives of Modernity before Reconstruction, refers to it as ‘a sister school to the AA’. Jaqueline Tyrwhitt restarted the school after the war (1939–1956) giving it the name: The School of Planning and Research for Regional Development. The school was operating in Gordon Square. 3 Linear B script is the one of three scripts discovered in Knossos by Sir Arthur Evans in the 1900s, and up to today the only one that has been deciphered. 4 This characterisation stems from the fact that Ventris deciphered the script without the help of a bilingual document. 5 Evans Robin. ‘When the Vanishing-Point Disappears” AA Files 23 (1992): 5. 6 Claremont Claude A. ‘Perspective Drawing Without Vanishing Points: A New Technique’ The Architectural Association Journal February (1946): 50. 7 Ventris Michael. ‘Co-Ordinate Perspective’ The Architectural Association Journal April (1946): 67. 8 Ventris Michael. ‘Co-Ordinate Perspective’ The Architectural Association Journal April (1946): 67. 9 Robinson Andrew. The Man Who Deciphered Linear B: the story of Michael Ventris (London: Thames and Hudson, 2002), 51–52.



Order these titles online at where a selection of new books, special offers and some backlist titles is available.

Books available from the AA Bookshop on research as architecture

Histories of the Immediate Present. Inventing Architectural Modernism Anthony Vidler Foreword by Peter Eisenman Massachusetts 2008, 13.5 x 20.5cm, four illustrations, 239pp. Paperback. Architecture, at least since the beginning of the twentieth century, has suspended historical references in favour of universalized abstraction. In Histories of the Immediate Present, Anthony Vidler examines the work of four historians of architectural modernism and the ways in which their histories were constructed as more or less overt programs for the theory and practice of design in a contemporary context: Emil Kaufmann, Colin Rowe, Reyner Banham, and Manfredo Tafuri. The investigation demonstrates the inevitable collusion between history and design that pervades all modern architectural discourse—and has given rise to some of the most interesting architectural experiments of the postwar period.

Reading Architecture and Culture. Researching Buildings, Spaces and Documents Edited by Adam Sharr London 2012, 24.6 x 17.4cm, illustrated, 272pp. Paperback. Architecture displays the values involved in its inhabitation, construction, procurement and design. Buildings, their details, and the documents used to make them, can be read closely for cultural insights. Introducing the idea of reading buildings as cultural artefacts, this book presents perceptive readings by eminent writers which demonstrate the power of this approach. They range in time from the fifteenth century — examining the only surviving drawing made by Leon Battista Alberti — to the recent past . Taken together, these essays demonstrate important research methods which yield powerful insights for designers, critics and historians, and lessons for students.



Fact and Fiction is the final volume of a trilogy seeking to document the work, events and spirit in and around AA Diploma Unit Three, run by Pascal Schöning from 1993 to 2008 and its experimental project: Cinematic Architecture.While the previous two volumes, Manifesto for a Cinematic Architecture and Cinematic Architecture set the theoretical framework and record the development of the Unit’s work, Fact and Fiction contains screenshots and the transcript of a round-table discussion about Cinematic Architecture – a 2012 event designed by Rubens Azevedo and Julian Löffler, which was a cinematic architectural proposal in its own right. The book concludes with a text written by Pascal Schöning himself.

O-14: Projection and Reception Reiser + Umemoto With essays by Jesse Reiser, Brett Steele, Jeffrey Kipnis, Sylvia Lavin and Sanford Kwinter 288 pp, extensive col. & b/w ills 245 x 190 mm, hardcover November 2012 978-1-907896-08-8 £40 Recent architecture copes with new social and cultural complexities demanding networked systems that are time-based, reconfigurable and evolutionary, as well as corresponding models of urbanism defined as adaptive ecology. Against this backdrop the AA’s graduate Design Research Lab (DRL) has focused its studio agenda on alternative models of housing by looking towards designing systems that seek higher, ordered goals, which emerge through intimate correlations of material and computational interaction. This book presents the results of DRL’s research while constructing a generative view of space and structure, and exploring behaviourbased models of living through patterns found in nature.

For further information on AA Publications or to order, visit

Fact and Fiction Edited by Rubens Azevedo and Julian Löffler With an afterword by Pascal Schöning 80 pp, col. & b/w ills 180 x 180 mm, paperback January 2013 978-1-907896-27-9 c £15



Bedford Press is an imprint of AA Publications

Ahali: An Anthology for Setting a Setting Can Altay 160 pp, 210 x 148 mm, paperback January 2013 978-1-907414-26-8 £ TBC Ahali: An Anthology for Setting a Setting is a collection of selected articles from current and previous contributions to Ahali, a journal by artist Can Altay. ‘Ahali’ in Turkish refers to a community defined through contingency without a defined or expressed commonality other than being together. The contents of each issue of the journal are comprised of invited contributions. Titles include: Support, Control, and Letting Go; Modelmaking for the Socio-spatio-economico-political / On Propositions and Implementation; Co-habitation and Parasitical Practice; Locatedness (and Education?); Recycling and Reconfiguration / Sustainable Excess; Community and Contingency; Forecasting Broken Pasts; and Becoming Globe. Contributors include Binna Choi, Jason Coburn, Celine Condorelli, Claire Doherty, Chris Evans, Luca Frei, Nils Norman, Paul O’Neill, Mike Nelson and others.

Contestations: Learning From Critical Experiments in Education Edited by Tim Ivison & Tom Vandeputte With contributions by Sean Dockray, Ultra-red, Nils Norman, Franco Berardi, Gregory Sholette, Jakob Jakobsen, and Bernard Stiegler 190 x 115 mm, paperback March 2013 978-1-907414-23-7 £ TBC Contestations brings together a range of artists, theorists, and other practitioners to consider the state of education and learning in light of political struggle, institutional crisis and new media platforms. Focusing on creative experiments in education, Contestations seeks to instigate a conversation about the future direction of education, challenging existing academic models while examining possibilities for strategic intervention and self-organisation.



Of the recent student interventions around the school, none has specifically managed to interfere with the library. This is about to change with the introduction of the ‘curated bookshelf.’ The motivation for these shelves comes from a disappointment with this year’s History and Theory Studies, in which history seems endlessly to be rewritten through the same continental philosophers, the same modes, aliases and references. Lazy bibliographies slavishly dictate the study of a discourse that lacks any plausible credibility. As students of architecture we need to understand that there is a wealth of discourse on contemporary conditions, but there is a tendency to read these texts with no understanding of their position as they appear in space. In a way every current text about capitalism, politics or the economy is deeply rooted in space, and we need to understand the potential of these texts for us to to operate in this space. Design comes with the possibility to intersect different spectres of the organisation of life, and the way we communicate, produce and design a book – even if it now seems on the brink of disappearance – plays a relevant part. Each bookshelf curator will choose between four and nine books and write an accompanying five pages to explain the selection. If the texts he or she likes are not explicitly architectural they will be reedited freely by inserting images within the book. The only thing required is to establish a

Still from ‘Caché,’written and directed by Michael Haneke.

connection between a particular contemporary discourse and contemporary space. When the allotted one month time period for each shelf comes to a close, its contents will be documented to form a compiled body of architectural knowledge at the end.

All current students are welcome to make suggestions for future curated shelves; please email to find out more.

Luigi Alberto Cippini, a fifth year student in Diploma Unit 4, announces a new student-led initiative in the school library to start in 2013.


JOHN WINTER, 1930–2012 Hugh Pearman recollects some the great achievements of the late JohnWinter, architect, writer, educator and longtime contributor to the AA.

John Winter, who died in November at the age of 82, was an instigator of English high-tech who trained, taught and built at the AA. He was an architect and critic who understood how buildings are made. First apprenticed to Norfolk arts-and-crafts architect Theo Scott, he came to the AA aged 20 in 1950 to complete his training, and was taught by Arthur Korn among others. His fellow students included his lifelong friend Denise Scott-Brown, with whom he later worked in Ernö Goldfinger’s office. After the AA it was onto the National Service with the Royal Engineers, where he built much – including a completely new town in Cyprus –using fast-track prefabrication techniques. Then Goldfinger advised him to go to America and ‘learn about pipes’. Winter duly went to Yale and learned at the feet of Josef Albers and Louis Kahn, after which he and his wife Valerie zigzagged across the continent in an old Studebaker to San Francisco, finding work in the offices of both SOM and the Eamses.

By the time he returned to London he had acquired an American confidence in how to build, and thus set about self-building his own first house in Camden with friends, using materials reclaimed from demolition sites. Later, in 1967, came his own famous second house in Highgate, clad in Cor-Ten oxidising steel. Today it is Grade II* listed. Between 1960 to 1964 Winter taught the likes of Michael Hopkins, Nicholas Grimshaw, Jeremy Dixon and Ed Jones at the AA, while also building the Back Members’ Room and terrace. In his own practice he became known both for one-off houses and for social housing including a complete estate in Milton Keynes. But his portfolio also includes two phases of buildings for Morley College near Waterloo – principal Barry Till chose him over Norman Foster – industrial buildings and in 1990 a City-fringe office block in Mansell Street, in collaboration with Elana Keats and his young assistant Jonathan Ellis-Miller. In the last phase of his career he developed an expertise in restoring classic-era modern buildings including Lubetkin’s High Point. Self-deprecating and witty – read the crackling interview with him by Adrian Forty and Thomas Weaver in AA Files 63, to which this obituary is indebted – Winter professed no manifesto, no theory beyond straightforward functionalism. This was a man who understood the very bones of architecture, and how hard it can be. ‘To build a really good house would be very satisfying,’ he said in 2011. ‘It’s just that nobody has done it yet.’


NEWS PUBLISHED & EXHIBITED John Melvin (former AA Councillor & AA Dipl 1963) held an exhibition on his experiences during the Sargant Fellow residency at the British School at Rome (1996) and as artist in residence at Herculaneum (2005). The exhibition was held in the Italian Hill Town of Potenza Picena 24–30 September 2012. Lucy Bullivant (AA Visiting Lecturer) has published two new books in 2012, Masterplanning Futures (Routledge) and New Arcadians: Emerging UK Architects (Merrell). In July she became a Member of the Quality Review Panel of the London Legacy Development Corporation and of the Scientific and Steering Committee of the Institut pour la Ville en Mouvement PSA Peugeot Citroen, Paris. She presented a paper on adaptive planning at ‘Territorial Encounters’, the 2nd Future Cities Lab conference at ETH Zurich. On 14 November, she lectured at the Scale seminar staged by UN Studio at THNK Amsterdam along with Ben Van Berkel (AADipl(Hons) 1987), Caroline Bos (former AA Consultant) and Ole Bouman (AA Visiting Lecturer). Bluecity, the practice of Johny Duarte (AA H&U MA 2000), has had two projects selected for the Colombian Architecture Biennale 2012. In collaboration with architect Carlos Campuzano, the first project is the San Norberto Chapel in Bogotá, completed in June 2012. The second project is the Caudal Housing units in Villavicencio, produced in collaboration with architect Mauricio Rojas. Patricia Mato Mora (AA Year Out Student and recent editor of AArchitecture) designed and built a wooden pavilion alongside Parasite Ceramics in Woburn Square Gardens, where workshops took place as part of the Bloomsbury Festival (20–21 October 2012). Following the presentation of his design research paper ‘Exploring Principles of Plectic Architecture to activate Urban Voids’ at the 9th AHRA Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland (Robert Gordon University, 19–20 May 2012), Sushant Verma’s (AA EmTech MArch student) paper has been shortlisted for

publication in the forthcoming book Changing Principles and Praxis in Urban Research (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, London). Meggie Kelley (AA H&CT MA 2011) has published her MA thesis ‘Dark Alcoves, Hidden Niches and Cozy Corners’ with the support of Oso Press in Los Angeles. Lawrence Lek (AADipl 2008) is current Designer in Residence at the Design Museum. Working from 05 Sep 2012 to 13 Jan 2013 Lawrence has created bent-plywood modules which combine to form objects and environments including a pavilion and a chair. 2012/designers-in-residence-2012 CyberGardening the City directed by Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto (both AA E&E MA 2002, former AA Unit Masters and current AA Visiting School Milan Directors) has been recently featured in DOMUS. Young’s (AA Dip 6 Unit Master) project Under Tomorrow’s Sky opened as part of Dutch Design week in Eindhoven on 22 October. Liam Young assembled a think tank of scientists, technologists, futurists, illustrators and science fiction authors to collectively develop an imaginary future city, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains. GroundLab, a practice including AA LU tutors Alfredo Ramirez (AA LU MA 2005), Eva Castro (AA DRL GradDiplDes 1995) and Eduardo Rico (AA LU MA 2003) were invited to participate in the Global Design NYU Symposium at the Building Center on 19 October 2012 and the exhibition there from 20 September to 20 October 2012. Pavan Birdi (AA Dip 17 student), Rebecca Spencer (AA Dip 16 student and former AA Councillor), Jin Ho Kim (AADipl 2012), Kengo Skorick (AADipl 2009) and Mickey Kloihofer (AADipl 2010) also presented at the Global Design NYU exhibition on the theme of climatic adaptation and the sustainable future of cities.

Valeria Guzman Verri (AA H&T MA 2005 and AA PhD 2010), Jaime Sol Robles (AADipl 2010), María Sáenz Naranjo (AA H&U MA(Dist) 2009), Carlos Umana Gambassi (AA LU MA 2010) and Diego van der Laat Alfaro (AADipl 2006) were published in revistArquis, a biannual electronic journal curated by the School of Architecture at the University of Costa Rica. revistArquis/issue/view/4/showToc Bedford Press presented two new titles at New York Art Book Fair, 27–30 September 2012: Public Occasion Agency 1–22, edited by Scrap Marshall (AADipl 2012) & Jan Nauta (AADipl 2011) and FM-Scenario, Where Palms Stand – Mask – Delay, edited by Joerg Franzbecker & Herbert Kapfer. 

LECTURES & SYMPOSIA Immanuel Koh (AA DRL MArch 2012 and current Media Studies Tutor) took part in the annual Digital Design Conference in China (24–30 August 2012) as an international keynote speaker. Hosted at the Harbin Institute of Technology under the theme of ‘Simulation, Coding and Collaborative Design’, other guest speakers included Dennis Sheldon (MIT, Gehry Technologies) and Ali Malkawi (University of Pennsylvania). Three AA DRL graduates from 2000, Nate Kolbe (former AA Unit Master), Lida Charsouli and Djordje Stojanovic have taken part in the 7th Greek Biennale for Young Architects at the Benaki Museum in Athens, 22 November 2012 – 13 January 2013. Iosif Dakoronias-Marina (AA D&M MArch student) and Michalis Stoupakis’ project was presented on 27 October at the KnowInG Congress and Knowledge Fair in the city of Lavrion, Greece. The project deals with the re-use of the arsenic production complex in the Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park and the design of a digital media centre as part of a creative district. At the 32nd ACADIA Conference held in San Francisco 18–21 October 2012, Achim Menges (AADipl(Hons) 2002 and former EmTech Course Master) gave one of the keynote lectures entitled


‘Material Computation’. Menges also presented a paper ‘Functionally Graded Aggregate Structures: Digital Additive Manufacturing with Designed Granulates‘ alongside Karola Dierichs (AADipl 1999, LU MA 2005 & EmTech MArch(Dist) 2009). Also presenting at the conference were AA EmTech graduates Darrick Borowski (MArch 2012), Nicoletta Poulimeni (MSc 2011) and Jeroen Janssen (MArch(Dist) 2012) whose peer-review paper ‘Edible Infrastructures: Emergent Organizational Patterns For a Productive City’ summarising the research will be published shortly. Alex Warnock-Smith (AADipl 2006 and current H&U Course Master) delivered a talk at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brasilia, 9 November 2012 entitled ‘Mobilising the Metropolis: new approaches for fighting corruption in the context of rapid urbanisation’. Pascal Schöning (former AA Unit Master & HonAADipl 2009) hosted a screening of the film ‘The Limits of Control’ at RIBA on 15 November 2012. As part of a series of film nights by RIBA & Disegno, they invited leading names from architecture, design and fashion to present a film that has been an inspiration in their work. Other participants include fashion designer Antonio Berardi, design studio El Ultimo Grito and the co-founder of Urban-Thinktank, Alfredo Brillembourg. Elif Erdine (AA DRL MArch 2006, current AA PhD in Design student and AA DLAB Director) and Alexandros Kallegias (AA DRL MArch 2011) presented their work at ScalelessSeamless International Symposium on Integrated Planning Processes at the Munster School of Architecture 15–17 November 2012. Elif Erdine presented her PhD thesis entitled ‘Generative Approaches in Tower Design: Algorithms for the Integration of Tower Subsystems’. Alexandros Kallegias, talked about his work with AA Athens, AA Istanbul and DLAB Visiting Schools. Tony Fretton (AADipl 1972 and former AA Unit Master) spoke at ‘Common grounds refound(ed): European Architectures from Flanders’ on 22 September 2012, a symposium about presenting a variety of voices and experiences from Flanders in London.

CAREERS & PRIZES The 2012 RIBA Bronze Medal (for best undergraduate design project) has been won by AA Inter 7’s Vidhya Pushpanathan (now on Year Out) with her project ‘The Depository of Forgotten Monuments’. Vidhya also won the Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing (Part 1). Stephen Marshall (AADipl 2012) received a Dissertation Medal Commendation for his thesis ‘Here isn’t now – Ballard, Silvertown and the forces of time’. Louis Gadd (AA Dipl 2007) has founded the practice Project 12 Architecture, with his partner Aimee Goodwin, after recently relocating to Melbourne. They established the firm at the end of 2011 and are currently woking on a range of residential projects. The pair also teach on the Masters of Architecture programme at the University of Melbourne. Sean Seung Hyun Yuh (AA Dip 16 student) has won 2nd prize in an international competition for a new public library in Daegu. daegu-gosan-public-library-secondprize-winning-proposal-studio-sh The design project ‘Vertical Ground’, by Georgios Kontalonis, Jared Ramsdell, Nassim Eshaghi & Rana Zureikat (all AA DRL MArch 2012) received an honorary mention in the eVolo 2012 Skyscraper Competition 2012 and was featured in the eVolo Journal. vertical-ground/ Ariel Genadt (AA H&T MA 2004) has been awarded the Summer Fellowship of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. As guest of the Kengo Kuma Lab at Tokyo University, he led a design & build workshop, collaborating with engineer / professor Jun Sato. The fellowship has rarely been awarded to architects, as its primary purpose is to support scientific research. David Mutal’s (AADipl 1997) practice David Mutal Arquitectos was recently awarded two prizes at the Peruvian Architecture Biennale: third national prize in the houses category for Casa SM in Lima, and first prize in the small buildings category for the Mariscal Castilla residential building. His practice also recently featured in Peru’s first ever pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2012, as part of a group show in which 20 architectural offices developed plans for a new city in the north of the country.

Douglas Spencer (AA LU & H&CT Tutor) was conferred his Doctorate in Architectural History and Theory at the University of Westminster on 26 November 2012. Examined by Anthony Vidler and Matthew Charles, his thesis ‘Smooth Operators: Architectural Deleuzism in Societies of Control’ is a critique of the role of contemporary architecture in shaping social subjects through and for new modes of governmentality, whilst claiming, through its appropriations of Deleuze, complexity theory and the ‘new materialism’, a progressive and liberatory character to its projects. Benjamin Reynolds (AADipl(Hons) 2012) has been awarded the Gold Prize in the 2012 Orientation architecture competition, organised by the National Taipei University of Technology in Taiwan. Reynolds’ work explores the physical organisation and thermal behaviour of a gigantic data centre located in Palm Springs, California. Michael Weinstock (AA EmTech Programme Director) has been appointed the Honorary Chief Academic Advisor to the new International Research Centre of Computational Design at Tsinghua University (THAD) Beijing in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong (DoA-HK). Kasang Kajang (AA Dipl 2012) was shortlisted for the London FX International Interior Design Awards2012 from over 2000 entries in the ‘Best Interior design category for Bars and Restaurants’. Working with the practice Travis Walton Architecture, the project ‘Pretty Please Nightclub’ located in St Kilda, Melbourne, also received a commendation at the Australian Interior Design Awards 2012 and won the 2012 Australian ‘Eat-Drink-Design Award’ for best bar. David Adjaye (former AA Councillor & former Unit Master) was named the ‘UK’s Most Influential Black Person’ in October 2012 by the sixth annual PowerList. Adjaye is the first creative professional to be awarded the number one spot, given to professionals regarded as role models in their field. david-adjaye-tops-list-of-uks-mostinfluential-black-people Nannette Jackowski and Ricardo de Ostos (AA Inter 3 Unit Masters) have been nominated for the 2012 Iakov Chernikhov prize for young architects around the world.


Christopher Lee (AADipl(Hons) 1998 and former AA Projective Cities Programme Director) was conferred the Doctorate Degree in Architecture and Urbanism by the Berlage Institute and TU Delft on 26 October 2012. Nigel Coates (AADipl 1974 and former AA Unit Master) was awarded the 2012 RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Architectural Education on 6 November 2012. Zaha Hadid (AADipl 1977 and former Unit Master) was made a Dame in last year’s annual Queen’s Birthday honours list on 16 June 2012. Former AA tutors Olaf Kneer (AADipl 1993) and Marianne Mueller (AADipl 1995) of Casper Mueller Kneer Architects continue to pick up awards for their White Cube Bermondsey project (featured in AA Members visits March 2012), most recently winning the 2012 AJ Retrofit Award for Cultural Buildings. Other projects honoured by Retrofit this year included The Holburne Museum by Eric Parry Architects, headed by Eric Parry (AADipl 1979 and AA Past President), which won the award for Museums & Galleries and the overall Retrofit Building of The Year award, and projects by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (Simon Allford former AA Vice-President, Paul Monaghan GradDiplCons(AA) 1989) and Jestico & Whiles (John Whiles AADipl 1973).

for their work in East London, and Stanton Williams who was awarded the prize for Sports & Entertainment Architect of the Year, all practices headed by AA graduates. Other practices with close AA links that were shortlisted for the awards included Architype, Jestico & Whiles, GroundLab, Serie Architects, CZWG, Keith Williams Architects, Studio Egret West, Donald Insall Associates, Pringle Richards Sherrat Ltd and David Morley Architects. The shortlist for the 2012 Young Architect of The Year Award included vPPR Architects – Tatiana Van Preussen (AA Inter 7 Unit Master), Catherine Pease (AA Dipl 2007) – and Hayhurst and Co – Nick Hayhurst (AA Dipl 2004), Jonathan Nichols (AA Dipl 2003) – who received a Special Commendation.  

OBITUARIES Mark Hayduk, who studied at the AA under Peter Salter graduating in 1991, died in November 2012 at the age of 53 following a short battle with cancer. Mark was a much-loved tutor at the University of East London’s School of Architecture, where he co-ordinated the degree course and led the celebrated Diploma Unit 3. Peter Salter remarks: “Mark’s student work developed a poetic from a technical reading of site conditions and he was fantastic at communicating that sensibility to his own students.” A service and reception will be held in the New Year.

The work of Stanton Williams has featured in every major award list this year. The practice founded by Alan Stanton (AADipl(Hons) 1967, former AA Tutor and former Vice-President of the AA) and Paul Williams, who lectured on recent projects at the AA on 20 November 2012, has not only won the 2012 Stirling Prize for their Sainsbury Laboratory building at the University of Cambridge Botanic Gardens, but has picked up numerous awards for their Central Saint Martins UAL building at King’s Cross, which AA Members visited on a guided tour last Spring, the Hackney Marshes Centre and Eton Manor in the Olympic Park.

The legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who was awarded an Honorary AA Diploma in 1997 for his invaluable and inimitable contribution to the world, died on 6 December 2012.

The 9th Annual Architect of the Year Awards held in London on 4 December 2012 featured many familiar faces. Alison Brooks (former AA Unit Master) was awarded the top Architect of the Year/ Schueco Gold prize. Awards were also won by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris for their Dagenham Park Church of England secondary school, Adams & Sutherland

Life-Member of the AA Harold Peter Scher died after a sudden illness aged 79 on 17 October 2012. Scher worked extensively in the Health sector throughout his career, as a journalist for International Union of Architects Public Health Group and Hospital Design, as an advisor for hospitals including North Tyneside General Hospital and The

Malaysian architect Professor Dato’ Ruslan Khalid (AADipl 1968) passed away on 11 November 2012. Khalid was involved with the Archigram group during the 1960s and taught both at the AA and Portsmouth University 1973–8. He relocated to Kuala Lumpar in 1980, where he founded the School of Architecture at the University Putra Malaysia in 1998 and ran an influential and celebrated architectural practice.

London Clinic, and raising the profile of Arts in Hospitals. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to healthcare design in 2010. The influential Portuguese architect and professor Manuel Tainha died in Lisbon aged 90 on 18 June 2012. Tahina, who managed to combine a prolific architectural career with a life-long devotion to teaching, was Member of the AA since 1959 and became a Life Member in 2007. Recent Secretary of State for Culture in Portugal, Francisco José Viegas, lamented the death of an architect who was ‘arguably one of the greatest masters of Portuguese architecture.’ It is with great sadness that the AA reports the death of Honorary AA Member John Winter MBE (AADipl 1953), who died in November 2012. A constant friend of the AA, John studied at the school from 1950–53, teaching here from 1960–64 and acting as ‘house’ architect responsible for many alterations and extensions, including what was initially intended as a ‘temporary’ back extension to the AA bar and terrace. He inspired a generation of students and made valuable contributions as a member of Council, Honorary Secretary and since 1991 Trustee of the AA Foundation. A memorial event will be held at the AA in the new year. (see also Hugh Pearman’s obituary, page 45). We regret to announce the death of Alan Colquhoun, whose relationship with the AA spanned eight decades as a graduate, teacher, former council member and, since 2011, honorary member of the AA. As a key member of that golden postwar generation of British architectural historians, Alan had an immeasurable influence on architectural culture. A critic never afraid to criticise, and a teacher who only required the slightest spark in order to engage in illuminating and sustained discussion, he was someone whose generosity of spirit and commitment to a world of ideas will be hugely missed. Alan passed away 13 December 2012. AA Alumnus and Life Member Aalon Aaron Lee (AADipl 1957) passed away in San Jose, California on 6 June 2012 aged 81. Architect Geoffrey Matthews (AADipl 1958) died aged 80 at his home in Portugal. John Seymour Scott (AADipl 1937 and Life Member since 2008) died peacefully in the West Midlands aged 98. AA graduate Samuel A Rathouse, former director of MR Partnership, and Life Member Selwyn V Wyatt (AADipl 1950) have also sadly passed away.






The AA Membership Office is organising a daytrip to Paris to visit Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre, on a tour led by architect and architectural historian Mary Johnson. Further details of additional architectural visits for this trip to be confirmed. Price £240 for Members, £220 for students Includes early Eurostar train from London to Paris, entry to the Maison de Verre plus additional tours/visits TBC, Paris travel pass, and evening meal before late return to London. For more information go to


THE KITCHEN GARDEN LONG-TERM SUSTAINABLE GROWTH PROJECT LAUNCHED BY THE STUDENT FORUM. SPRING – SUMMER 2013 Student Forum will start an urban growth project called The Kitchen Garden this spring on the AA premises. The project proposes the creation of a small garden on the roof of one of the AA’s buildings that will produce vegetables for the school’s restaurant and bar. The Kitchen Garden will be constructed with timber from the workshop’s scrap. The project will begin to question what we consume and how we deal with our waste.

We will seek to encourage students to collaborate on several workshops and lectures. With student involvement, we will connect with other plant and vegetablegrowing workshops around London. Furthermore, we will invite specialists for lectures to share their take on sustainability. Most importantly, the garden will be used as the setting for fun events to promote the project and get more community involvement.

The Urban growth project is hoping to gather a greater involvement of the student body to help maintain the garden during spring and summer when the season of production is at its highest. We would like to bring students together to participate in the processes of production and cultivation.

In the spirit of The Kitchen Garden, we welcome projects which deal with sustainability and architecture. Therefore, we will collaborate with the Community Cluster and the MArch Design and Make programme, which are currently developing a self-sustaining productive landscape at Hooke Park.

In parallel to the construction of the garden, there will be an initiative to start a focus group that would open up discussion about environmental issues. The aim is to spread awareness about environmental sustainability around the AA.

With the hope of forming an environmental community within the AA, the Student Forum would like to take this opportunity to demonstrate that ecological environments can be built with total consideration and intelligence.




The AA Membership Office is organising a daytrip to Paris to visit Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre, on a tour led by architect and architectural historian Mary Johnson. Further details of additional architectural visits for this trip to be confirmed.

Price £240 for Members, £220 for students Includes early Eurostar train from London to Paris, entry to the Maison de Verre plus additional tours/visits TBC, Paris travel pass, and evening meal before late return to London. For more information go to

AArchitecture 18  

AArchitecture 18

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