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THIS ISSUE CONTINUES TO TRACK THE PROGRESS OF A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF THE school BY FOCUSING ON ‘STUFF’ IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH WHAT COMES AFTER ‘RESEARCH’ – THE TOPIC EXAMINED IN THE LAST ISSUE. We continue to reflect on AA life from as many differing viewpoints as possible, with tutors, students, members and graduates often proposing as many new questions about the ‘stuff’ of the school as they do answers. Included in that focus are stark contrasts between Diploma units – from Shin Egashira’s teaching philosophy in Unit 11 offering a different perspective to the wide spectrum of production in Liam Young and Kate Davies’ Unknown Fields division, Diploma 6. Meanwhile, a kaleidoscopic photo essay and commentary showcase the helmets of Intermediate 11’s Ibiza-based unit. AND THIRD YEAR STUDENT Juliet Haysom deals with the shoddy, highly telling photography of eBay’s market stall holders as part of her work in Intermediate Unit 5. Stuff, a word that has enjoyed frequent appearances in Peter Cook’s lectures at the school over many years, took on a different meaning for him ALTOGETHER WHEN

19

news from the architectural association

AArchitecture


AArchitecture 19 / Term 2 2012/13 www.aaschool.ac.uk 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 aarchitecture@aaschool.ac.uk Student Editorial Team Eleanor Dodman (Fourth Year) Radu Remus Macovei (Third Year) Roland Shaw (Fourth Year) Editorial Board Alex Lorente, Membership Brett Steele, AA School Director Zak Kyes, AA Art Director 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 Cover: Wax rubbing of coal hole cover outside 33 Bedford Square by Mark Simmonds, London, May 2013, www.marksimmonds.info


THIS ISSUE CONTINUES TO TRACK THE PROGRESS OF A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF THE school BY FOCUSING ON ‘STUFF’ IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH WHAT COMES AFTER ‘RESEARCH’ – THE TOPIC EXAMINED IN THE LAST ISSUE. We continue to reflect on AA life from as many differing viewpoints as possible, with tutors, students, members and graduates often proposing as many new questions about the ‘stuff’ of the school as they do answers. Included in that focus are stark contrasts between Diploma units – from Shin Egashira’s teaching philosophy in Unit 11 offering a different perspective to the wide spectrum of production in Liam Young and Kate Davies’ Unknown Fields division, Diploma 6. Meanwhile, a kaleidoscopic photo essay and commentary showcase the helmets of Intermediate 11’s Ibiza-based unit. AND THIRD YEAR STUDENT Juliet Haysom deals with the shoddy, highly telling photography of eBay’s market stall holders as part of her work in Intermediate Unit 5. Stuff, a word that has enjoyed frequent appearances in Peter Cook’s lectures at the school over many years, took on a different meaning for him ALTOGETHER WHEN

19

news from the architectural association

AArchitecture


he started to build his projects. His lively commentary about his own recent progress in architecture expands upon the views of tutors and students. Happily, it seems impossible to come to an agreed definition of this issue’s theme of stuff, and so we are pleased to demonstrate, with AArchitecure 19, that the possibilities of production at the AA continue to expand, grow and diversify, in no small way owing to their own detailed unknowability. student Editors: Eleanor Dodman Radu Remus Macovei Roland Shaw


contents 2 SYSTEMS, STORIES and the STUFF INBETWEEN 3 The unit space as model city 4 Blueprints for the future 6 SPACE HELMETS 9 A collection of things found on a detouR 12 Steele on Stuff 14 Architecture as Exhibition Space 16 stuff 18 the exhibition as a project 20 Artists’ Talks at the AA 23 Meta-Realities 24 A visit to the Archive AA CONVERSATIONS 25 Introduction to Fabrication of Kaleidoscopes 26 Too much is never enough! 28 Let’s get Stuffed! 30 ‘We Have a Lot of Stuff in the Photo Library’ 34 eBay Still LiFes 36 The internet is stuff 38 membership events 40 Remembering Alan Colquhoun, the friend 41 recommended reading 42 New from aa publicationS 44 new from BEdford Press 46 News next issue’s theme school announcement Student announcement


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SYSTEMS, STORIES and the STUFF INBETWEEN

Cities like London are networked objects that condition and are conditioned by distant landscapes. Those landscapes – the iconic and the ignored, the excavated, irradiated and the pristine – are embedded in global systems that connect them in surprising and complicated ways to our everyday lives. Each year the Unknown Fields Division navigates a different global trajectory, setting out on expeditions through alien landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness to bear witness to alternative worlds. We do this as a means of understanding our familiar world in new ways. The Division is concerned with complex global systems, supply chains and infrastructure – those elusive tendrils, twisting threadlike over everything around us, crisscrossing the planet, connecting the mundane to the extraordinary. Our physical environment is shaped by this stuff, buffeted by economic winds, stitched and stretched into place through global demand. We view infrastructure as a series of interwoven narratives, a network of hidden stories that connect us to each other, and to remote locations. Stories are a useful connective tissue with which to make sense of messy and complex systems. Through storytelling we can relate to some of this complexity in meaningful ways, chronicling existing conditions and constructing a series of parallel narratives and partial fabrications. We use speculative scenarios as critical instruments for exploring the consequences of emerging conditions, often deploying time-based media – film, animation, gaming – to articulate dynamic spaces, ebbs and flows, cycles and shifts.

The Division is interested in the spaces between things. Here architectural interventions can exist between a logic board in a supercomputer and the frozen Arctic Ocean it is modelling, or in the millisecond time-lag of a stock market trade. They can exist between your gold-plated headphone jack and a hole in the Australian Outback two miles wide, between where a satellite thinks you are and where you really are. They can exist in the 60-second warning before an earthquake in Mexico City or along the 30,000-mile journey your pair of Levis 501 takes before you get to wear them. In this way projects emerge as a constellation of stories and strategies, fragments and fables that stitch together dislocated places, unravelling complicated systems and interrogating contemporary relationships between culture, technology and nature.

For more information on Unknown Fields Division, please visit www.unknownfieldsdivision.com

Kate Davies and Liam Young, unit masters from Diploma Unit 6, explain the unit’s work through networks and narratives.


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The unit space as model city

For more information on Diploma Unit 11 please visit www.aaschool.ac.uk/study/dip11

Shin Egashira, unit master of Diploma Unit 11, describes his approach through the accumulation of models in his unit space.

The first people to open the door of Dip 11’s Unit space are cleaners who come around at 7am every morning. The challenge for them is that they have to guess what to leave and what to trash. Somehow, their guess is always right. There are different cycles. For instance objects that come and go weekly and daily are usually on the table and floor. Monthly objects usually reside on the wall and side table. Ours is a space for both the accumulation and production of objects, tools and architectural things, which are produced yearly with different teams of students and briefs. The academic year usually starts with the making and unmaking of collage cities. The aim is partly to recycle leftover pieces of models from previous years, giving new concepts by re-organising them within a set of new contexts. A new London emerges from the clusters of old objects in the unit space every year. There are 32 building models today as I counted. About half of them are designs in progress from current students. Some of the models are incomplete as they are dissected through acts of design explorations or destroyed or improved by partial removals. There are more than 150 detail fragments and over 600 pieces of material samples. There is a taxonomy of material studies. There are pieces as old as eight years surviving on our shelf, which have been parts of several different models in the past.

What if we draw an analogy to the notion of ‘Transitional Object’ used in child psychology? A series of comfort objects that not only babies and toddlers but also grown-ups use and leave behind them as they help us make associations between objects and symbolise a bridge between the imaginary and the real that is unknown to collective. Mark Cousins suggests that when toddlers discharge by themselves for the first time, they consider their smelly shit as the most fascinating piece of artwork. I am not at all suggesting the Dip 11 unit space is full of shit; perhaps it’s analogous to something like an attic of an old house (or a mad house) where ambitious young architects imagine their cities by playing with their toys; reinventing them by cutting, dropping, juxtaposing, piling, adjoining, extruding, drawing and rearranging, playing games selecting and deselecting. Objects that we often end up not throwing away because of their singular values often end up in the attic. Dip 11’s objects fill the gaps between ideas and procedures: zooming in and out, making and looking, representing and designing. The type of model we don’t make is a complete illustration of how the proposals may look. Architectural objects that we end up creating have no name apart from ‘Stuff’. That, perhaps, makes our unit space a model of a city that was never intended to be completed.


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Blueprints for the future

Walking through London it’s easy to forget that a city is just a particular arrangement of stuff. It’s just hundreds of billions of pieces, innumerable objects and things, some static, some in motion, some fixed, others loosely assembled into a Londonshaped super-thing. Cataloguing every object would require noting every building as well as every brick, screw and plank that makes up that building. It would mean counting every chair, plate and book, every shoe and shoelace, every single thing in every supermarket . And most things are assemblages themselves that atomise into countless other things. It’s mind boggling to even imagine a formula we could use to estimate how many centillion things make up London. There’s apparently 170,000kg of man-made stuff we’ve left on the Moon and 300 million pieces of man-made space debris orbiting the earth. Imagine then the number of things accumulated in a city ranged over two millennia and 1,570km2 of administrative area. To this already countless number of things we’re adding more and more, faster and faster. Overwhelmed by the quantity and beauty of its renaissance artefacts, tourists who visit Florence sometimes suffer from Stendhal Syndrome. But if you think too long about the quantities of even the most unremarkable stuff that surrounds us, it too can bring on the same psychosomatic symptoms of rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and hallucinations. And that’s why I’m heading through the giant Doric portals of the British Museum (an institution that itself holds around six

million things – a number not counting, I suppose, inventories of the gift shop, cafes, display cases, pencils, maps, uniforms, and one guesses, a tonne of archaeological and conservation tools). I’m here to try and kick Stuff Syndrome. In an unprepossessing corner of the museum is the oldest object in London: a stone tool found in the bottom layer of deposits in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania where the remains of an early human camp had been preserved. Potassium-argon dates the stone to about 1.8 million years ago. It now lives in a freestanding glass case tucked into the southeast corner of the museum. The stone is held in the middle of its case by a metallic retort stand as through it were floating in space. As we orbit around the stone, metamorphic crystals glint under a grid of lights above. Though the size of a fist, it could well be a gigantic asteroid. And in some ways, though an object of the earth, it comes from another world, a world before objects. It takes a while to perceive the human intervention that transformed it from a geological artefact into a human ‘thing’. But there it is, a craggy sharp ridge running along one side. Formed, they tell us, by flaking chunks off this stone with another. As the edge emerged the stone metamorphosed. First, it became a tool: a thing to slice, dice and shred other matter. But it also conceptually transformed. As flakes of stone were cut away, the idea of a thing emerged. From this moment, or moments very similar in other early human camps, the concept of stuff is handed down to us. All those things out there in London are

For more information on Night School please visit night.aaschool.ac.uk. To hear more from Sam please visit twitter.com/_samjacob

Sam Jacobs, director of AA Night School, discusses the prolific amount of stuff that makes up our cities, and the role that these objects will play in the way we are understood by future generations.


5 The Olduvai stone is from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, and is between 1.8–2 million years old.

distant descendants of this stone thing. Every other thing flows from here, from this originating thing. It seems impossible to imagine a world before objects, to picture life before things began to litter the surface of the earth. All the material substance of the world was, before the idea of things emerged, still arranged by cosmology, geography, climate, chemistry and biology. Unharvested, they were not yet transformed by human imagination into other conceptual states. A tree was just a tree, a rock simply a rock. Even animals and humans were all just what they are – constituent parts of an ecosystem. Perhaps it is objects themselves that leveraged humans out of this circumstance. The invention of things re-drew the relationship between humanity and nature and transformed humans-as-creatures into cultural beings. We might even suggest then that it was objects that made us human just as much as we made them objects; things fashioned as much as we

fashioned them. And if objects make us human, imagine the varieties of humanity that objects could manufacture in us. We leave the hallowed halls of the British Museum with their carefully curated and scholarly inventory. Back in London it seems futile to resist the imperative of stuff. More! Faster! Brighter! Better! A few steps from the museum we find souvenirs, electronics, gift shops stuffed with gifts that no one could possibly want. But the distinction between museum, poundshop, supermarket and the Argos catalogue are in some ways arbitrary. They are all equally significant narratives of humanity. The endless glut of the stuff that surrounds us might be good or bad, useful or not, necessary or ridiculous (and, sure, it is mostly bad, not useless and ridiculous). But these are the things we construct our world and ourselves out of. Encoded within even the cheapest and most frivolous are clues about who we are and blueprints for the future of being human.


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SPACE HELMETS Manuel Collado and Nacho MartĂ­n, unit masters from Intermediate Unit 11, on why their unit produced helmets to recreate an experience of Ibiza.


7 Left: Luca Allievi My project is about the concept of the trip defined by the experience of wind and invisible boundaries. The helmet uses sensorial devices to recreate the experience of my trip to Ibiza. Each wind direction has a different perfume so that the helmet can be a wayfinding device that allows us to smell different areas according to the wind direction.

To see more helmets visit conversations.aaschool.ac.uk

Ground control to Major Tom Ground control to Major Tom Take your protein pills and put your helmet on. – ‘Space Oddity’, David Bowie

When explaining the concept of an island, Gilles Deleuze expresses it as a construct that is defined by the separation from the mainland in order to create or rather re-create an alternative reality. Philosophers also offer us similar images of the space station. The Space helmet, in turn, would be a replica that reduced these images to their minimum. For us, the helmet is a device that allows for the creation of architecture within a different format. It aims to build spaces, worlds and environments using another scale, tectonic system and strategy of locating ourselves within a territory. It expands the conventional properties of architecture by developing three main guidelines:

Ready-to-Wear Architecture Nomadic, lightweight and portable systems, the helmets are constructions of small interiors where the owner shifts between the roles of occupant and wearer. Architecture is an explicit body envelope. Experience The helmets are intimate capsules that extend our perception by combining vision, sound, smell and flavour in a synthesised format. They create a transplanted experience and transport the wearer to any time or place. They are de-territorialisation devices that alter the perception of our environment or developing it elsewhere. Identity The helmet provides an architecture that doesn’t just transform our context but transforms its wearer. They are architectural accessories of self-expression and creation. DJs were the first to recognise their properties of enabling codes, rules and rituals of the user’s choice.

The project, taught alongside Manijeh Verghese, aimed to recreate the context of the island of Ibiza – islands generated from islands. Certain inhabitants of its geography – the so-called expressive expatriates – serve as the perfect subjects for this experiment of spatial and identity mobility.


8 Agata Pilarska My interest is in visual distortion and sound, and how they could be represented in one form. Creating a helmet from layers of perspex (each with a profile of a type of sound wave, stacked together) forms an object with different distortion effects, similar to the technology of a slit scan.


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A collection of things found on a detour AA PhD candidate Gabriela García de Cortázar writes about collections as attempts to capture a moment in time.

For the past two centuries, life has primarily been about things. The nineteenth century inaugurates the ‘age of property’: things fill up novels, paintings and houses, and they demand to be accumulated, catalogued, and exhibited (Brooks, 2005). The clutter helps to define characters, worlds, lives, and, in consequence, things offer themselves as material evidence for the life they hold up. The portrayal of modern life is then an exercise of describing the things that sustain and fill the everyday. Description, however, is evidently not exclusive to the modern novel. Xenophon’s Oeconomicus is roughly about inventorying the contents of Ischomachus’ house, in what has been characterised as one of the most perfect attempts to correctly identify and represent things in space (Purves, 2010). The Oeconomicus is just as much about the training of Ischomachus’s wife in the management of the household as it is about producing a perfect inventory of the house’s contents; in a way, the inventory becomes the plan of the house. This experiment has an even more ancient precedent: the Illiad’s Catalogue of Ships, by suspending the course of narrative, offers an accurate description of ships and geography at the same time. This protocartographic narrative, which Xenophon will take to its limits by writing it down into an inventory, functions as an arrest in time. For example, Joyce’s Ulysses, the paramount modern novel, resonates in many ways with this combination of inventory and suspended time. By limiting the extents of time and space to one city

and one day, the narrative can fully describe the complexities of life, work, love and lust. Most interestingly, however, is the supporting structure of the novel: underneath the story of Bloom’s modern Odyssey lies Joyce’s own collection of things. As the Gilbert and Linati schemata show, it not only holds a pool of writing styles, but also places, moods, words, colours, sciences, arts, parts of the body, and more. For Joyce, writing the Ulysses allowed him to combine the things he wanted to write about, much as Perec would do later in La Vie Mode d’Emploi, or as Cervantes did with his fictions within fictions in El Quijote, much earlier on. This excursus into narrative introduces another collection of things. The research I am currently working on deals, in its own modest way, with things that have been generated by the modern city, in this case nineteenth-century London. The common aspect between them is that they are all devices for orientation: roughly, maps. As the city expands and gets more complex, walking (and other forms of direct experience) can no longer be the only source for the knowledge of the city. In turn, it must rely on a series of devices that complement the insufficient knowledge that bodily experience provides. These devices, which function as a sort of prostheses, are here displayed over an area that extends between two poles. The two poles are perfect acts of knowledge: on one side, perfect acts of representation, where the map is so complete that it doubles life; on the other, perfect acts of orientation, where


10 Opposite: 1. Perfect Acts of Representation 1A Achilles’ Shield 1B Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘On Exactitude in Science’ and ‘The Aleph’ 1C Alain-René Le Sage: Le Diable Boîteux 1D Georges Perec: La Vie Mode d’Emploi 1E James Joyce: Ulysses 2. Detour 1 2A Harry Beck’s Tube map 2B The strip map 3. Detour 2 3A Wonderground tube map 3B George Augustus Sala’s literary tours of London 3C Victorian novels 3D Charles Marville’s photographic record of Paris 4. Detour 3 4A Views from hot-air balloon 4B City panoramas 4C Outlook towers 5. Detour 4 5A The OS maps 5B The A to Z 6. Detour 5 6A Street name systematisation 6B Postcodes 7. Perfect Acts of Knowledge by Experience 7A Eskimos’ maps 7B South Sea navigators’ maps 7C The Knowledge

For more information on the PhD programme please visit phd.aaschool.ac.uk.

experience informs an ideal and complete knowledge of the territory. In their perfection, they belong to a realm of semi-fiction. The stretch amid the two poles is where the objects that constitute the focus of this research are. I won’t enumerate them all, but will mention how they have been organised, within the surface that links the two poles. If the immediate approach to the city is given by experience, by walking in the city (which, as de Certau says cannot be pinned down, as it always happens ‘in the present’), its translation into a trajectory is the first detour. The second one is a translation that adopts tools from narrative, such as description, and ventures into integrating history – an attempt to capture a place through time by looking at its past. A third detour leaves the attempts to capture time-as-history and starts being concerned with capturing places as spaces, only not geometrically yet, but in their superficial, chorographic, appearances. A fourth detour dismisses surfaces and tries to delve into structure, entering the domains of graphically correct accuracy: the proper maps. A fifth detour, which gets closer to the perfect acts of representation, is that where the correction, faithfulness, and accuracy of the territory is adjusted to that of the abstract model. These are the cases where the built is the map, just like Ischomachus’ house. However, these detours and the objects in them are not only casually related to what the initial excursus presents: all of these objects investigate the territory defined by description, the subsequent arrest in time, the ordering of things into catalogues or inventories, and the need to keep records. Maps, as tools that complement an otherwise insufficient knowledge, belong to the same family of things. For example take property records: they all make use of the graphein, a recording tool that can be either writing or drawing. The expansion of (and the amount of things in) the territory to be recorded is what gets out of proportion in the modern city. I would challenge any storyteller to narrate the contemporary landscape of today’s Ulysses.


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Steele on Stuff Brett Steele, director of the AA, discusses the relationship between architects, architecture schools and stuff.

Some architects think architecture is the stuff that matters. It is not; I do not want to talk about architecture. What matters more is the time we find ourselves living in. That’s the only place architecture ever really lives. – Le Corbusier To paraphrase Robin Evans, architects are masters of stuff-making. They dedicate their lives not to just the making of stuff, but to the making of a very particular kind of stuff – the stuff (like models and drawings) that in turn tells other people (like builders or clients) how to make yet other kinds of stuff (like, for example, buildings, spaces or structures). Architects don’t just worship this stuff: they love its very idea; its invention, its messy reality, its heavy, material inevitability. When not otherwise occupied by the making, sorting, presenting and documenting of their stuff, what else do they do? They stay up late writing theories and histories of its making. Which they arrange, compose, publish, thus passing on to future generations (like next year’s AA students) how and why they made the stuff that they did. No wonder it was architects that invented a concept like the ‘room’ – where else to put all the stuff of architectural worlds, all the stuff that fills an architect’s studio? Stuff, after all, needs one thing above all else: Space. And to paraphrase a couple of thousand years of wrestling with the consequence of this reality, a discipline is born. We call it Architecture. It took a philosopher like Wittgenstein to distil this condition to its most reasoned (human) observation, of something architects have long known to be crucial to their world: ‘the stuff of the world weighs upon our minds far more than the other way around’.

Walking through an end-of-year AA unit space, or studio, proves Wittgenstein’s point. Such a tourist usually feels like a vampire visiting a late-night graveyard of discarded architectural labour. By July every year room after room of the AA is filled up with litter, the detritus, the discarded piles of materials recording a hard year’s work, and learning. Forgotten sketches and studies, broken models, wrinkled prints, abandoned binders, water-stained photocopies and books, all the stuff confirming that a building full of architects have been hard at work doing what they do: inventing architecture’s future, through the relentless making of more and more stuff. (To a remarkable extent an architectural school is an institutional form whose primary purpose as a memory structure is to capture, record, redistribute and retain architectural work, thought and life: all the stuff, records of presentations, personalities, discussions that fill its hallways, stairways, unit spaces, lecture halls.) What we now think of as architectural schools were invented for precisely this purpose: for accelerating how new kinds of stuff could be made, making possible new kinds of architectural projects (recall what effect the basement workshops of the Bauhaus had, now nearly a century ago). Alongside schools yet other, new kinds of modern institutions appeared, with weird names like RIBA or MoMA. Their primary purpose remains in place today: the retention of architecture’s most valuable ‘stuff’; now kept safe in libraries, galleries and storage spaces awaiting the use of future generations. Today one of the AA’s (and the last century’s) most original architectural minds lives on in a concrete bunker located deep below the frozen ground of Montreal, at yet another


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For more please visit the directors office website on directorsoffice.aaschool.ac.uk

AA Archive at Tufton Street c 1901

cryogenic architectural repository (called the CCA) where, in a light-, temperatureand humidity-controlled vault Cedric Price’s ideas await their rediscovery in a century far more attuned to his intellect than that of their origin. (PS Regarding the paradoxes of architectural stuff and its conservation, what would Cedric think of Gertrude Stein’s observation that ‘you can be a museum, or you can be modern – but you can’t be both’?) Today the architectural world is living through an explosion of new memory infrastructures over-running nearly all forms of architectural thought and action. Software systems record every click of a mouse while a designer develops an idea. Smartphones record every neglected corner of buildings – architectural photographers are no longer the master recordkeepers. Videos can instantly convert any architectural presentation into a Youtube channel. Back journals once the province of obsessive book collectors are now downloadable as PDFs found on servers in Shanghai. Architectural stuff – that stuff architects produce over the course of a lifetime of mental and manual labour thinking about and working on architecture – will forever matter more than the stuff that results from

their efforts. All buildings, after all, eventually fade away (Cedric nearing the end of his career proudly proclaimed his willingness – his desire even – to see some of his earliest work torn down: ‘past its sell-by date’, he quipped self-knowingly, to any architectural journalist who would listen). However the stuff that results from architects thinking and working and inventing and changing architecture – the ideas, the texts, the books, the drawings, models and everything else – that’s the stuff where architecture really lives, and regularly dies. What’s different about that stuff today is simply how much harder it is to get rid of than ever before (if you don’t believe me, log onto ebay for a tour of the world’s new sorting capacity, or try and do the opposite — try deleting yourself from Google). The stuff architects make (their drawings, models, manifestos, documents, records; their everything) now lives in a world of not only its relentless production or amplified distribution, but its accelerated accumulation as well. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, ‘life is pretty simple: you do some stuff. Most fails, some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing of something else.’


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Architecture as Exhibition Space Melissa Justine Gourley, AA Second Year student, provides a critique of Stefano Boeri’s ‘Pietas: Variations on a Theme’.

Rondanini Pietà, marble sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1564, Courtesy of lauramarchionnidiscourse.blogspot.co.uk


To watch Stefano Boeri’s lecture delivered in February 2013, please follow the link: www.aaschool.ac.uk/video/stefanoboeri2013

15 Are mercy, empathy and reciprocity really necessary to discuss in relation to pietas? Stefano Boeri first defines the reciprocity of pietas as the absolute desire to leave the mark of the ego, which he claims prevails itself through architecture, and as such justifies the move of Michelangelo’s third attempt at the sculpture of the Virgin Mary and her son into a space he argues to share the same reciprocal conditions. La Pietà Rondanini was one of the artist’s last works, which he began around 1552 and worked on until his death in 1564. It has been housed in the Castello Sforzesco since 1954. However, as Milan’s culture commissioner, Boeri, with the city’s government has approved its temporary relocation to the Carcere di San Vittore while the castle undergoes renovations. The political agenda of temporarily moving Michelangelo’s Pietas into the San Vittore panopticon comes with the duty of raising an awareness of the poor living conditions prisoners in Italy face, yet with Boeri placing more emphasis on the exhibition experience of the sculpture than on the politics, need they even be discussed? And further, need La Pietà Rondanini even be discussed? At the end of the day, if it is really just about raising awareness why not just open the prison up to visitors three days a week? Boeri projects a level of value people would be willing to place on going to visit a sculpture within a canonical space as less than going to visit the actual architecture itself. Or perhaps, this is where he is right to argue for the idea of reciprocity in relation to placing a high work of art, into such a monumental prison. Understanding the relationship between moving an artwork into a canonical architectural space becomes of great interest when considering the potential of the architecture to act as exhibition space. Boeri is adamant to describe the achievements of the space in which one of Michelangelo’s last works was first showcased. He gives a glimpse at its future home, yet he is brief in suggesting how the panopticon might work in its favour. Without describing the ritual experience of La Pietà Rondanini in San Vittore’s prison and how visitors will be expected to enter and pass

through (let alone the position of the work within the central space), makes it difficult to understand why it must be this sculpture, that projects reciprocity as an afterthought through which this transition may be justified. Highlighting the importance of the work of studio BPR in the design of its first home within the Castello Sforzesco, where it stood for the past sixty years, Boeri describes how the duality expressed by Michelangelo – through the mother holding her son, and the son carrying his mother – is observed through an experience of the sculpture from various angles. It is here where Boeri’s interest in achieving a fulfilment of reciprocity, not for the visitor, but rather for the prisoners may be understood. However, the argument of the panopticon’s potential in fully realising the meaning of the sculpture is only valid if acknowledged with no less than a critical outcry at its misuse as an instrument to bring visitors to the prison. Although, perhaps one might just consider the prison to be the only applicable space through which the sculpture may be fully deciphered, in a manner similar to how it is indecipherable in its current home. Effectively Boeri shows a video experience of how one stands in relation to La Pietà Rondanini and where its closeness is almost that which disallows it to be fully understood. This lack of clarity of the sculpture would also be achieved in the defined view the prisoners in the various wings would have, and it would use the architectural condition of the panopticon to amplify a similar experience of how the sculpture has, up until now, been displayed; where its power lies in its inability to be fully interpreted. It would only make sense that the sculpture be placed in the Milanese jail, not for reasons of politic, but as the history of its display has shown, La Pietà Rondanini should remain a presence that is hidden. Yet, the question of who fully grasps this experience of reciprocity still remains relevant. Is it enough to argue for the prison as the best exhibition space for such a work of art if it will only be the prisoners who act as gallery visitors? And further, does the prison need to remain open to the public?


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STUFF

In the past 10 years since becoming an architect who builds as well as draws and talks, I have necessarily become more interested in a certain type of stuff: the stuff that our drawings and chit-chat have actually suggested. Three buildings (Berlin, Graz and Madrid) are blue, each in its way shapely and each the subject of endless theorising, if you wish. Yet there the story only just begins: if Berlin is a profile and a pale blue cement render, Graz is a bubbleshape with a glossy illuminated skin that is actually a skin over the real skin, which is welded steel sheet. In Madrid, the paucity of spare cash led to the blue becoming a gravelly and grey-blue cement-andchippings compound that will last and last, but unglamorously. Of course the teacher, writer, pontificator in me can enter the conversation: what, if anything is fundamental to the idea of any of these built objects? Is it the cultural statement, the shape, the number of references, the armatures, the consistency? As a person who was often dismissed by the great unwashed hordes of mainstream architects as a ‘draw-er’ I have been genuinely interested by the question of ‘what is the actual creative moment of a building?’ – the light in the eye of the designer? The brilliance of the brief or an insight into the potential content? The first scribble, or the layering of scribble-overscribble? The creation of a brilliantly succinct plan, section or digitalised 3D setup? Or is the magic moment revealed when the concrete frame starts to sing? Or when the glass panels almost tinkle? In recent years far too many of the clever, clever, clever teachers at the hothouse schools of architecture have inculcated upon their followers that it is

procedure, morality, mathematics, abstracted philosophies, applied philosophies, symbolism, gender and language that are to be the generators of architectural practice. Many of these guys wouldn’t know a pumice stone from a loofah in their bath. Such influences have become so omnipresent that one becomes highly suspicious that they are basically not interested in architecture, much less interested in anything that is a thing, and therefore they are not interested in stuff. Two interpretations of stuff seem to be acceptable points of departure; Either stuff as the presence of the object – as seen with all the characteristics that it might display. Alternatively, it is the character of a piece of material itself – its hairiness, its overtones of a rustic quality, its sophistication or its hand-made nature as opposed to the industrialised product. This is now being thrown up into the front of discussion since solid chunks of stone – far from being tailored by chaps with chisels – are being cut and milled through the direct instruction of a computer programme via a form of robotry. Stuff is due for a creative or generative revival once the robotised sequence becomes as unselfconscious as the process of floating glass. In nineteenth-century England, stucco – which started as a poor substitute for stone – took on its own delight. More recently, there have been moments of sheer delight when clever architects have realised that fretted glass or translucent corian or cutely distributed LEDs play a tantalising game with solid architecture: metaphorically taking the stuffing out of stuff.

In January 2012 Peter Cook delivered a lecture at the AA entitled ‘Stuff and Nonsense for Architecture’. See the lecture online at: www.aaschool.ac.uk/video/petercook2012

Peter Cook, AA graduate, prominent educator and practitioner, questions the progress of architecture around the meaning of Stuff.


17 L端tzowplatz Berlin (1992) (Source: Hongdi Li, Peter Cook Monograph)

Kunsthaus, Graz (2003) (Source: transform-mag.com)


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The Exhibition as a project Graham Baldwin, Fifth Year student from Diploma 14, reviews ‘11 Projects’, a retrospective of Dogma’s work, held in the AA Gallery.

Dogma exhibition Photo Tommaso Franzolini

2 Walls 11 Rectangular Boxes


For more information on the exhibition please visit www.aaschool.ac.uk/exhibitions/dogma

19 Below opposite is a brief description of the objects present in the ‘11 Projects’ exhibition, which opened in late-February this year. The exhibition presented a catalogue of Dogma’s oeuvre and showcased eleven projects produced since 2002. Each one possessed an archetype with a decisive form for confronting the city. The projects on display expanded upon a historical and theoretical framework, providing knowledge for understanding the exhibition as a whole. The programmatic interventions span from large-scale urban planning and infrastructural projects, to spaces of production and housing, and to speculative research projects. To coincide with the exhibition, Dogma co-founder Pier Vittorio Aureli held a lecture on the studio. A book was also produced to accompany the material of the exhibition, and to provide a writing platform for a selection of essays by Pier Vittorio Aureli and Dogma’s other co-founder, Martino Tattara. Brett Steele, and Gabriele Mastrigli also contributed texts. My sober description of the exhibition’s contents through both quantitative and qualitative means looks beyond the collection of work presented and instead questions the exhibition as a project of itself. On the southern wall are eleven large drawings that encapsulate the essence of each project through the plan, as a productive tour-de-force. Each drawing is composed with the utmost precision, rendering the absolute, and forcing the observer to contemplate the composition in its entirety. Running parallel to these drawings sit eleven platforms in linear array, supplementing the content of the tableaus in comprehensive indexes. These flatten the suspense produced in the larger drawings into immediately accessible, visually assuring and theoretically complete, printed books. On the northern wall hangs a constellation of beautiful hand drawings that documents further evidence of formal investigation. These three bands provide different mediums for reading the work, which can be read in parts or together as a whole.

By presenting Dogma’s projects over three mediums, the work becomes immediately visible – providing the observer with exactly what he wants to see. The large drawings or tableaus produce adequate distance for understanding each project, but the book collapses this distance into catalogue form, standardising its reading, and accommodating any possibility of question. If this symmetrical structure is what the exhibition is meant to facilitate, then the exhibition remains an illustrative representation of Dogma’s work instead of a productive one. But if this exacting accommodation is intentional on a productive level, then the visible urgency critiques the observer by reducing him to the uniform mediums of distraction and appearance, which Dogma’s ethos so decisively challenges. In this reading, the exhibition becomes a productive form of representation – through what is not presented, through the bare, primitive forms that construct the exhibition itself.

Dogma: 11 Projects (London, 2013), 120pp, paperback, £25 is available to buy from the AA Bookshop and online from AA Publications at www.aaschool.ac.uk/publications.


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Artists’ Talks at the AA Parveen Adams recounts the past nine years of artists talks at the AA, the numerous artists who have lectured and her role in curating the series.

I have been organising the Artists’ Talks series at the AA for nine years. It started in 2004 when I was teaching at the London Consortium, a Humanities PhD programme whose members were Tate Gallery, Birkbeck College, the Institute for Contemporary Art and the AA. The Science Museum was to join later. The series was funded from the London Consortium’s small annual contribution to the AA. The first year was organised around the idea of scale and the very first lecture was given by James Casebere whose photographs of models of prisons and flooded corridors had been shown at the Lisson gallery in London. Jonas Dahlberg, a young artist from Stockholm, was a great success with his videos based on miniaturised architectural sets. Mariela Neudecker showed her Caspar Friedrich scenes in 3D models set inside vitrines of fluid. The audience is always a challenge. What AA students will find interesting is difficult, and in any case I didn’t want to invite only artists who were known for their co-operation with architects. Fame does not guarantee a good talk, and as the talks progressed I learned that what seemed important was the openness of artists to questions about how they worked. Where some felt relieved that they had ‘fielded the questions’, others were delighted to try to answer what the questioner wanted to know. Rarely, but importantly, did an artist lay bare the way in which the work was conceived and developed – Becky Beasley did this with intensity and honesty. In the second year of the talks I could think of no artists other than Gavin Turk of RCA notoriety and Thomas Demand about

whom I had written a long essay. So I added to them the French philosopher and critic Didi-Huberman, a man who is much admired but usually keeps a low profile. I also added myself because I had thought about Cronenberg’s Crash for years and I delivered a paper on the film. The thought of the series was always with me, and I semi-consciously sifted through the work of artists whom I saw or read about as possibilities for the coming year’s programme. I remembered the impact that Stan Douglas’ work at Documenta had on me. I remembered the work of the Atlas Group and my amazement when I realised that the group was one person – Walid Raad. I remembered the extraordinary video work of Jane and Louise Wilson on the Stasi offices. The series also had staunch supporters including – Francesco Manacorda, now Artistic Director of Tate Liverpool; Simon Baker, now Curator of Photography at Tate Modern and Robb Leigh, who was then at Thomas Dane. It was Robb who suggested that I invite Michael Landy, the artist known for having publicly destroyed every last thing he owned. Here was a challenge! Landy said he was not used to speaking and seemed not to have realised that he needed to show his work to the audience. With Robb’s help all was prepared and having circled the park all morning, Landy arrived at the AA to face the packed Lecture Hall and North Jury Room. There wasn’t a spare seat. This was outdone only by Christopher Marclay, yet to be famous for The Clock. He had been invited to speak at the last minute and it turned out that it was the only evening he was free. There


21 Anri Sala, Cactus Score, 2011. Lithograph on BFK rives vellum paper, 45 cm x 60 cm, edition of 110, with certificate of authenticity signed by the artist, realised by Atelier Idem Paris


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was a queue in the street and he commanded not only the Lecture Hall but an overflow room. Marclay was something of a cult figure already, and Joel Newman, knowing more than I did, made the necessary accommodations. The talks in the spring of 2012 were satisfying – to those AA students who have kindly told me so. To the very mixed and grateful public who enjoyed them. And to myself because of my involvement with the work and its connections to my writing. I had written my very first piece on art for and about Mary Kelly on the occasion of the completed Interim at the New Museum in New York in 1990. I had supervised a Consortium dissertation on Sosnowska the year before. I had been impressed by Anri Sala’s ‘1392 Days Without Red’ (commissioned by Artangel) the previous autumn. I had followed Becky Beasley’s work for some years with a growing admiration, and I intended to write about it. This spring the work of the four invited speakers involved digital and computer animation techniques that altered our

experience of space and time – Matt Saunders who showed his works of painting, photographs and film; David Claerbout, whose work we experience as photographs in the present, no longer static; Ann Lislegaard, who re-works the genre of science fiction; and Jonas Dahlberg – an artist who came to speak in the first year of the series and who may well be the last. Sadly, the London Consortium is now dissolved. Sad, because there has been much to interest architecture students in the talks over the past nine years. Sad for me as it has been a pleasure to find the artists, come to know the work, and have it seen at the AA. I have not had any rules about those I invite. I have chosen them because they interested me. That has been enough to power this series for a long time. The fact that we have been able to present such a list of artists at the AA relates of course to the help I have had from Joel Newman and his student technicians, and Belinda Flaherty.

To watch the lectures please visit www.aaschool.ac.uk/lectures

Parveen Adams with Michael Landy, March 2008 Photo Valerie Bennett


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Meta-Realities Meghan Dorrian and Glen Stellmacher, AA Design & Make masters students, reflect on the materialisation of the relationship between site and scale in Hooke Park.

The work and progress of the Design & Make programme at the AA can be found at the following link: designandmake.aaschool.ac.uk.

Roundwood timber framing workshop in the Big Shed with Charlie Brentnall

Allowing Meta Scale Issues to Drive the 1 Scale of Architecture What does it mean to allow meta scale issues directly related to social, economic, ecological, humanistic, and material imperatives to drive the design of full scale architecture? Building materials are locked within the composition of our surrounding environment. As we extract these materials we alter their scale from the greater whole. As our relationship to the original scale of material reduces and becomes distant, our design process is reduced as well, away from the real, distant from the higher level realities of material cultivation, production, and consumption, toward the dimensional. The loss of understanding of meta issues is leading toward an architecture which is driven by sheet material and geometric aspiration, imbued with disregard for the

pithy meta-realities of material production and its relationship to our well-being. The Design & Make brief is to construct at 1:1. Access and an intrinsic rela足tionship to material issues at Hooke Park allow for the conception of architecture which gains depth and sa足lience by responding to the meta facets of material production. We are backpedalling from the starting line. Addressing this as a project parameter, the design approach comes from a greater magnitude; one power exponential to the 1:1 realm. We begin by looking at the scale of the greater whole, the scale of materials in their raw form; the single tree amongst the greater forest. Our sense of materiality is diametrically opposed to the material modularity and dimensionality within which architects design. Working from meta scale forward allows for control over material in its virgin form which is otherwise over足looked. This is the direct power of the Design & Make agenda, where the realization of 1:1 architecture is driven by a meta:1 mentality and its tangible relationships felt every day. Design & Make directly ad足dresses meta scale imperatives surrounding material at Hooke Park, and as a consequence affects design which becomes informed and strengthened by the meta imperative.


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A visit to the Archive

The first of the items here is a badge from 1929 that would have been worn by the President to special occasions. The medal was designed by one Cecil Walter Thomas, a celebrated sculptor and medalist of the period whose clients also included the Royal Mint. A closer look at the architecture represented on the medal reveals a ‘greatest hits’ of styles, from gothic to moorish, including a depiction of St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London walls. Behind this rises an art deco sunburst, and the piece as a whole is very much a celebration of the arts and crafts movement.

The menu cover from only two years later announces an annual reception at which the President would have entertained guests and held small exhibitions for the occasion. This cover was designed by Stephen Rowland Pierce, an alumnus of the school whose diverse career would include designing the City Halls of Norwich and Slough, as well as consulting on the town planning of Malta. What makes these pieces particularly interesting is the fact that they represent a key turning point at the school, namely the advent of the debate about modernism. The contrast of Cecil Thomas’ arts and crafts badge with Rowland Pierce’ bold menu cover is surely a testament to this shift. Everyone is welcome to visit the AA Archives, which is open all week and always has interesting theses, drawings and artefacts on display.

For more information on the AA Archives please visit www.aaschool.ac.uk/librariesarchives

AA archivist Ed Bottoms invites us to look at two mementos from a turning point in the school.


AA CONVERSATIONS

AA Conversations is a website that collects and communicates the numerous conversations occurring in and around the AA. Since its launch in late 2012, it has featured contributions from students, staff and members alike. The site contains a variety of content that is updated several times a week – from profiles that dissect different organisations and groups, to opinion pieces that reveal personal positions on contemporary issues, to interviews about upcoming projects, to reviews of local and global events, to, most popularly, brief excerpts from research currently being undertaken. The homepage is a constantly shifting landscape of different stories that appear in different formats and rearrange to reflect the passage of time. Articles are interspersed with observational comments via Twitter to create the format for an online conversation, which is accessible to all. Scrolling through the homepage, which is archived annually, reveals every story written during the current academic year. This assemblage of content is an interpretation of the AA’s own floor plan – an aggregation of strangely shaped spaces that somehow fit together to form a coherent whole. The website has been an opportunity to create links within the web-based world that the AA currently inhabits. At the end of each article are links to lecture videos, programme sites, practice websites and blogs that allow the reader to find more information about a topic and continue reading. The medium through which stories are communicated is also being tested with more textual articles and shorter pieces accompanied by bold imagery. The introduction of videos to the site saw a steady increase in visits. In the coming months, the website will include a comments feature to cultivate more of a discussion around each article. This is an example of how AA Conversations is a continually evolving platform for the student community, staff and wider membership to engage. The online articles are catalysts for longer discussions offline and can facilitate collaborations both locally and globally. By collecting these discrete compositions, whether they be brief anecdotes, fantastic tales, news reportage or overheard rumours, the hope is that by navigating them and finding connections, they might become an engaging conversation. As Mark Twain once said, ‘Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.’


To join the conversation: @AAConverse AAConversations W conversations.aaschool.ac.uk E conversations@aaschool.ac.uk

Photo Valerie Bennett


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Introduction to Fabrication of Kaleidoscopes

If you would like to find out more about the AA Visiting School, please access the following link: www.aaschool.ac.uk/visitingschool

Cody Kitchen, Tien Chen and Samantha Gebb, visiting students from Princeton University, reconcile architectural education in America and at the AA with regards to their immersion in AA Stuff.

Cody: When I began my visiting term, I was most impressed with the stuff that I saw.1 The AA makes beautiful stuff. But my honest opinion, shaped as it was by the place from which I came – a place where the worth of one thousand words is superseded only by one thousand more – could see only minimal value in that stuff. What good is stuff when words can take its value away as quickly as it is bestowed? In the arena of words versus stuff, the former is armed with tried-and-true weapons, while the latter utilises anything and everything it might find useful with no established success rate. Words, if one so chooses, have the advantage of asserting themselves with an arsenal of universally recognised grammatical structures and understood meanings. Stuff has the disadvantage – or the liberty – of much less protocol to follow. While this guerilla-like experimentation is exciting in its potential for fresh ideas, it is also daunting in its equivalent potential for failure. Tien: Yes, stuff was not the easiest to grapple with. First, I realised that, compared to what surrounded me, my stuff was pretty pale. The incredibly detailed kaleidoscope with ten layers of coloured ornaments my classmate produced beat my kaleidoscope by at least seven layers. And I’m still not completely sure about why we had to make kaleidoscopes. Why should I put so much energy into crafting an object when its significance is

so unclear? If quantity of effort exerted is being measured as an informant of richness of meaning, then I veritably exclaim that I tried quite hard to understand ‘stuff’ in the way that I thought my studio director and tutors expected. However, as a final product, the ability of my stuff to actually say something meaningful seems tenuous. But this is not a battle I am willing to lose. In my confrontation with stuff, I have realised that the problem is not in my object, but in my approach. I have not been trying to understand stuff in a ‘product-ive’ way. This is what I am beginning to glean from my tutors’ urgings to ‘just make something’: Samantha: I am starting to see stuff as an agent of process. Stuff is hard to make when it is assumed to require intensive effort in the form of extensive thought. But what if stuff could be thought itself? Like a hastily jotted-down sentence fragment, a list of ingredients, or a flicker of a dream, stuff amounts to the uncensored sketches that become building blocks for structured, intellectually demanding syntheses. These objects of generation – sometimes rapid, sometimes laborious – assert their value in their tangibility. The presence of stuff vaporises the fear of the blank page. 1 Included in this statement is my working definition of ‘stuff’ – that which I can physically see.


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Too much is never enough! Tyen Masten, tutor in AA Diploma Unit 5, playfully extrapolates on the relevance of Stuff for architecture and implicitly questions the role of the contemporary architect.

Elephant LP by Mat Maitland


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Tyen Masten teaches Diploma Unit Five. Follow the link to see more of how the unit ‘compiles and composes’ Stuff: www.aaschool.ac.uk/study/dip5

All we hear is radio ga ga Radio goo goo Radio ga ga All we hear is radio ga ga Radio goo goo Radio ga ga All we hear is radio ga ga Radio blah blah – Freddy Mercury Every day we are confronted with a multitude of choice; if we remain unconscious in this wealth of information, it can easily become just background visual noise that loses meaning and internet goo goo or ga ga (or just google). Due to the onslaught and almost nauseating amount of flattened visual and cultural input available to the contemporary architect, it is ever more crucial that we become adept at analysing this stuff. For architects, this stuff extends into various aspects of the field, but for the purposes of this article I would like to focus mainly on visual and cultural stuff, and how it impacts the way we produce architecture. But how can we be more accepting and at once remain critical of all this information, so that it does not become simply goo goo or ga ga? If we are resistant to stuff during this current tidal wave of information, we may somehow be missing out. Therefore it is important that we not only learn how to manage the amount and quality of information that we take in, but also actively participate in that process; that we should be constantly collecting information in an active rather than passive way. As a participant-observer amid this vast sea of goo goo and gaga the architect must constantly be aware of making it a useful tool in the process of creation. If achieved, this stuff can be given significant value as a tool for transforming visual and cultural aspects of architecture in a positive way. In the 1940s Fernando Ortiz coined the term ‘transculturation’, which describes the process of multiple cultures fusing with one another to create new common cultures. This process became more relevant during colonialism, but one could argue that the topic has become more relevant with increased access to a multitude of cultures through global networks and the internet.

Not only has this process become more significant, but it is something which constantly challenges us as designers, due to an accelerated rate of change. The goal is to be aware of what is being delivered, what is useful, and what is being re-distributed by the architect. Only then can architecture actively engage in the inevitable process of transculturation, which is taking place at hyper speed, with an understanding that the aim is not to produce universality or singularity. The so-called difference and complexity which has been pursued during the past 15 years, mixed with fetishising digital tools, has only resulted in shiny metal sameness. These universal approaches to architecture, the technophiles propose, have become outdated self-referential systems that actually resist cultural complexity and only produce singular design visions. If we now understand that complexity has been confused with what was actually just difficulty, then we can move towards an engaged complexity that requires inclusive diligence. By mastering this flow of information the architect can assume a more comprehensive and directed role as a composer of information. Thus, if we understand our role of architect as a compiler or composer, rather than that of an artistic authoritarian, then we see this dynamic universe of STUFF as an opportunity for developing a multitude off messy difference. This aligns with Robert Venturi’s statements in Nonstraightforward Architecture: A Gentle Manifesto ‘By embracing contradiction as well as complexity, I am for vitality as well as validity.’ And again later ‘I am for messy vitality, over obvious unity.’ By harnessing the visual and cultural information that surrounds us, we are hopefully liberated from the self-imposed rules implied by unification and can begin to actively engage with the process of transculturation. With a tuned ability to orchestrate the wealth of visual data available to us, architects can then become less ‘Moses on the Mountaintop’, delivering the laws of architecture, and be more like a DJ, delivering an exquisite track.


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Let’s get Stuffed! Antoine Vaxelaire, a Fifth Year student in Diploma 9, reveals his views on the ways in which we consume stuff.

‘Les chats en force.’ What if this was our end?


To see more work from Antoine please visit http://dip9.aaschool.ac.uk

29 It has become accepted and more strangely overlooked; the world is ‘flat’. From economists to sociologists arguments of globalisation, mass-media, high speed fibre optic cables or even the ‘Y-generation’ are all we hear, yet (almost) no architect speaks of this flatness, nor do they build anything that closely relates to it. There is a reason for that: the world isn’t flat, it’s levelled. While flatness removes intrinsic singularities and imposes a common language, levelling drowns specificity into an ocean of stuff that tends to average it all. Accepting this new state of information is surely not enough. We need to learn how to digest it, walk through it, and ultimately, we need to properly get stuffed by it! Our past informs us that the nineteenthcentury flâneur struggled through the crowds of Parisian arcades; that the twentieth-century voyeur fought against the American high-rises, and our present screams at us: we need to extract ourselves from the mediatic swamp and define our new paradigmatic individual. What is the twenty-first-century mindset, or how can its tool (media) help us define it? A tool has no strength without a technique. To use an iPhone as if it were an ordinary telephone is simply as worthless as those who find refuge in the naïve critique of our new digitalised era, arguing that we have lost all sense of the ability to communicate via so-called ‘real’ human relations. That is nostalgic and counterproductive since it is obvious that the value and potential of our mediatic world is purely dependent on the way we use it. Furthermore, we have a responsibility to be critically constructive every time we launch Google. To use the internet’s endless database as if it were a library is both a mistake and a break in the construction of that tool, a tool whose strength resides in its openness, its acceptance of weakness and its levelling. Every figure, be it human or artificial, shares the same value as its projected image, which is the reason LOLcats and social revolutions share the same number of views on our computing devices. It is the reason we all care to know but have stopped knowing learning. This is potentially dramatic; let us refuse to be averaged, let us not respect knowledge but urgently build a knowledgeable mind.

This implies two things: on the one hand, that we should stop assuming, especially in the architectural world, that everything and anything is interesting. This is not the case, and more importantly, such words have lost their relevance within our discipline. A subject matter (just like a tool) has no interest as such; it only gains value when theorised, linked, broken, assembled and reversed; its relevance imposes its positioning, both physically, through the architect’s proposal and conceptually, through its historical baggage. On the other hand and this is a consequence of ‘interesting syndrome’ – we are falling in the levelling trap when we agree that everyone’s opinion is valid in any field. The startup world today (the architect of social media) follows a new dogma: that of collaborative consumption, which simply means that rather than studying art history in school, you pay your neighbour to give you evening lessons and foolishly assume that he is suited for the job. If there are obvious domains where collaborative consumption offers great value (ie, food, services), there are others where it needs to stop urgently. Architecture is one of them. Architectural expertise does not reside in images or their production and therefore doesn’t belong to everyone, for that would be us shooting ourselves in the foot and reducing our fundamental doing into a merely averaged showing. Therefore this crucial ‘doing’ asks us to intellectually follow what was digitally launched, rather than digging through information (as it is usually done). The new figure of the twenty-first century wants to pan over the information, and he would find in the topsoil of media what was once hidden in the bedrock of libraries. He should embrace the open contiguity of the atlas (levelled knowledge) over the close continuity of the book (hierarchic information). Basically the ‘panneur’ wants to be the turkey rather than the stuffing. Let’s get Stuffed!


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We Have a Lot of Stuff in the Photo Library Andrew Higgott, the AA’s slide (photo) librarian from 1975 to 1989, and in 1986 awarded the AA Grad Dip in History and Theory, documents the history of the Photo Library since it was first set up more than a century ago.

The Photo Library has been built up as a co-operative venture over more than a century: initially, AA members travelling around Britain and abroad searching for buildings of interest gave photographs to the collection. Hugh Stannus provided a huge number of pictures of the ancient sites in the Middle East and John Loftus Robinson of English country houses, among much else. The first Photo Librarians were Rachel Morrison and then Marjorie Morrison, who was librarian from 1935–75. The collection they built was of the three-and-a-quarter inch (825mm) square ‘lantern slide’. From that, an impressive and well-edited survey of Western architecture was built up, comprising some 40,000 images, which is still held as a unique and valuable archive. A classification system, unique to the AA, was developed to address teaching needs. F R Yerbury is of the greatest importance as an individual photographer. This gifted amateur was, alongside his otherwise very demanding job of running the AA School’s administration, one of the most significant architectural photographers of the 1920s and 30s, during which time he brought the imagery of modern architecture in Europe and the USA to Britain: his photographs were exhibited, and published in a series of a dozen books as well as over a hundred journal articles. What makes the AA’s library unique is its role as the repository of tens of

thousands of original images of architecture that are not taken from books and not duplicates, but photographs taken in situ of innumerable buildings from the Glasgow School of Art to the Taj Mahal, from Palladian villas to the Sunset Strip. During the early 1950s, Kodachrome made its appearance, and the 35mm colour slide became the standard way of photographing architecture. A second collection, superseding that of lantern slides – 35mm slides – were added to many thousands of large-format slides which were rephotographed to provide the core of the new smaller-format collection. Many exceptional photographs may be found in this collection: the short-lived buildings of the World Fairs in Brussels (1958), Montreal (1967) and Osaka (1970); Canon Parsons’ photographs of Italian churches; and Alec Bellamy’s of the USA in the 1960s. The changes of the 1960s and 70s in architectural education required a broader approach to building the collection. The design teaching staff, rather than historical or technical lecturers, developed increasingly speculative projects and used the resources of the library to develop their pedagogy, while students (who were allowed to use the collection from 1971) became, at times, demanding borrowers. Bernard Tschumi, Peter Cook, Dalibor Vesely, Charles Jencks and Reyner Banham were among the frequent users of the collection during this period. A more


31 150,000 slides of buildings and places. Photo Valerie Bennett


32 Below The Robin Evans Collection Right Lantern slides Photos Valerie Bennett


To see what else the AA Photo Library has to offer please visit www.aaschool.ac.uk/photolibrary and conversations.aaschool.ac.uk

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inclusive understanding of architecture and history – including the anonymous architecture of the city, vernacular architecture of many different cultures, examples of technical inventions and even pictures of people, shaped radical changes in the collection. I became librarian in 1975 and oversaw this development in order to form a more proactive role for the library. Staff of the library, including Marjorie Morrison and long-time part-timer Hazel Cook, had already set up a tradition of taking photographs for the collection, rather than depending on others to bring them in. This was further developed during my period as librarian, and continues with my successor, Valerie Bennett, who extensively contributes to the collection. The period of the later 1970s and 1980s, under the chairmanship of Alvin Boyarsky, also saw the start of the consistent photography of student work in the School, as well as a collection of images of School life. The 1990s saw more radical changes, and Valerie Bennett who had become Librarian in 1989 took the work of the library in new and different directions. A very successful series of cards of images from the collection were published; the early twentieth century idea of the Camera Club

was revived; and a far more ambitious programme of exhibitions was initiated. In recent years, valuable collections of slides by Reyner Banham, Robin Evans, and Ernö Goldfinger have been donated to augment the Photo Library’s collection. The Photo Library also expanded in terms of developing a video collection, which includes an archive spanning several decades and incorporates lectures by most of the major figures in architecture. And the collection’s move in 2008 to the ground floor of 37 Bedford Square allowed for the establishment of the AA Cinema. But Valerie Bennett’s role has gone beyond that of curator, and her photography of the events at the AA has become an intrinsic part of School life. Lectures, workshops, juries and events are photographed by her and added to the School’s blog and digital archive. Its current total of something like half a million images extends beyond what its early history might have suggested: the role of the camera in the development and documentation of architectural processes have become absolutely fundamental. And the far wider access and use opened up by digital media has enormous potential for its further use and growth.


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eBay Still LiFes

It is particularly difficult to take a picture of a mirror, as it is always trying to make a picture of something else. These incongruous images, taken from listings on eBay, demonstrate exactly that. Walls, windows, floors and ceilings are crisply reflected in their flawless surfaces, producing a collage of extraneous visual information that pulls focus from the mirrors themselves. These are profoundly unprofessional photographs but, as eBay is full of them, is it true to conclude that their value is not affected by their unconventional representation? Or do their owners have neither the time nor inclination to do a better job? It might in fact be the case that in order to take a decent picture of stuff you no longer want, you have to buy more stuff first. Scouring online forums for advice on how to photograph a mirror reveals recommendations for translucent papers

and fabrics, mounting structures, lighting rigs and polarising filters, all of which require the photographer to remain oblique. The most comprehensive approach is to use these in combination with a photographer’s tent, within which the mirror is positioned and lit. A perpendicular photograph is taken through a tiny hole in the tent’s fabric, leaving the smallest possible trace of the camera in the resulting image. These photographs reveal irrelevant details about the sitting rooms, bedrooms, sheds, gardens and conservatories from which the mirrors are being removed. It turns out that to completely remove these rooms from the mirrors first requires the construction of another kind of room altogether – a visual vacuum outside of which the owner and his home recede from view.

Juliet Haysom’s exploration of mirrors on eBay is tangential to her project in Intermediate Unit 5, which can be found at the following link: www.aaschool.ac.uk/study/inter5

Juliet Haysom, Third Year student in Intermediate Unit Five, stumbles upon an evocative observation.


35 The mirrors of eBay


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The internet is stuff Tommaso Franzolini, director of Factory Futures Summer School, discusses architecture’s need to address the role that datacentres will play in the future of the profession.

If garbage is the forgotten by-product of mass production, today’s information economy finds its physical doppelgänger in the infrastructure supporting our growing need for data storage and distribution. Stuff – understood here as the materialwithout-qualities of data production – takes the form of highly generic boxes arrayed around the complex security, energetic and spatial requirements of the datacentre. As the amount of digital information increases tenfold every five years, and Moore’s law – which the computer industry now takes for granted – says that the storage capacity of computer chips doubles roughly every 18 months, it is evident that the physical reality of data production will become a key driver of future industrial and urban politics.1 While we could dismiss this scenario as essentially anti-architecture, or celebrate it as a sci-fi dystopia, it may now be the time to discuss the ways in which this phenomenon is shaping our productive landscapes. By focusing on the physicality of data production rather than on the overrated discourse of ‘virtual architectures’, the aim is to provide both technical insight and a critical understanding of the built world’s increasingly pervasive reality. Browsing the web in search of information on how data is stored and secured one discovers a rapidly evolving ecosystem of users, suppliers, building technologies, software, platforms, content creators, data (big and small), regulatory forces, utilities, governments, energy consumption, politics and company operating tenets.2 Key players such as Microsoft, Google, and HP are driving the evolution of datacentres as

customised modularity that shifts away from the traditional image of a monolithic, raised floor factory shed full of servers towards modular, pre-manufactured components, which help reduce costs, increase scalability, and improve energy efficiency. Microsoft ITPAC’s (IT PreAssembled Component) 3 combines compute, power, cooling and networking in self-contained modules, which allow for the right-size of the initial build, respond just in time to business fluctuations and operate in potentially unmanned, lights-off conditions. The latest developments in open-air components technology enable the broader use of free air cooling instead of a constant flow of conditioned air. This drastically reduces both energy and water consumption to nearly domestic levels. These new modules supersede the traditional idea of servers in container-like boxes: today, it’s the container itself to become a computer. Information becomes matter at an architectural scale. AOL’s Micro-datacentres are leading the way towards the miniaturisation, autonomy and distribution of the storage facilities, thus opening to a conceivable near future in which the datacentre for the post-cloud era could be small, powerefficient and clustered to enable an incredible amount of geo-distributed capacity at a very low cost. 4 This approach creates the potential for networks of micro-datacentres, each supported by solar power, that can operate together to enable a follow-the-sun strategy in which IT workloads shift across regions throughout the day. Cloud-based companies will soon


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From 1–12 July 2013 Tommaso Franzolini will direct the second edition of Factory Futures – the AA Visting School in Ivrea, Italy. For more information please visit http://factoryfutures.tumblr.com.

Image of a Google server, located all over the world from Iowa to Finland

start to populate their own in each city because it is more efficient than current ‘mega datacentres’ and creates a more efficient network by distributing data to the edge: without the need of a physical building, the philosophy behind these Generation 4 datacentres are opening realistic scenarios of fully distributed, highly delocalised conditions of production and capitalising on the exponential powers of grid computing. Current technological advancements in the industry of data storage and distribution are enabling the gradual transformation from an economy based on the networking of human intelligence towards a new economy based on the networking of machine intelligence 5 : the architecture of the factory loses any traditional spatial quality and reappears as highly generic stuff devoid of any representational content – ie, black boxes of circuitry and silicon distributed in what remains of the old concept of the city. In actualising the theories of a legacy that span from Hilberseimer, to Branzi and Natalini, this radical integration of building and information technology seems to question once again the very foundation of architecture and urban design. As the technomorphic, non-spatial, non-figurative distributed character of this stuff represents the last material expression of the

increasingly abstract character of our productive relationships, it may also offer a new disciplinary opportunity to rethink the production of contemporary aspects of space: the problematisation of dynamic processes, the spatialisation of information and the incorporation of information technologies into matter may become the necessary resources for the re-empowerment of the discipline within contemporary conditions of production. 1 ‘This is our first time in the situation where we couldn’t store all the information we create even if we wanted to.’ John F. Gantz, ‘The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe’. An IDC White Paper. March 2008. 2 datacenterknowledge.com – A useful repository on datacentre related news 3 globalfoundationservices.com – GFS is the engine that powers Microsoft’s cloud services 4 loosebolts.wordpress.com – Michael Manos CTO of AOL Services 5 For greater details see: Philippe Morel, ‘n extensions à Extensions de la grille. Sur la production contemporaine et la notation à partir de Le Corbusier et Ludwig Hilberseimer’, in Multitudes 20, printemps 2005, Paris, March 2005.


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AA Membership: Events, Visits and Trips Photographs of the latest events organised by the Membership Office.


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For more information on up and coming membership events please visit www.aaschool.ac.uk/membership/events

Top left: Honorary Members’ Evening, 5 March 2013, photo Valerie Bennett; Bottom left: Canada Water with Piers Gough, 3 May 2013, photo Valerie Bennett; Top right: ScanLAB Gallery Talk, 19 January 2013, photo Sue Barr; Bottom right: La Maison de Verre Day Trip to Paris for members, 18 April 2013, photo Sue Barr


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Remembering Alan Colquhoun, the friend

The perfect embodiment of the elegant, highly cultured, Anglo-Saxon bachelor, Alan was always admired and respected by all who knew him for his exceptional intellect and charm. His great need for personal independence endowed him with what always seemed to me an enviable ability to create for himself a unique and ever-evolving lifestyle, one that perfectly reflected his current interests, curiosities, and professional ambitions. When I first met Alan in the 1980s, he was at the peak of his international academic career at Princeton, spending term time in the US and ‘holidays’ in Europe. During the long summers he would catch up with projects at his greatly respected practice, Colquhoun and Miller, revive his many life-long local friendships and generally re-stoke his Englishness, before heading back to New Jersey in September. These very active and successful years were followed by his retirement from Princeton to London, from where he continued, until the very end, to read voraciously and eclectically, write, travel, teach and discuss. Classical music, and particularly that of Haydn and Schubert, supported him through life until his very last hours. Despite this somewhat solitary existence, and the many fruitful hours spent working at his desk, delighting in the gentle views of the green slopes of Primrose Hill, Alan was surrounded by friends of all types, students and colleagues. We all loved – and now very much miss – our impromptu visits,

whether just to enjoy his unique company and humour, or to seek out someone whose opinion we cherished, or, if we felt strong, to engage with in one of the exhilarating and exhausting debates about architecture – or anything else in life – that were Alan’s favourite form of sport. Alan’s last years were marked by his intense determination to live on, making the most of every day and every hour, enjoying long walks in the park, while also methodically preparing his legacy, sorting his fascinating archive, and, despite failing eye-sight, continuing to read new and cherished old books. He basked in the warmth of the celebrations for his 90th birthday, both privately and at the AA. An exceptional and wonderful man, an exceptional scholar, of a magical generation that is disappearing, he will never be replaced.

In October 2011 the AA celebrated Alan Colquhoun’s life in a sequence of lectures delivered by his close friends and collaborators, including the likes of Kenneth Frampton and Bob Maxwell. A lecture can be found at the following link: www.aaschool.ac.uk/video/alancolquhoun2011.

Barbara Weiss, AA graduate and a close friend of Alan Colquhoun, commemoratively reflects on the life of the great theorist, educator, practitioner and friend.


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recommended reading

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

Books on ‘stuff’ available from the AA Bookshop

Junkspace with Running Room Rem Koolhaas/ Hal Foster London 2013, 19 x 12cm, 78pp. Hardback £12.00 (Members receive a 20% discount until 31 May 2013) In ‘Junkspace’ (2001), architect Rem Koolhaas itemised in delirious detail how our cities are being overwhelmed. His celebrated jeremiad is here updated and twinned with ‘Running Room’, a fresh response from architectural critic Hal Foster, who writes: ‘The manifesto is a modernist mode, one that looks to the future – Junkspace makes no such claim: “Architecture disappeared in the twentieth century,” states Koolhaas matter-of-factly. Junkspace does a harder thing: it “foretells” the present, which is to say that it calls on us to recognise what is already everywhere around us.’

Contraband Taryn Simon Gottinghen 2010, 23.8 x 17.8cm, 200 colour illustrations, 224pp. Paperback £40.00 Taryn Simon lived in John F Kennedy International Airport from 16–20 November, 2009. JFK processes more international passengers than any other airport in the United States. Contraband is comprised of photographs taken 24 hours a day of more than 1000 items detained or seized from passengers and express mail entering the US from abroad. At the US Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Site and the US Postal Service International Mail Facility, Simon documented items including counterfeit American Express travellers cheques, heroin, a dead hawk, an illegal Mexican passport, deer penis, Cuban cigars, counterfeit Disney DVDs, GHB concealed as house cleaner, counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags, undeclared jewellery, steroids and an ostrich egg.


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new from aa publications

Dogma: 11 Projects Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara With an introduction by Brett Steele and afterword by Gabriele Mastrigli 120 pp, extensive b/w ills 280 x 232 mm, paperback March 2013 978-1-907896-30-9 £25 Over the past ten years the Brussels-based architectural studio Dogma, founded and led by Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara, has focused almost exclusively on large-scale projects and citywide interventions that look beyond mere physical size to expand conceptual frameworks and radically rethink what it is to produce an architectural project. This book explores 11 works developed since 2002 that collectively present the Dogma ethos: to see the urban project as a comprehensive domain in which architectural form, the political and the city are reclaimed as one ‘field’. Mobilising and reinvigorating both drawing and text  these 11 projects range from speculative and theoretical proposals to investigations that question today’s modes of housing.

AA Agendas 12 Drawings that Count Edited by Francesca Hughes With an interview with Mary Beard and essays by Noam Andrews and David Edgerton 192 pp, extensive col. & b/w ills 245 x 225 mm, paperback April 2013 978-1-907896-26-2 £20 No architectural category is more fickle or more artificial than ‘context’. This collection of 60 large drawings produced over five years by AA Diploma 15 addresses the construction of context by architecture for its own particular purposes. A self-declared ‘render-free zone’, the unit’s interrogations of architecture’s seminal sites (antiquity, technology, the future and its proxies) examine the role of figuration and the exclusion of indeterminacy in the always already mediated question of context. These line drawings – against the ascendancy of parametricisation and the glossy rendered perspective – question architecture’s ambivalence to the artifice it installs between itself and the outside world.


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For further information on AA Publications or to order, visit www.aaschool.ac.uk/publications

Adaptive Ecologies: Correlated Systems of Living Edited by Theodore Spyropoulos With essays by Patrik Schumacher, Mark Burry, Brett Steele and John Frazer 336 pp, 240 x 184 mm, hardcover May 2013 978-1-907896-13-2 £30 Recent architecture must now cope with new social and cultural complexities that demand networked systems which are timebased, reconfigurable and evolutionary, and a corresponding model of urbanism defined as an adaptive ecology. In this context the AA’s graduate Design Research Lab (DRL) has pursued its recent studio agenda through project-based research, focusing on alternative models of housing. Integral to this research is a notion of architecture that looks towards designing systems that seek an intimate correlation of material and computational interaction. This book presents the results of this research while constructing a generative view of space, structure and the exploration of behaviour based models of living through patterns found in nature.

Bricoleur Bricolage Frank Barkow 297 x 210 mm June 2013 978-1-907896-29-3 £ tbc Prompted by the art historian Hal Foster’s recent description of Barkow Leibinger as ‘bricoleurs as much as they are engineers’, Bricoleur Bricolage presents an overview of Barkow Leibinger’s recent work, largely through the recently completed Tour Total building in Berlin.


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new from bedford press

Bedford Press is an imprint of AA Publications. The Civic City Cahier series can be ordered at: www.bedfordpress.org/ebooks

Bedford Press is pleased to release the first ebooks published by the AA. The Civic City Cahier series is now available in ebook format, beginning with the out-of-print editions 1 and 2 by Margit Mayer and Gui Bonsiepe. The books are distributed worldwide through Amazon for Kindle and on the iBookstore for Apple devices.


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news Council The results of this year’s Election of Officers and Council for the 2013/14 session are as follows:

President Sadie Morgan (former AA Tutor) * Vice President Diana Periton (former AA Tutor) * Vice President Frank Duffy CBE (AADipl(Hons) 1964) * Hon Secretary Yasmin Shariff (former AA student) * Hon Treasurer Paul Warner * Past President Keith Priest (AADipl 1975) Ordinary Members Joanna Chambers Eleanor Dodman (AA Dip 9 student) Oliver Domeisen (AADipl 1996 and former Unit Master) * Lionel Eid (AA Dip 10 student) Summer Islam (AA Dip 11 student) David Jenkins (former AA Vice President) * Alex Laing (AADipl 2012) Aram Mooradian (AADipl 2011) * Hugh Pearman Rory Sherlock (AA Inter 10 student) * Rebecca Spencer (AA Dip 16 student, former AA Councillor) * Jane Wernick (former AA Tutor and former AA Councillor) * * Elected on the 2013/14 ballot. The period of election opened at 10:00 am on Monday 25 March and closed at 5:00 pm on Friday 26 April. This year’s ballot included a total of twelve very strong candidates running for six vacancies on the Ordinary Membership of Council. The scrutineers were Mi-Voice Electoral Services, and their official report can be viewed at: www.aaschool.ac.uk/downloads/ result-of-the-election-of-officers-andcouncil-2013-2014.pdf The AA Council and a great number of long-standing friends of the AA came together on the evening of 5 March 2013 to celebrate the presentation of Honorary AA Membership to David Gray (AADipl 1955, former AA Tutor, former Academic Deputy and former AA Councillor), Herman Herzberger, Charles Jencks (former AA Tutor), Eva Jiricna CBE (AA Past President), Joseph Rykwert (former AA student

and former Tutor) and Dalibor Vesely (former AA Tutor and former Councillor). This highest classification of AA membership is reserved as a special honour granted to individuals whose contributions to the work and development of the Architectural Association, or to the education or profession of architects in general, is particularly noteworthy. This year’s six new Honorary Members join a select group of 11 existing Members. Nominations for Honorary Membership are welcome, and will be considered by AA Council later this year – please use the following form: www.aaschool.ac.uk/downloads/ hon_membership_nomination_form.pdf. To read more about this event please visit conversations.aaschool.ac.uk

On 9 March Takako Hasegawa (AADipl 2001 GradDipl(AAIS) 2009, AA Foundation Master) organised ‘Positive Failure’, an event exploring the spatial possibility of ‘Black Maria’, a temporary timber structure created by artist Richard Wentworth and the Swiss practice, Gruppe, in King’s Cross. www.kingscross.co.uk/blackmaria Vikrant Tike (GradDipl(AAIS) 2010) and Nilufer Kocabas from Studio Amita Vikrant participated in the Vernal Workshops, a collaboration between Cardiff University and Bigli University hosted in Istanbul 20–24 April. http://vernal.bilgi.edu.tr/?page_id=2

Published & Exhibited LECTURES & SYMPOSIA ‘Material Formations’, a workshop led by Tomas Pohnetal (AADipl 2011), is to be held at the Architectural Institute in Prague 18–25 August. Deadline for applications is 31 May. www.aaschool.ac.uk/public/newsnotices/schoolnews.php?item=740 Ioanna Symeonidou (AA EmTech MSc 2009) in collaboration with Dr Yannis Zavoleas from Patras University taught a computational design workshop entitled ‘AB-USE Computation in Architecture’ as part of the eCAADe 2013 conference, in Porto, Portugal. Sushant Verma and Pradeep Devadass (both AA EmTech MArch 2013) also presented at the conference a paper based on their thesis project ‘adaptive[skins]’. Koichi Takada (AADipl 1996) spoke at a panel discussion of leading Australian and Japanese Architects on 13 April with fellow speakers Andrew Burns, Peter Stutchbury and Yoshihito Kashiwagi. They discussed ‘Parallel Nippon’, an exhibition exploring Japanese architecture at the Japan Foundation Gallery in Sydney. http://architectureau.com/calendar/ exhibitions/parallel-nippon Ricardo de Ostos (AA Inter 3 Unit Master) spoke at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation annual symposium on 20 April. http://events.gsapp.org/event/ interpretations-discerning-fictions

The Venice Biennale 2012 exhibition ‘Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture’ co-curated by Vanessa Norwood (AA Head of Exhibitions) was shown at RIBA London 26 February – 27 April. It launched in conjunction with a season of debates and events featuring Sadie Morgan (AA President elect), Alex de Rijke (former AA Tutor) Daryl Chen (AA MA(Dist) H&U 2003), Alex Warnock-Smith (AADipl 2006, H&U Course Master) and Takero Shimazaki (AA Inter 2 Unit Master). www.architecture.com/whatson/ exhibitions/at66portlandplace/2013/ spring/venicetakeawayideastochangebritisharchitecture.aspx AA exhibition ‘Frozen Relic’ by ScanLab which ran 12 January – 9 February was featured on the BBC’s website. www.bbc.co.uk/news/ science-environment-21125177 Arthur Mamou-Mani (AADipl 2008) completed a window display installation for the Karen Millen store on Regent Street this spring. The installation was part of the Regent Street Windows Project, organised by RIBA. http://mamou-mani.com/karenmillen The AA Sustainable Environmental Design programme was featured in The Architects’ Journal, 8 February 2013. www.architectsjournal.co.uk/sustainability/architectural-association-marchsustainable-design-graduateshow-2013/8642356.article


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Pedro Alonso (AA H&CT MA Tutor) and Hugo Palmarola exhibited their work at the Pratt Institute in New York, 19 February – 20 March. Curated by Catherine Ingraham (AA Visiting Lecturer), the exhibition ‘Cold War Cool Digital: Variable, Pre-constructed, Consequential’ presented 40 scaled prototypes of modernist, prefabricated, and globally distributed Cold War-era housing systems produced using contemporary 3D printing technologies.  www.pratt.edu/news/view/ school_of_architecture_to_present_ exhibition_and_symposium_on_cold_ war_era Elif Erdine (AA DRL MArch 2006, current PhD in Design student and DLAB Director), Alexandros Kallegias (AA DRL MArch 2011, DLAB Tutor) and Daghan Cam (AA DRL MArch 12, DLAB Tutor) showcased the final prototype of AA DLAB 2012, Fallen Star, during the Kinetica Art Fair 2013 in London, 27 February – 3 March. www.kinetica-artfair.com Kathryn Findlay (AADipl 1979) was featured in The Guardian’s ‘Portrait of the Artist’ series. www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/ apr/02/kathryn-findlay-architectportrait-artist Nomadic design studio Unknown Fields, directed by Liam Young and Kate Davies (AA Dip 6 Unit Masters), has been profiled in the current issue of ‘Thinking in Practice’. http://thinking-in-practice.com/ unknown-fields-division

Careers & Prizes The winners of the 2012–13 AA Writing Prizes are: First Year, Sandra Kolacz; Second Year, Radu R Macovei; Third Year, Lili Carr. The winner of the Dennis Sharp Writing Prize for Diploma School is Christopher C Bisset. Sho Ito, Intermediate 5, won best Technical Studies Project in the 3rd Year and Mond Qu, Diploma 6, won best Technical Studies Thesis in the 5th Year. White Cube Bermondsey, designed by Casper Mueller Kneer Architects, the firm of former AA tutors and current AA Visiting School Co-Directors Marianne Mueller (AADipl 1995) and Olaf Kneer (AADipl 1993), has received a Commendation by the Civic Trust. www.cmk-architects.com

Paula Velasco (AA EmTech MSc 2011) and Alberto Moletto (AA SED MSc 2009, former AA Tutor), with Cecilia Puga, won the International Competition for the renovation and new building for the Palacio Pereira in Santiago, Chile, which will host the Museum and Libraries Council of the Chilean Government. Alan Chandler (AADipl 1996) was the conservation consultant. The project is expected to be completed in 2014. Alexander Laing (AA Dipl 2012 and AA Councillor) and Francesco Belfiore (AADipl 2012) were awarded first place with their proposals to transform the sunken cruise ship Costa Concordia into a memorial garden, in a competition commissioned by research platform ICSplat. www.dezeen.com/2012/12/19/ new-concordia-island-by-alexander-laing-and-francesco-matteobelfiore Bolles & Wilson director Professor Peter Wilson (AADipl 1974, former AA Tutor) has won the 2013 Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal. The award acknowledges his outstanding body of work across more than thirty years, citing Wilson’s long standing contribution to the development of architectural drawing, intellectual contribution to thinking on architecture and dedication to teaching, at the Architectural Association and more recently at the Accademia de Architettura in Mendrisio. www.bdonline.co.uk/news/peter-wilsonawarded-aia-gold-medal-2013/5052983. article Suha Bekki (AADipl 1994) has won a competition to design the logo and branding identity for the new International Training Academy of Projacs International in London. Atmos Studio, the practice of former AA Unit Master Alex Haw, is creating ‘a Mobile Orchard’ for this year’s City of London Festival. Devised as an edible, climbable, inhabitable series of urban trees, the installation opens to press on 21 June and will rove through five of the City’s squares over the course of five weeks. www.atmosstudio.com Toyo Ito (HonAADipl 2003) was awarded the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate in March. Satpal Kaur Panesar (AADipl 2006) is pleased to announce the construction of two multifamily passive houses in Brooklyn NY, which she has been working on with Building Science architect Chris Benedict.  

The Study Center in Tacloban, Philippines, designed and built by current AA School students with the local community, was one of five finalists of the Architizer A+ awards in the categories of Student Design & Build projects and Architecture & Collaboration. Enrique Limon (AA DRL MArch 1997) was also selected as a finalist in the category of Architecture and Aging for Woven Terrain, with the competition entry for senior housing in Novato, California, and he received a special mention in the Architecture and Modelling category for his entry for a civic centre in Bodo, Norway. The first Beverly Bernstein Prize has been awarded this year to Carlos Nunez (AA H&U MA 2012). The award was established to commemorate former AA Registrar Beverly Bernstein, in recognition of her lifelong interest and specialisation in housing and development planning. It will be awarded annually to the best submission within the AA’s Housing & Urbanism MA and MArch courses to help disseminate the ideas and conclusions contained in it that can be of relevance to address housing and urban development issues in the developing world. The deadline for applications for this year’s Independents’ Group Research Fellowship, in joint collaboration with RMIT and the AA, is 28 June 2013. The grant is open to young architects seeking an opportunity to develop research projects and experimental prototypes for public presentation, exhibition and publication in collaboration with consultants and manufacturing partners under the guidance of the IG team. Candidates are asked to submit a project proposal and work plan, responding to the themes, topics and collaborations offered by the Group. Projects will run once per year over a period of four to six months. www.independentsgroup.net


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OBITUARIES AA Member Eric Charles Browning (AADipl 1950) passed away earlier this year at the age of 86. Architect Charles Cullum died on 04 March aged 86. Born in North Lincolnshire and a 1953 graduate of the AA, he emigrated to Canada and became a prominent figure in Newfoundland. He founded his own firms, first The Architect’s Guild, then Cullum and Cullum Ltd and served as president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Newfoundland Association of Architects. Architect George Finch died of a heart attack 13 February aged 82. Finch, who graduated from the AA in 1955, designed for an egalitarian post-war London and his buildings were constantly underlined by a social approach to urbanism. Working at first with London County Council, Finch went on to work extensively with Lambeth Borough Architects Department under Ted Hollamby, creating Lambeth Towers in Kennington and the iconic Brixton Recreation Centre, a well-loved feature of the area, which was recently saved from demolition. His Weston Adventure Playground Southampton, designed in collaboration with his life partner and architect Kate Macintosh, won a RIBA award in 2005. www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/ feb/27/george-finch Former AA Intermediate Unit 6 student Leonardo (Leo) Garcia Alarcon Estrada passed away on 28 March aged 30. Leo was a keen photographer and contributed numerous images to the AA Photo Library, which were exhibited at the AA and featured in various AA media. We belatedly report the death of American architect and AA Life Member Gerhard Kallmann, who died last year. Born in Berlin in 1915, Kallmann came to London with his family in 1937 where he enrolled at the AA and graduated with an AA Diploma in 1941. Moving to the United States in 1948 he went on to teach at Chicago Institute of Design and was appointed Associate Professor of Architecture at Columbia University. He formed Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles in 1962, after winning an international competition to design a new City Hall for Boston, with Columbia graduate student Michael McKinnell. Their brutalist building became the firm’s most iconic commission that unfortunately, like so many buildings of that era, was dismissed by the public it was created to serve. Other prominent projects included the Organisation for the Prohibition of

Chemical Weapons HQ in The Hague, the US embassy in Bangkok and campuses for the University of California and Ohio State University. Leading Israeli Architect Ram Karmi died on 11 April 2013 aged 82. Karmi, who won the Israel Prize for Architecture in 2002, was both celebrated and controversial for his brutalist design for buildings such as the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv’s new Central Bus Station, the renewed Ben Gurion Airport and the Holyland Project. Born in Jerusalem in 1931, Karmi studied at the Technion in Haifa, Israel, before attending the AA in 1951 where he graduated in 1954. He returned to the Technion to teach from 1964–94 and was later appointed Full Professor of the Ariel University Center of Samaria. He lectured at MIT, Columbia University and the University of Houston. Richard Martin (Rick) Mather died in April after a short illness. Graduate of the AA urban design course (1966), Rick taught a first year unit with fellow American Dale Benedict 1974–77. He set up Rick Mather Architects in 1973, specialising on design and master planning for cultural and academic institutions. In 1980 he was commissioned to design a phased restructuring of various AA spaces, including the existing bar, kitchen, exhibition gallery and toilets, and the former photo library, drawing materials shop, triangle bookshop and crèche. Amongst many celebrated projects, the refurbishment of Dulwich Picture Gallery, an extension to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and a masterplan for the South Bank Centre, all from 1999, helped place his practice in the international architectural scene. The firm’s work on the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford was nominated for the Stirling Prize in 2010. Mather served as AA Councillor from 1992–96 and remained an active AA Member. www.ft.com/cms/s/0/817665a0-acda11e2-b27f-00144feabdc0. html#axzz2RwOnspYS Kevin Pratt (AA E&E MA 2004) passed away on 19 February 2013 aged 43. Kevin was assistant professor at Cornell University, where he was conducting transdisciplinary research in architecture and computer science to design and simulate the ecological behaviour of buildings. His MA dissertation at the AA focused on Hooke Park, at a time when the Dorset Campus had only recently been acquired by the School, thus making a positive early contribution to the thread of conversations and developments that have followed at

Hooke Park since. His energetic and positive outlook on life allowed him to develop strong collaborations such as the one with former AA Tutors Marco Poletto and Claudia Pasquero with whom he co-ran a design studio in Cornell’s Diploma school in 2012. He shared his passion for architecture with his wife Dana Cupkova and had three wonderful kids: Talullah, Alexander and Gwendolyn, his youngest, now two years old. Simos Yannas (AA SED Programme Director) writes: ‘Kevin was an exceptionally talented individual whose drive, vision, initiative and leadership qualities were unique and irreplaceable. His death at such a young age, and at such a promising moment in his career, is an immeasurable loss for our field of sustainable design in architecture.’ www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/02/ architecture-professor-kevin-prattdies-43 The family of Samuel (Mookey) Rathouse (AAPlanDipl 1970), who died unexpectedly last September following a stroke, have sent a wonderful recount of the life of the urban designer, architect and founder of Moross Rathouse Partnership. The article tracks Mookey’s career, starting with his arrival from South Africa in the swinging London of 1966, with wife Rosalind, to study Urban Design under Leslie Ginsburg at the AA. It describes Mookey’s awakening to urban design ideas of the time, about which he would argue with a cohesive group of fellow AA students into the early hours of the morning, in their Bloomsbury Square studio. The work of the practice, all centred in London’s West End, goes from early work on Carnaby Street in the 1960’s (to which the practice would return in the 1990’s) to strategic planning for the recently completed St Martin’s Courtyard in Covent Garden. You can read the full article on: www.aaschool.ac.uk/public/newsnotices/obituaries.php AA Life Member George Unwin died on 17 January in Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, at the age of 91. After serving in the Navy the Second World War, he completed his architectural studies at AA, where he graduated in 1950. He worked in Coventry for WS Hattrell, was made a partner in the firm in 1961, and set up their Manchester office where he worked until his retirement. He leaves a legacy of many fine, well-made public buildings.


next issue’s theme

time

contributions to aarchitecture@aaschool.ac.uk


school announcement

Agendas AA Agendas series will soon begin accepting proposals from individual students, teams and recent graduates

The Director’s Office is pleased to announce that in 2013 the AA Agendas series will begin accepting proposals from individual students, teams and recent graduates alongside the units and programmes of the school. Agendas seeks to expand as a platform for selected research and ideas from across the portfolios of the school, increasing both the breadth and variety of publications featuring the work of the school.

More details on how to apply will be available at aaschool.ac.uk in June with the aim to accept proposals by mid-summer for a first selection of titles planned for release in the first half of 2014.


STUDENT announcement

wanted ACQUIESCENT PROPERTY MAGNATE FOR LONDON-BASED ARCHITECTURE CANNIBALISM WITH SOCIAL ENTERPRISE MANOEUVRE WITH RESIDENCY COMMUNITY SYMBIOSIS WITH HUNGRY LONDON CRITICS WITH INTERNATIONAL ARCHI-ART BONANZA!

What if we imagine a radical commitment between architects, developers and users? London’s spaces are owned by an assortment of disconnected interests: corporate, government and private developers. This creates holes in the city’s fabric and divisions among the users. Rather than these holes remaining stagnant, we suggest seeking the opportunities they offer.

Anthropophagic Architecture is run by Lili and Albane, two AA students attempting to fill the holes. Applications to anthropophagicarchitecture@gmail.com


school announcement

Agendas

t u f f AA Agendas series will soon begin accepting proposals from individual students, teams and recent graduates

The Director’s Office is pleased to announce that in 2013 the AA Agendas series will begin accepting proposals from individual students, teams and recent graduates alongside the units and programmes of the school. Agendas seeks to expand as a platform for selected research and ideas from across the portfolios of the school, increasing both the breadth and variety of publications featuring the work of the school.

More details on how to apply will be available at aaschool.ac.uk in June with the aim to accept proposals by mid-summer for a first selection of titles planned for release in the first half of 2014.


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THIS ISSUE CONTINUES TO TRACK THE PROGRESS OF A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF THE school BY FOCUSING ON ‘STUFF’ IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH WHAT COMES AFTER ‘RESEARCH’ – THE TOPIC EXAMINED IN THE LAST ISSUE. We continue to reflect on AA life from as many differing viewpoints as possible, with tutors, students, members and graduates often proposing as many new questions about the ‘stuff’ of the school as they do answers. Included in that focus are stark contrasts between Diploma units – from Shin Egashira’s teaching philosophy in Unit 11 offering a different perspective to the wide spectrum of production in Liam Young and Kate Davies’ Unknown Fields division, Diploma 6. Meanwhile, a kaleidoscopic photo essay and commentary showcase the helmets of Intermediate 11’s Ibiza-based unit. AND THIRD YEAR STUDENT Juliet Haysom deals with the shoddy, highly telling photography of eBay’s market stall holders as part of her work in Intermediate Unit 5. Stuff, a word that has enjoyed frequent appearances in Peter Cook’s lectures at the school over many years, took on a different meaning for him ALTOGETHER WHEN

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