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Guest Seminar: Nerma Cridge

Post-Socialist City and Its Negative Casts

Pyongyang Mural.

Date: 10/03/2020
Time: 10:00-13:00
Venue: 37 Bedford Square, 1st Floor, Front Room.

This lecture will compare cities from two communist countries which at first glance, could be seen as the exact opposite from one another. Ex-Yugoslavia which tends to be seen as the most open and least communist, will be juxtaposed with the most defiantly secretive and closed country in the world – North Korea.

Taking Lebbeus Woods’ Sarajevo project in 1993 which dealt with Yugoslavia’s tragic disintegration as a point of departure, we will explore the history, secrets and speculation behind some of the most intriguing architecture in ex-Yugoslavia – including numerous gigantic abstract monuments and hidden military structures.

Counter-posed will be the still officially communist figurative monuments of Pyongyang. The premise behind taking two such different regimes is that by looking at the margins, important traits of the communist architecture as a whole, could be uncovered. Pyongyang’s figurative monuments offer no ambiguity, instead we are confronted with very clear literal meaning. One of the many contradictions of its monumental architecture built on a massive scale with incredible speed, is that even when newly completed most structures appear already out-dated.

There has been a recent surge of interest in both countries lead by photographers. This lecture will seek to redress this imbalance between the large quantities of visual information, which often comes with little explanation of the meaning, history or context.

The concluding parts will seek to define further what could be behind our insatiable yearning for this type of imagery, and argue that, at least in part, it could be attributed to collective nostalgia towards more naïve, simple and innocent times. Towards times when communism appeared to function and even inspire architecture with a true social purpose and responsibility.

Nerma Prnjavorac Cridge grew up in Sarajevo and completed her education in architecture at Birmingham, the Bartlett and the Architectural Association. Since qualifying, she worked for a number of distinguished practitioners including Thomas Heatherwick and art2architecture. Her first monograph Drawing the Unbuildable, based on her PhD thesis at the Architectural Association (supervised by dr Marina Lathouri and Mark Cousins) on the Soviet avant-garde, was published by Routledge in 2015. Nerma currently teaches at the  AA as well as running her small art and design practice Drawing Agency. Forthcoming publications include Restless: Drawn by Zaha Hadid, in Routledge Companion on Women in Architecture edited by Anna Sokolina, and The Politics of Abstraction, Nerma’s second monograph.

Guest Seminar: Jingru Cyan Cheng

Home: A Project of Rural China

Date: 03/03/2020
Time: 10:00-13:00
Venue: 37 Bedford Square, 1st Floor, Front Room.

Jingru (Cyan) Cheng obtained both PhD by Design (2018) and M.Phil Projective Cities (2014) at the Architectural Association (AA) and was the co-director of AA Wuhan Visiting School 2015-17. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Royal College of Art. Her research interests lie in the intersections between disciplines, especially shared ideas and methods by architecture, anthropology and sociology, with a focus on socio-spatial models in China. Employing the design research method, her PhD thesis focuses on rurality as a spatial question at levels of territory, settlement and household. Cyan’s research on Care and Rebellion: The Dissolved Household in Contemporary Rural China received a commendation from RIBA President’s Awards for Research 2018. 

The Yard in Liu Brothers’ Family House, Shigushan Village, 2016 (Photo & Collage by Jingru Cyan Cheng).

Guest Seminar: Teresa Stoppani, Braden Engel.

Archipelagos of Noises: exploring convolutions of city as island and city as theatre

Date: 21/01/2020
Time: 14:00-16:00
Venue: 38 Bedford Street, Ground Floor Front.

Image credit: Sohei Nishino, i-Land, http://soheinishino.net/i-land

This guest seminar will be co-led by Teresa Stoppani, author of Paradigm Islands: Manhattan and Venice(Routledge, 2010) and Unorthodox Ways to Think the City (Routledge, 2018), and Braden Engel who recently completed his PhD on Colin Rowe’s historiography and pedagogy, with an expert reinterpretation of Rowe’s seminal Collage City
Presentations and discussions will consider the possibility of the city as an island ‘in relation’ with shifting and ambiguous edges to the point of incremental saturation and endless interiority, in convergence with the possibility of the city as theatre, and vice versa, theatre as city, that address questions of construction and curation. The idea of city as island is instrumental to the condition of openness and remote networks, which ‘make archipelago’ of island narratives that, far from closed and isolated, are always ‘full of noises’ (William Shakespeare, The Tempest, III. II. 140-41). From political utopia to continental geophilosophy, complex urban archipelagos are formed through convulsing nomotop, as mythical impossibility, or as personal or sci-fi constructions. These will be linked to moments in Colin Rowe’s unpublished lecture at Cornell University that critically explored the city, from design process to lived experience, as a collective theatre that transgress possibilities of the tragic, the satiric, and the comic. 

Teresa Stoppani is an architect, architectural theorist and critic based in London, where she lectures in History and Theory Studies at the Architectural Association in London. She studied architecture in Venice and Florence, and has taught architectural design and theory in Italy (IUAV Venice), Australia (UT Sydney, RMIT Melbourne) and the UK (Architectural Association, Greenwich, Brighton, Leeds Beckett). Teresa’s research explores the relationship between architecture theory and the design process in the urban environment, and the influence on the specifically architectural of other spatial and critical practices. Teresa is the author of Paradigm Islands: Manhattan and Venice(Routledge, 2010) and of Unorthodox Ways to Think the City (Routledge, 2018), and editor, with Giorgio Ponzo and George Themistokleous, of This Thing Called Theory(Routledge 2016). She is the instigator of the architecture research collective ThisThingCalledTheory, and an editor of (RIBA/Routledge). She is currently working on her next book Architecture Dust.


Braden R. Engel (BS Philosophy and MArch, North Dakota St; MA Histories & Theories, Architectural Association) has been teaching architecture and design history and theory courses for ten years between London and California. He is currently Undergraduate History + Theory Coordinator at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Braden’s writing has been published in Architecture and Culture, The Journal of Architecture, AA Files, the Journal of Art Historiography, PLAT, and Planning Perspectives.

BOOK LAUNCH: Neeraj Bhatia (The Open Workshop), hosted by Projective Cities and Diploma Unit 7.

New Investigations in Collective Form

Date: 09/12/2019
Time: 18:30
Venue: 36 Bedford Square, Front Members Room.

More than fifty years have passed since the publication of Fumihiko Maki’s seminal text, Investigations in Collective Form, which argued for collective form as an organizing device to address the increasingly fragmented city and public realm. Today, we continue to face urban challenges – from economic inequality to a progressively fragile natural environment – that, in order to be addressed, require us to come together in a moment when what we collectively value is increasingly difficult to locate. Working within the fluctuating and indeterminate conditions of the urban realm, its public sphere, and its ecological context, this publication examines how collectivity can be formed today. Neeraj Bhatia (the principle of founder of The Open Workshop) will discuss a group of design experiments presented in his book, New Investigations in Collective Form, testing how architecture can empower the diverse voices that make up the public realm and the environments in which they exist.

The book launch will be followed by a conversation with Maria S. Giudici, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Eva Franch i Gilabert, Hamed Khosravi, and Platon Issaias.

for more information, visit: https://www.aaschool.ac.uk/VIDEO/lecture.php?ID=4183

Guest Seminar: Gianna Bottema, EDIT Collective, Julian Siravo.

Radical Care

Date: 01/11/2019
Time: 14:00-16:00
Venue: 38 Bedford Street, Ground Floor Front.

Caption: Gianna Bottema, Housing & Care Cooperatives in the Netherlands: Spatial Diagrams of Cluster Living, detail, 2019.

Gianna Bottema studied architecture at Delft University of Technology and ETH Zurich. After her Master’s degree in Delft she pursued a Taught MPhil (Projective Cities) at the Architectural Association which was focused on the emergence of housing and care cooperatives in the Netherlands. Currently she is working on the research project Collective Home Ownership: New Protocols for Architecture in collaboration with the municipality of Amsterdam.

Caption: EDIT Collective, Act 1, GDP, 2019.

EDIT is an all-female design collective. Formed about a year ago, from RCA graduates, the group shares common interests in issues of social equality, gender biases, environmental activism and the creation of equitable institutional forms. At the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019, EDIT presented ‘Honey, I’m Home’, a project that explores the domestic realm as a space of performance, in which objects and furniture are props that further enforce heteronormative habits. In an attempt to disrupt these domestic rituals, the project suggests the alteration of the domestic props. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for example, is a fictional, provocative prototype for collectivising domestic labour. As an alternative to the capitalist assumption that housework is most efficient when performed individually, the GDP is a device best used by three people. The collective’s aim is to challenge some of our archetypal spaces and structures by suggesting more equitable scenarios.

Caption: Julian Siravo, Stavros Oikonomidis, Care Centres in Vanencia, 2019.

Julian Siravo is an architect and urban designer working in the policy and think tank world. Originally from Rome, Italy, he is a graduate of both the Bartlett and the Royal College of Art. Julian is part of Common Wealth think tank and head of urban research at Autonomy, where he focuses on the spatial implications of new welfare and employment policies, on ageing populations and sustainable forms of leisure.

Guest Seminar: Michal Murawski

Perverting the Power Vertical:

Shapes and Styles of Subversion in the (Trans-Socialist) Global East

Date: 24/04/2019
Time: 10:00-13:00
Venue: 4 Morwell Street, First Floor Back, Projective Cities Studio.

This talk draws its core ethnographic material from fieldwork on architectural aesthetics and contemporary art in Warsaw and Moscow. It deploys the notion of the Power Vertical – a term used by political scientists to refer to Vladimir Putin’s brand of post-Soviet authoritarian governance – as a conceptual pivot. What are the aesthetics of the Power Vertical? Are they resolutely upright and ostentatious, like Moscow’s proliferating neo-Stalinist skyscrapers and turbo-charged Victory Day Parades? Or are they happy-go-lucky, dissipate and chaotic, like Putin’s villainous trickster wink (or Trump’s insomniac Twitter sessions)? Moreover, in the era of resurgent populisms, re-militarization and the oligarchization of capital, are the styles, shapes and affects of the Power Vertical making a mark on the planetary political-aesthetic New Normal?

While seeking to make sense of the Power Vertical, this paper also looks beyond it, exploring the heterodox shapes, styles and ideologies populating the “Global East” – a loosely-sketched zone encompassing the (post-)socialist world and its transnational entanglements. Moreover, it probes ways in which scholars can collaborate with artists, architects and activists from across the Global East: not only to analyse the Power Vertical (not only to take the Power Vertical seriously), but also to develop tactics, strategies and imaginaries to ridicule, trick, twist, undercut, queer, resist and pervert it.

With this in mind, this paper also seeks to highlight the powerful (and subversive) legacies of Actually-existing State Socialism (AeSS) – and its multiple “still-socialist” (Murawski 2018) afterlives – in the Global East and beyond; and it sketches some ideas towards a concept of trans-socialism: a radical and intersectional mode of socialist aesthetics, urbanism and political economy. Trans-socialism theorizes AeSS’s many actual and imagined migrations through space and time (beyond the “socialist block”, as well as beyond the notorious expiry date of 1989-1991); and it mines the Global East for progressive dimensions of the AeSS legacy – in the realms of urbanism, aesthetics, class, gender, race and ecology – which can be re-harnessed to exert a defamiliarizing and destabilizing effect on our late capitalist present and future.

Michał Murawski is an anthropologist of architecture and art based at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, where he is Lecturer in Critical Area Studies. His book, The Palace Complex: A Stalinist Skyscraper, Capitalist Warsaw and a City Transfixed, was published by Indiana University Press in 2019; and, in Polish, by the Museum of Warsaw in 2015. During 2017-2018, while a Visiting Scholar at the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, he carried out fieldwork for a new book project on architectural aesthetics and politics in Putin-era Moscow. With Jane Rendell, he co-edited A Century of the Social Condenser, 1917- 2017, a special issue of The Journal of Architecture (2017), and he has published in scholarly and media outlets including Third Text: Critical Studies in Contemporary Art and Culture, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Anthropology Today, Social Text, Laboratorium, Focaal, The Calvert Journal, Strelka Magazine, Forbes and The Architectural Review. In 2018, he co-curated the exhibition Portal Zaryadye – featuring 18 new works by Russian artists exploring the relationship between architecture, politics and ecology in contemporary Russia – at the State Shchusev Museum of Architecture in Moscow.

Caption: Zofia Kulik, Human Motif, 1989. Foto-dywan 240cm x 480cm (24 panels 80 x 60cm).

SYMPOSIUM

REPRESENTATIONS/INVESTIGATIONS:

MEDIA IN ARCHITECTURE, THE TERRITORY AND THE URBAN

Date: 26/04/2019
Time: 13:30-18:00
Venue: 36 Bedford Square, AA Lecture Hall.

The event brings together researchers, architects and artists to explore the use of media and representation of space as a form of multiscalar investigation, from architecture to the territory and the urban. From analogue tools to advanced computation, speakers will discuss key projects from their practice that use media beyond the pure representation of architecture but instead as a systematic form of enquiry.

This is the first of a series of public events by the MPhil Projective Cities to foster a transversal conversation and a creative dialogue across different parts and research in the AA.

Organisers: Sam Jacoby, Platon Issaias
Keynote speakers: David Burns, Eva le Roi
Participants: Gili Merin, Samaneh Moafi, Jingru (Cyan) Chen, Hamed Khosravi, Xristina Argyros, Maria S. Giudici, Clara Oloriz, Christina Varvia. 

more information about the event and speakers bios at: https://www.aaschool.ac.uk/VIDEO/lecture.php?ID=4026

Caption: Eva Le Roi, Canal St-Martin. ink on paper, 37 x 56 cm.

David Burns, Tufi 1, 2018.

Guest Seminar: Cristina Gamboa Masdevall

Radical Daily Practices

Date: 27/02/2019
Time: 13:00-17:00
Venue: 4 Morwell Street, Second Floor, Housing and Urbanism Studio Space.

The lecture will describe the relation between the development process of LaBorda, the first housing cooperative built in Barcelona, and its architectural definition. Once the property is at stake and the focus is on use, the requests for the architecture change. In the case of La Borda, the housing need motivation was also challenged by the transition towards sustainability, in the broadest way possible: political, social, economic and environmental.

Cristina Gamboa Masdevall is a chartered architect and teacher. She studied at the Barcelona School of Architecture ETSAB / UPC, and the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning / University of Stuttgart. Cristina is co-founder of Lacol, a cooperative of architects established in 2014 in Barcelona, where she has focused on researching participative approaches to design and developing cooperative housing and housing policies, tested in on-going projects.

Guest Seminar: Jingru Cyan Cheng

Home: A Project for Rural China

Date: 22/02/2019
Time: 10:00-13:00
Venue: 4 Morwell Street, First Floor, Projective Cities Studio Space.

Jingru (Cyan) Cheng obtained both PhD by Design (2018) and M.Phil Projective Cities (2014) at the Architectural Association (AA) and was the co-director of AA Wuhan Visiting School 2015-17. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Royal College of Art. Her research interests lie in the intersections between disciplines, especially shared ideas and methods by architecture, anthropology and sociology, with a focus on socio-spatial models in China. Employing the design research method, her PhD thesis focuses on rurality as a spatial question at levels of territory, settlement and household. Cyan’s research on Care and Rebellion: The Dissolved Household in Contemporary Rural China received a commendation from RIBA President’s Awards for Research 2018. 

Caption: The Yard in Liu Brothers’ Family House, Shigushan Village, 2016 (Photo & Collage by Jingru Cyan Cheng). 

Guest Seminar: Elia Zenghelis

Date: 06/02/2019
Time: 10:00-13:00
Venue: 32 Bedford Square, First Floor Back.

Elia Zenghelis studied and taught at the AA from 1956 to 1987. Co-founder of OMA with Rem Koolhaas in 1975 and partner until 1987, when he established Gigantes Zenghelis Architects in Athens. He has taught Advanced Studio at Yale School of Architecture from 2013 to the present. Recipient of the Annie Spink Award for excellence in education in 2000.

Caption: Elia Zenghelis, Zoe Zenghelis. Hotel Sphinx Project, New York, New York (Axonometric), 1975-76. Synthetic Polymer paint and ink on paper, (46.7 x 55.9 cm). MoMA.  

Future Homes for London: Alternate Models

Organised by the Royal College of Art, St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust, Haringey, The Architecture Foundation, Baylight Foundation and Projective Cities

Dates: Friday 13th and Saturday 14th April 2018
Venue: Lecture Theatre One, Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU (entrance via Jay Mews)        

The objective of these series of events over two days is to pull apart and question alternate models of affordable and community-led housing projects for the UK. Using global exemplars – from Swiss projects based on nineteenth century co-operative legal structures such as Kraftwerk I and Mehr als Wohnen in Zurich, new Spanish co-operatives addressing community ageing (La Borda), to the Nightingale structure developed within the specific legal and financial constraints of Australian law – this event will ask what, within the context of the UK, is possible? What works and why, and how do we learn from other places, recognizing the specificity of our legal jurisdiction, financial structures, and cultural limitations?

Future Homes for London: Alternate Models will discuss: case studies and precedents; the consequences of different legal frameworks; co-operative models and land tenure systems in relationship to participation, ongoing management, and governance; the financing of housing projects – patient capital and the perception of risk; procurement structures; and the role of architecture, especially in negotiating difference productively through design.

Participants will hear from those developing, building, designing, leading and living in new projects globally and learn from their experience of delivering alternate housing.

Day 1: Global Precedents of Community-led and -owned Housing

Date: 13th April 2018

Often policy makers and developers see ‘community led’ as no more than glorified consultation, or as a way to navigate the planning process. Communities often talk of ‘community led’, but really mean full community control of housing and amenities. This can include the design process, full ownership of the property on completion, who lives in the development, rental and sales prices fixed in perpetuity by covenants in ownership contracts, and ongoing management. To make it more than just a place where people live, can community groups actively build communities as well as housing – where we might replace the term housing with the notion of civil society? This is not uncommon in other parts of the world. Why do we continue to wait for someone’s permission to do it here in the UK?

Common to many of the international projects that will be discussed is the role of the design process in the negotiation of difference amongst co-operative members and the coming into form of the project. Here, co-operative members navigating competing desires and ambitions for a project are innovating the shared spaces and amenities of multi-residential housing projects, moving away from the usual one two and three bedroom apartments sent to market by developers. These are projects either led by architects, or that involve co-op members who are architects.

The series of presentations are from architects and housing activists operating globally. They will deal with processes, give stories and accounts of specific projects, and speak about experiments in new, shared amenity at the scale of the building block and the dwelling unit.

9:30 Welcome by Adrian Lahoud (Dean, School of Architecture, RCA)
9:35 Introduction by Tony Wood (StART)
9:45 Introduction to Day 1 Tarsha Finney (RCA)
10:00-13.00: International Case Studies Part 1
    – Cristina Gamboa (Lacol), La Borda, Barcelona
    – Jeremy McLeod (Breathe Architecture), The Commons, Melbourne
    – Silvia Carpaneto (Carpaneto Schöningh Architekten), Coop Housing, Berlin (tbc)
    – Christoph Schmidt (ifau), R50, Berlin (tbc)
    – Christian Roth (Zanderroth Architekten), BIGyard, Berlin (tbc)
    – Claudia Thiesen (Mehr Als Wohnen), Kraftwerk I, Zurich
13:00-14:00 Lunch break
14.00-15.30:  International Case Studies Part 2
     – Jeremy McLeod: The Nightingale Principle, Melbourne.
    – Paul Karakusevic: Camden/New York
16.00-18.00: Panel Discussion 
    Discussion of participation, conflict, negotiation, and constituting community. 
    Clarifying relationships and terms between community and housing development and national contexts.
– Tony Wood (StART)
– Paul Karakusevic (Karakusevic Carson Architects)
– Catherine Harrington (Director, National CLT Network)
– Jeremy McLeod
– Claudia Thiesen
– Cristina Gamboa
– Stephen Hill (National CLT Network and UK Cohousing Network)
Chaired by Tarsha Finney (RCA)

Day 2: The UK Context: Community Control and Financing of Housing

Date: Saturday 14th April 2018

Until recently the general narrative has been ‘the market will provide’ when it comes to house building but this strategy is a failure for most people. Recently, the delivery of genuinely affordable and community-led housing has risen up the political agenda and raises a series of questions: What is genuinely affordable and who should housing be owned and managed by? What constitutes and legitimises a community to take control of housing projects? How are alternate models of housing to be scaled up to match the UK housing demand and what financing and procurement models are needed? Can public and private capital work with community organisations and philanthropy to achieve this?

The second day will be framed by StART, a group of local residents and workers who have initiated a community-led and transparent process for a 800-unit housing development in Haringey that puts local people in control, with the aim to provide genuinely affordable housing.

10:00: Welcome by Adrian Lahoud (Dean, School of Architecture, RCA)
10.05: Introduction by Tony Wood (StART)
10:15-12:45: Community Control: What Could It Look Like?
    – Vanessa Rickett (StART)
    – Sphen Hill (National CLT Network and UK Cohousing Network)
    – Dinah Roake (Atlas, Homes and Communities Agency)
    Chaired by Adrian Lahoud (RCA)
12:45-13:30: Lunch
13:30-16:00: How Do We Fund Affordable Housing?
    – Marlene Barrett (StART)                       
    – Stephen Hill  (Director, C20 futureplanners) tbc
    – Frances Northrop (Consultant, NEF/Co-ops UK Community Economic Development Programme)
    – Pete Gladwell (Head of Public Sector Partnerships, Legal & General Investment Management)  
    Chaired by Paul Karakusevic (Karakusevic Carson Architects)
16:30-18:30 The Future of Community-led Housing
    Hosted by The Architecture Foundation
    – Annabel Kennedy (StART)
    – Chris Brown (Executive Chair, igloo Regeneration)
    – Jeremy McLeod (Breathe Architecture)
    – Claudia Thiesen (Mehr Als Wohnen)
    – Cristina Gamboa (Lacol)
    Chaired by Phineas Harper (Architecture Foundation)

Graduate School Prize for Research

Congratulations to Alvaro Arancibia, former Projective Cities student, for winning the inaugural AA Graduate School Prize for Research for his PhD Thesis ‘The Social Re-Signification of Housing: A Design Guide for Santiago de Chile (2017). The PhD developed from his MPhil studies in Projective Cities.  

AAPC Guest Seminar: Charles Rice

Date: 24/01/2017
Time: 14:00
Venue: 32FFB

Charles Rice joined Projective Cities for a seminar on his new book Interior Urbanism: Architecture, John Portman and Downtown America

Vast interior spaces have become ubiquitous in the contemporary city. The soaring atriums and concourses of mega-hotels, shopping malls and transport interchanges define an increasingly normal experience of being ‘inside’ in a city. Yet such spaces are also subject to intense criticism and claims that they can destroy the quality of a city’s authentic life ‘on the outside’.

Interior Urbanism explores the roots of this contemporary tension between inside and outside, identifying and analysing the concept of interior urbanism and tracing its history back to the works of John Portman and Associates in 1960s and 70s America. Portman – increasingly recognised as an influential yet understudied figure – was responsible for projects such as Peachtree Center in Atlanta and the Los Angeles Bonaventure Hotel, developments that employed vast internal atriums to define a world of possibilities not just for hotels and commercial spaces, but for the future of the American downtown amid the upheavals of the 1960s and 70s.

The book analyses Portman’s architecture in order to reconsider major contexts of debate in architecture and urbanism in this period, including the massive expansion of a commercial imperative in architecture, shifts in the governance and development of cities amid social and economic instability, the rise of postmodernism and critical urban studies, and the defence of the street and public space amid the continual upheavals of urban development.

In this way the book reconsiders the American city at a crucial time in its development, identifying lessons for how we consider the forces at work, and the spaces produced, in cities in the present.

John Portman and Associates, Peachtree Center, Atlanta, 1961–2009. Diagram showing major interior spaces, vertical cores and pedestrian connections. Darker shaded areas indicate skybridges above streets. Drawing by Alina McConnochie.

AAPC Guest Seminar: Tom Avermaete

Date: 27/4/2016
Time: 14:00
Venue: 37 FFF

The Infrastructure of Bare Life: Architectural Perspectives for and from the Global South

Ecochard

Michel Ecochard, The 8×8 Grid of Housing, Morocco, 1950s

“a continuous network of centers and lines of communication [in which] all parts of the settlement and all lines of communication will be interwoven into a meaningful organism.”[1]

This is how the Greek architect Constantinos Doxiadis described his city of the future. In 1972, Doxiadis published photographs of a spider’s web before and after the animal had been drugged with amphetamines. The distorted organization of the doped spider was equated with a map showing “the chaos of networks” in the urban Detroit area.[2] On the basis of this visual analogy Doxiadis argues that the role of the architect is no longer limited to a simple ‘form giver’ but also includes that of a coordinator of various infrastructural networks: “We must coordinate all of our Networks now. All networks, from roads to telephones.”[3] Doxiadis’ project for Detroit consequently is a negotiation between the existing chaotic arrangement and a well-structured regional geometry of underground infrastructural networks of transportation and utilities. His proposal for the Detroit area echoes earlier planning experiences in Africa and the Middle East, where Doxiadis established a profound expertise on the role of an architecture of infrastructure for future urban development.

This seminar is based on a double point of departure. First, it argues that much of the conceptions of infrastructure that we hold in architectural discourse remain largely based on Western experiences and categories. The majority of the reflections on the architecture-infrastructure nexus are firmly located in the urban experience of North America and Western Europe. They are part of a canonical tradition where new approaches are produced in the crucible of a few ‘great’ cities: historical cities such as Paris, Berlin and Vienna and modern metropoli such as New York and Chicago – cities inevitably located in Euro-America. However, this paper holds that it is time to rethink the list of ‘great’ cities. Urban development already lays elsewhere: in the megalopoli of the global South, in cities such as Karachi, Dakar and Casablanca. Can the experiences with infrastructure in these cities reconfigure the heartland of architectural and urban thinking?

Second, this seminar claims that the architectural thinking on infrastructure gained an unprecedented impetus in the decades after the Second World War. In the context of the international debates about development the notion of infrastructure became a label for the technical-political systems that were required for growth and modernization. This new understanding of infrastructure, during the so-called ‘development decade’, had also a profound impact on the discourse and practice of architects. I argue that the debates about development aid shifted attention from a technical concern with infrastructure towards one framed more in terms of the integrative capacities. Infrastructure came to be understood as the integrator of social, economical and cultural factors, but also of formal and constructive considerations. Moreover, housing and houses came to be looked upon as the most fundamental infrastructure off all; an “infrastructure of bare life”. The development decade saw the emergence of an understanding of the house as an infrastructural dispositive, with multiple social, cultural, economic and political meanings attached to it.

The seminar will look into the approaches to this ‘infrastructure of bare life’ in the work of three protagonists of this development decade. First, the German architect and planner Otto Koenigsberger, who wrote retrospectively for the Ford Foundation the book Infrastructure Problems of the Cities of Developing Countries.[4] Second, the French architect and urban planner Michel Ecochard, who developed with his approach of the ‘trame urbaine’ a way to minimally coordinate different infrastructural layers of the city in the figure of the house and applied this in various contexts in the Global South.[5] Third, the Greek architect and planner Constantinos Doxiadis, who conceived of infrastructure networks of housing as a ‘firm foundation’ for the multiple new towns he designed for the Middle East and Africa and who afterwards applied his approach in many places in the Global North –amongst others in a threefold study of Detroit that he developed for the Detroit Edison Company between 1964 and 1972.[6]

This seminar argues that the experiences of these three protagonists in the Global South offer a fertile basis to reconsider some of the prime characteristics and potentials of infrastructure in the domain of architecture. The discourse and practice of Koenigsberger, Ecochard and Doxiadis suggest an alternative threefold definition which conceives of infrastructure as:

  • a guide of urban growth, which is not a container but an active enabler of urban development;
  • a social armature, which regulates the balance between collective interest and self-reliance in the built environment;
  • a ‘commons’, understood as a resource to the city and its citizens that is co-produced and reproduced on an everyday basis.

In conclusion this seminar argues that these definitions have forged historically a particular conception of the relation between architecture and infrastructure, at the verge of questioning the limits between both. These conceptions for and from the Global South might offer today a fresh alley to rethink the possible characteristics and roles of the ‘infrastructure of bare life’.

[1] C. A. Doxiadis, Ecumenopolis: Towards a Universal Settlement, Document R-GA 305 (Athens: Athens Technological Institute, June 1963), 116.
[2] C. A. Doxiadis, “The Two-Headed Eagle: From the Past to the Future of Human Settlements,” Ekistics 33 (May 1972): 406–20.
[3] C. A. Doxiadis, “The Two-Headed Eagle,” 418.
[4] O. H. Koenigsberger, Infrastructure Problems of the Cities of Developing Countries (New York: International Urbanization Survey, Ford Foundation, 1971)
[5] M. Ecochard, Le Problème Des Plans Directeurs D’urbanisme Au Sénégal: Documents Présentés Au Conseil National De L’urbanisme, Dakar, Le 7 Octobre 1963 (Dakar: Secretariat d’Etat au plan et au développement, Aménagement du territoire, 1963
[6] C. A. Doxiadis. Emergence and Growth of an Urban Region: the Developing Urban Detroit Area; a Study. 1. Analysis (Detroit, Mich: Detroit Edison, 1966); C. A. Doxiadis. Emergence and Growth of an Urban Region: the Developing Urban Detroit Area; a Study. 2. Future Alternatives (Detroit, Mich: Detroit Edison, 1966) and C. A. Doxiadis. Emergence and Growth of an Urban Region: the Developing Urban Detroit Area; a Study. 3. A Concept for Future Development (Detroit, Mich: Detroit Edison, 1966).

Tom Avermaete is full professor of architecture at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. He has a special research interest in the public realm and the architecture of the city in Western and non-Western contexts. With the chair of Methods and Analysis he focuses on the changing roles, approaches and tools of architects. His research examines precedents -design attitudes, methods and instruments- with the explicit ambition to construct a critical base of design knowledge and to influence contemporary architectural thinking and practice.

Avermaete is the author of Another Modern: the Post-War Architecture and Urbanism of Candilis-Josic-Woods (2005), The Balcony (with Koolhaas, 2014) and Casablanca -Chandigarh: Reports on Modernity (with Casciato, 2014). He is a co-editor of Architectural Positions (with Havik and Teerds, 2009), Colonial Modern (with von Osten and Karakayali, 2010), Structuralism Reloaded (with Vrachliotis, 2011), Making a New World (with Heynickx, 2012), Architecture of the Welfare State (with Swenarton and Van den Heuvel, Routledge, 2014) and Casablanca-Chandigarh: Reports on Modernization (with Casciato, Park Books, 2015).

Contemporary Urban Design Education

Alvaro Arancibia Tagle, Cité Housing in Santiago de Chile (AA P

Alvaro Arancibia Tagle, Cité Housing in Santiago de Chile (Projective Cities, 2013)

Date: 10/2/2016
Time: 10:20 am to 6:30 pm
Venue: Lecture Hall

The symposium organised by the Projective Cities programme brings together urban educators to discuss how new practices and research have changed urban design conventions and disciplinary assumptions. This is a discussion not only important to urban researchers, but all architects involved in the different scales of designing the built environment.

While the term ‘urban design’ originates from a conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1956, this was not the first time that the urban was defined as a problem arising between planning and design. Ildefons Cerdà already recognised this a century earlier when coining the term ‘urbanisation’. Also, rather than considering urban design as an academic field with practical orientation that operates between architecture, landscape architecture and planning as an inter-, intra, multi- or cross-disciplinary practice, what if its value is not a management of differences, but the instrumentalisation of conflicts?

The resurgence of urban design education and research is only partially explained by global urbanisation, or the failure of other design disciplines to make meaningful claims to ‘urbanism’. Contemporary urban research challenges the commonly held belief that the urban requires a homogenising intervention and process. The approach of unifying the urban through ideas of place-making, nostalgia for past public spaces, or the codification of ‘good’ urban form is no longer tenable. Instead, richer multi-scalar design research enquiries are emerging, which, for example, make a simultaneous consideration of domesticity, typology, morphology, infrastructure and territory possible. A particular strength of urban design hereby is a framing of abstract contexts such as policy, legal frameworks and planning through considerations of specific constituencies, urban plans, design frameworks, design proposals and physical implementation.

The symposium seeks to clarify how teaching and research methodologies can have a relevance and impact on urban practices and design.

PROGRAMME
10:20 am     Welcome (Sam Jacoby, AA Projective Cities)
10:30 am     ‘Representative Cities’, Ingrid Schröder (Cambridge University)
11:10 am     ‘Urban Design in China: Practice and Challenges’, Dr Fei Chen (University of Liverpool)
11:50 am     ‘The New Urban Professional’, Prof Diego Ramírez-Lovering (Monash University)
12:30 pm     Round table discussion (chair Prof Peter Bishop, UCL)

Lunch Break

2:00 pm     ‘Private Investigations’, Prof Alexander Lehnerer (ETH)
2:40 pm     ‘Propositions for Urban Design Research’, Dr Sam Jacoby (AA)
3:20 pm     ‘Architecture of Territory’, Prof Milica Topalovic (ETH)
4:00 pm     ‘Scales as Pedagogy’, Dr Adrian Lahoud (RCA) 
4:40 pm     ‘Linking the Physical to the Social’, Prof Ricky Burdett (LSE)
5:30 pm     Round table discussion (chair Tarsha Finney, UTS)

SPEAKERS

Peter Bisphop is an urban planner and urban designer. He is a director at Allies and Morrison and Professor of Urban Design at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. His interest lies in the strategies and approaches that can be employed to shape cities within the social, economic and political forces that operate. For over 20 years Peter was Planning director in four Central London Boroughs and worked on major projects including the Kings Cross railway land developments. In 2006, he was appointed as the first Director of Design for London, the Mayor’s architecture and design studio; and in 2008 as the Deputy Chief Executive at the London Development Agency.

Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and director of LSE Cities and the Urban Age Programme. He is a member of the UK Government’s Independent Airports Commission and a member of Council of the Royal College of Art in London. Burdett was Visiting Professor in Urban Planning and Design at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University in 2014 and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University from 2010 to 2014. He has been involved in regeneration projects across Europe and was Chief Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism for the London 2012 Olympics and architectural adviser to the Mayor of London from 2001 to 2006. Burdett was also a member of the Urban Task Force which produced a major report for the UK government on the future of English cities. He is editor of The Endless City (2007), Living in the Endless City (2011) and Innovation in Europe’s Cities (2015). Burdett acts as an adviser to national, regional and local governments on urban issues, and has worked with private companies and architectural practices on the development and framing of urban projects.

Fei Chen is a senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool. She was trained as an architect and urban designer at the University of Bath and Southeast University, China. She received her PhD on Chinese urbanism from the University of Strathclyde. Chen was previously a researcher working on the AHRC funded project ‘Sensory Urbanism’ in Strathclyde and is the co-founder and convenor of the ‘Urban Morphology and Representation Research Network’ under IAPS.

Tarsha Finney is an architect and urbanist, holding the position of senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research interests cross several areas: domesticity and the problem of multi-residential housing with specific knowledge of the cities of New York, Beijing and Sydney; architectural typology and notions of disciplinary specificity and autonomy; and the architectural urbanism of innovation in cities.

Sam Jacoby is a chartered architect with an AA Diploma and a doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin. Jacoby has worked for architectural and planning offices in the UK, USA and Malaysia. He has taught at the AA since 2002 and is currently the director of the Projective Cities programme.

Adrian Lahoud is an architect, researcher and educator. Prior to being appointed Dean of the School of Architecture and Head of the Architecture programme at the Royal College of Art, Adrian Lahoud was Director of the Urban Design Masters at The Bartlett School of Architecture and served as Director of the MA programme at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths. He received his PhD from the University of Technology Sydney where he taught for a number of years while running an award winning architectural practice. His dissertation titled ‘The City, the Territory, the Planetary’ explores the way architecture structures problems through the concept of scale. He has written extensively on questions of climate change, spatial politics and urban conflict with a focus on the Arab world and Africa. 

Alex Lehnerer, an architect and urban designer, currently holds a position as assistant professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Prior to that he was based in Chicago, where he was a professor at the University of Illinois. He received his PhD from ETH Zurich, his MArch from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), is partner of the firm Kaisersrot in Zurich, and founded the Department of Urban Speculation (DeptUS) in Chicago. Together with Savvas Ciriacidis he is leading the architectural office Ciriacidis Lehnerer Architekten in Zurich.

Diego Ramírez-Lovering is Head of the Department of Architecture at Monash University. He has taught and practiced architecture in Australia, Italy and Mexico. His teaching and research examine the contributory role that architecture can play in addressing the significant challenges facing contemporary urban environments – climate change, resource limitations, rapid population growth and changing household demographics. His practice based PhD focused on these contemporary urban issues through the platform of affordable and sustainable housing. He is the co-founder of Monash Architecture Studio (MAS). This research unit undertakes design-based research from the scale of dwelling to the scale of the city/region around a range of contextual issues in collaboration with researchers from other universities, government and industry.

Ingrid Schröder is a practicing architect and the founding Director of the Cambridge Design Research Studio. She has taught at the University of Cambridge since 2001 as a Design Tutor and Lecturer on Urban Theory. She previously taught at the Architectural Association and ETH Zurich. She has been directing the MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design/RIBA Part II programme since 2011. Her current projects in teaching, research and practice focus on the relationship between political thought, civic space and urbanism.

Milica Topalovic is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Territorial Planning at the ETH Department of Architecture. From 2011-15 she held research professorship at the ETH Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, studying the relationship between a city and its hinterland. In 2006 she joined the ETH as head of research at Studio Basel Contemporary City Institute and the professorial chairs held by Diener and Meili, where she taught research studios on cities and on territories such as Hong Kong and the Nile Valley. Milica graduated with distinction from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade and received a Master’s degree from the Berlage Institute for her thesis on Belgrade’s post-socialist urban transformation. Since 2000, she worked on projects in different spatial scales and visual media. With Studio Basel she authored and edited Belgrade. Formal / Informal: A Research on Urban Transformation, and The Inevitable Specificity of Cities.

2015 Final Presentations

Date: 29/5/2015
Time: 10am-6pm
Venue: Second Rear Presentation Space (36 Bedford Square)

Presentations of the final dissertations from the Projective Cities programme, featuring a lecture by Senan Abdelqader at 2pm.

SenanPhoto: Omar Abdelqader

Senan Abdelqader, architect and urban planner from Jerusalem talks about practicing in the occupied territories. He is principal of Senan Abdelqader Architects, established in 1995. Working on numerous private and public projects, he tries to influence and is influenced by social and political variables, and has created a public platform where the process of planning is considered to be a collective act and a space for civil practices. Senan started teaching at Tel-Aviv University in 1998 and founded the ‘in-formal’ unit at Bezalel Academy in 2006. In year 2011, he was a guest professor at the Dessau Institution of Architecture.

Reviewers: Pier Vittorio Aureli (AA), Peter Bishop (UCL), Oliver Domeisen (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna), Peg Rawes (UCL), Francisco Sanin (Syracuse Architecture, London) and Peter Swinnen (51N4E)

AAPC Guest Seminar: Andrew Higgott

Andrew Higgott will talk about his book Camera Constructs: Photography, Architecture and the Modern City. The book on the one hand opposes the medium of photography and the materiality of construction, but on the other can be read as saying that the camera invariably constructs what it depicts. The photograph is not a simple representation of an external reality, but constructs its meaning and reconstructs its subject. The starting point of many of the authors in the book is to analyse this condition and illuminate its processes: the photographic practices of the artist, of the architect and of the documentarist are each seen to construct images highly specific in their context and meaning.

camera-constructs---web-806x1024

Date: 18/5/2015
Time: 14:00
Venue: 37 Bedford Square

Andrew Higgott has taught the history and theory of architecture for the past twenty five years, primarily at the Architectural Association and at the University of East London, where he co-ordinated architectural history and theory teaching and ran an MA course on architectural theory. Over the past year  he has lectured at Cornell University, the Bartlett School, Royal College of Art and elsewhere. 

He is the author of Mediating Modernism (2007) and co-edited Camera Constructs (2012). 

AAPC Guest Lecture: Alex Lehnerer

Professor Alex Lehnerer (ETH) will be giving a guest lecture:

Architecture’s Present Perfect

The present perfect blurs the gap between past and present. Everything is up to now—nothing is left behind. The present perfect stands for an expression of unfinished time. Unfinished time started in the past and continues into the present. There is no quarantine period between historical facts and contemporary truth. Architecture is a form of presence, yet its history always plays a key role in both its production and interpretation. At best its history is told in the present perfect tense by means of projective speculation to establish a strong, yet individual, and ad hoc connection between then and now.

Alex is looking for such strong – sometimes constructed – genealogical, idea-based, and conceptual connections between the past and the present by talking about a couple of his projects addressing collective form through the attempt of an alternative historical approach. Among them the project of the German Pavilion at the 14. International Architecture Biennale in Venice, his recently published book “The Western Town – A Theory of Aggregation”, and his work on Urban Rules.

Date: 12/3/2015, Time: 18:00, Venue: Lecture Hall

bungalow germania

Bungalow Germania by Alex Lehnerer and Savvas Ciriacidis, 14th Architecture Exhibitionat the Venice Biennale 2014

Alex Lehnerer, an architect and urban designer, currently holds a position as assistant professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Prior to that he was based in Chicago, where he was a professor at the University of Illinois, School of Architecture. He received his PhD from ETH Zurich and his MArch from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). Together with his partner Savvas Ciriacidis he is leading the Zurich based architecture practice CIRIACIDISLEHNERER. In 2014, the two were the general commissioners of the German pavilion at the 14. International Architecture Biennale in Venice. 

Type versus Typology

AA Projective Cities Symposium 2014
During the nineteenth century, a deliberate turn away from ideas of imitation and truth-to-nature towards concepts of abstraction or objectivity emerged and fundamentally altered the knowledge and practices of many disciplines. In architecture, this important shift resulted in theories of type and design methods based on typology, complementary concepts through which architecture as both a modern form of knowledge and knowledge of form was to be consolidated. In terms of architecture and its instrumentality, type and typology are unique as disciplinary frames through which broader socio-political, cultural and formal problems can be posed.

The one day symposium will bring together academics and practitioners to discuss the potential of type and typology and the problem of the historicity of disciplinary knowledge.

Date: Friday 7/2/2014
Time: 10am-9pm
Venue: Lecture Hall, Architectural Association, 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES

Watch symposium online: Part 1 (Session 1+2) and Part 2 (Session 3)

Rafael-Moneo_Projective_Cities_Symposium©AF_2014_02_08_001-584x437

Rafael Moneo. Photo: Alexander Furunes

PROGRAMME

SESSION 1
10:00‐10:10     Welcome (Sam Jacoby)
10:10‐10:50     Sam Jacoby (AAPC): ‘Typal and Typological Reasoning’
10:50‐11:30     Lawrence Barth (AA)
11:30‐12:10     Hyungmin Pai (University of Seoul): ‘The Diagrammatic Construction of Type’
12:10‐12:40     Discussion: Chaired by Alvaro Arancibia (AA PhD) and Cyan Cheng (AAPC)
13:00‐14:00     Lunch Break

SESSION 2
14:00‐14:40     Philip Steadman (UCL): ‘Building Types and How they Change over Time’
14:40‐15:20     Tarsha Finney (UTS): ‘The Typological Burden’
15:20‐16:00     Christopher Lee (Harvard GSD, Serie Architects): ‘The Fourth Typology’
16:00‐16:30     Discussion: Chaired by Naina Gupta (AAPC), Simon Goddard (AAPC), and Thiago Soveral (AA PhD)
17:00‐18:30     Coffee Break (Mark Cousins: Friday Lecture Series)

SESSION 3
18:30‐19:10     Rafael Moneo (Harvard GSD): ‘Type, Iconography, Archaeology, and Practice’
19:10‐20:00     Concluding Round Table: All speakers; chaired by Adrian Lahoud (UCL)

SPEAKERS

Lawrence Barth lectures on urbanism in the AAs Graduate School and has written on the themes of politics and critical theory in relation to the urban. He practises as a consultant urbanist, most recently collaborating with Zaha Hadid Architects and s333 Architecture and Urbanism on large‐scale projects, and is engaged in research on urban intensification and innovation environments.

Tarsha Finney is an architect, urbanist and a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). She completed an M.A at the AA (Distinction 2002‐2003) and was recipient of the Michael Ventris Memorial Award (2003). From 2004‐2008 as part of the doctoral program at the AA, she was a participant in research seminars led by Lawrence Barth: Rethinking Architectural Urbanism 2006‐2007; Transformation and Urban Change 2007‐2008. She is completing her Doctorate at UTS, Domains of Reasoning/Fields of Effect: The Housing Project and the City. New York, 1960‐1980.

Sam Jacoby is a chartered architect who graduated from the AA, and received a doctorate from the TU Berlin. He teaches at the AA since 2002 and has taught at the University of Nottingham and Bartlett School of Architecture. He has directed Projective Cities since 2009.

Christopher Lee is the co‐founder and principal of Serie Architects London, Mumbai and Beijing. He is Associate Professor in Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Prior to that he was the Director of Projective Cities (2010‐12) and AA Unit Master (2002‐09). Lee graduated with the AA Diploma (Honours) and his Doctor of Philosophy from the Berlage Institute and TU Delft. Lee is the author of Common Frameworks: Rethinking the Developmental City in China, Part 1, Xiamen: The Megaplot, and Working in Series. He co‐authored Typological Formations: Renewable Building Types and the City, and ‘Typological Urbanism: Projective Cities’.

Rafael Moneo received undergraduate (1961) and doctoral (1965) degrees from the Madrid School of Architecture, worked (1960‐61) with Danish architect Jørn Utzon, and studied (1963‐65) at the Spanish Academy in Rome before opening (1965) his own practice in Madrid. Moneo, who founded (1968) Arquitectura Bis magazine, is also a noted theorist, critic, and teacher. He has taught in Spain and at such American institutions as Princeton and Harvard, where he was (1985‐90) head of the graduate architecture department and remains a professor. Among his many awards is the 1996 Pritzker Prize.

Hyungmin Pai graduated from Seoul National University and received his PhD from MIT. Twice a Fulbright Scholar, he is professor at the University of Seoul. He was visiting scholar at MIT and London Metropolitan University and has lectured at Harvard, Cornell and Tongji University. His books include The Portfolio and the Diagram (2006), Sensuous Plan: The Architecture of Seung HSang (2007), and The Key Concepts of Korean Architecture (2012). For the Venice Biennale, he was curator for the Korean Pavilion (2008) and a participant in the Common Pavilion project (2012). He was curator for the Kim Swoo Geun exhibition at Aedes Gallery, Berlin (2011) and was Head Curator for the 4th Gwangju Design Biennale (2011).

Philip Steadman is Emeritus Professor of Urban and Built Form Studies in the Bartlett Faculty of Built Environment, University College London. He trained as an architect at Cambridge University, and has taught at Cambridge, the Open University and UCL. Much of his research has been on the forms of buildings, and he has published two previous books on the subject: The Geometry of Environment (1971) and Architectural Morphology (1983). His book on biological analogies in architecture, The Evolution of Designs, was published in 1979. His forthcoming book Building Types and Built Forms (2014) brings together several of these themes: architectural history, building geometry, and parallels with the analysis of form in biology.

Graduate Honours 2013 Exhibition

The thesis project by Alvaro Arancibia (PC 2011-2013) will be shown in the first annual exhibition representing the work of high-achieving graduates from the AA Graduate School.

Alvaro Arancibia Model Exhibition

Date: 18/1/2014 – 15/2/2014
Time: Monday to Friday 10:00–19:00, Saturday 10:00–15:00, unless otherwise stated.
Venue: Graduate Gallery (AA, 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES)