[Hover over the 'Student Projects' button in the menu above to see the drop-down links to all slideshows of studio work from 2002-2010]
TENDER IS THE NIGHT
If London is one of the world’s most celebrated metropolises, then why does it go to bed so early? The great capital suffers from a Cinderella Syndrome: come midnight, its inhabitants frantically scurry to catch last trains and buses home. Apart from a few thumping super-clubs, London is an anti-24-hour city. This year’s AA Summer Architecture School will explore inventive and imaginative ways to exploit this unoccupied time – and its related spaces. Should libraries and museums fling open their doors to nightowls and transit tourists? What kind of city could be available for the thousands of workers who come out when the rest of us sleep? In a globalised world, night-time in one place is daytime somewhere else, meaning work and relationships are passed back and forth across time-zones seamlessly. Could a city outsource its night-time to somewhere else? And import daytime in return?
Is the age of bigness over as the world scales back its architectural and urban ambitions? After years of what seemed like incessant growth taking place from Bahrain to Bangalore, a radical slowdown sets a new pace of activity. This year’s AA Summer Architecture School—MINICITY—turns its attention to a reinvigorated examination of the micro and the modest: diminutive buildings, tiny projects and mini-inserts in small spaces. Can the city be understood as the aggregation of miniature moments instead of the heroic account that highlights gigantic iconic projects? While human achievement in the 20th century seemed to privilege the intergalactic (remember the space-race?), the 21st century places its great hopes in the ‘nano-’, whether it is increasingly powerful microprocessors or urgent housing needs for disaster victims around the world. Big isn’t necessarily always the biggest idea. The brief, intense course—based on the renowned AA Unit System—emphasises techniques of interpretation, recording, drawing, making and thinking through diverse media types, both analogue and digital.
LONDON EVER AFTER
Look out. Life is imitating art. What was once the domain of the disaster movie is fast becoming the real-life plot of our collective futures. From The Day After Tomorrow (eco-Armageddon) to I Am Legend (man-made viral pandemic); cities have become the ticking-time bombs of tomorrow. This year, the AA’s Summer Architecture School will focus on the forces—social, economic, ecological, technical—that might potentially conspire to bring about the city’s—and the world’s—end. Using London as an experimental laboratory of ideas and hypotheses, we will yield unexpected discoveries and innovative proposals. As more and more people move to cities than ever before, a figure that is set to rise to 70% of the global population in just 40 years time, what are the imminent and long-term emergency scenarios, and how might we either avert or design away the disasters? The brief, intense course—based on the renowned AA Unit System—emphasises techniques of interpretation, recording, drawing, making and thinking through diverse media types, both analogue and digital.
LIVE IT UP!
At the start of the 21st century, dreams of tall living are again the height of fashion. But this time around, it’s not the West leading the new wave, but the Middle and Far East. From Dubai to Shanghai, super-skyscrapers are new signatures of new economic shifts. London feels this pressure from beyond. The Mayor proposes that London’s skyline must become more visible in the global consciousness. And that this needs to happen sooner than later. But the history of tallness in Britain’s capital comes with traumatic baggage: from doomed Modernist social experiments to an ongoing battle with a nostalgic image of the past. This year, the Summer Architecture School studios will focus on the dreams and reality of London literally growing up: taller, higher, in the air, and even floating. LIVE IT UP will offer an array of creative and imaginative approaches on what it might mean to really liberate London from the obligation to obey the ground. Students will be asked to think about this issue from a number of perspectives: architectural, cultural, technological and political. The site under scrutiny will be the City of London and its wider environs, where built tallness has been widely accepted already. Clichés and stereotypes that equate tall with either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ will be fundamentally questioned through group research, design-led projects and a multitude of media including model-making, film narratives, video-gaming, super-graphics and guerrilla installations.
RECIPES FOR A FAST-FORWARD FUTURE
We may live in the present, but we dream of the future. Even though we know it’s a time elastically located ahead of us, The Future is also a place that is constantly re-drawn and re-imagined. Though nothing may date quite as fast as predictions on The Future, human progress would be nowhere without the will to project forwards into a time it doesn’t yet know of. RECIPES FOR A FAST-FORWARD FUTURE will continue the curiosity that has driven art, architecture, science, literature and cinema to make daring decrees about what the world will be like in tomorrow’s tomorrow. This year, The Summer Architecture School studios will work towards defining what the future of the 21st century may bring us. RECIPES FOR A FAST-FORWARD FUTURE will offer a variety of approaches focusing upon the architectural, cultural, technological and lifestyle issues that are at the heart of the distant Future: FutureFashion; FutureLiving; FutureGeography; FutureCity. Are we destined to fall back on history’s twin fetishes of the future – an idealized state of perfection or apocalyptic dystopia – or are new forward-looking visions still possible? RECIPES FOR A FAST-FORWARD FUTURE aims to confront these questions through focused group research and design-led projects.
QUICKSPACE / SLOWTIME
At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, mechanization firmly took control. The world was forever changed, and with it, our experience of space and of time altered irrevocably. Manual labour was too slow: so, let it die! Machines emancipated man, and hurled him into new frontiers of speed, combustion engines, exhaust pipes and the dictate of bomber jets. And where would all of this riotousness and restlessness take place? Undoubtedly: the Modern City. Today, at the dawn of the 21st century, is “the need for speed” embarrassingly outdated? In the desperate lunge to become all efficient, frictionless and fast, cities have, paradoxically, slowed down. Why own a car in 2005 London if the average speed in the city-centre is 10 miles per hour. That’s slower than a 19th century horse and cart. The Summer School design studios this year will explore, critique and manifest this push and pull between speed and slowness in the city of London. Quickspace / Slowtime will offer a variety of approaches focusing upon the architectural, cultural, technological and lifestyle issues affecting the metabolism of the city. Has our thirst to shorten the time between people and places – symbolized by faster airplanes and faster internet connections – generated a slower experience of reality? Why do escapist desires to slow down and drop out completely seem more popular than ever before? Quickspace / Slowtime aims to confront these questions through intensive group research and design-led projects.
SHINY and NEW
Looking back on the history of the future, two tendencies stand out the most. We were either hurtling forwards to worse times, in 1984 or Blade Runner, where the sun would never shine and we’d choke on the toxic air. Or, the future was most definitely brighter, whiter, cleaner and happier. In both scenarios, mechanization firmly took command. Shiny-new cars! Cheap plastic cutlery! And chrome toasters! The imaginary surface of the real future was cold to the touch and narcissistically reflective. And today? In an age faced with dizzying numbers of facial creams, TV channels, architectural styles and real fake designerwear, are we still seduced by upgrades? Due to faster speeds of technological obsolescence and renewal, the generation gap diminishes from a few decaedes to a few months. Blink and you might miss today’s fifteen minutes of need. Everything, you’re told, exists as part of an infinite chain of successive betterment. Will we remember yesterday? Do we really care if the future is bright or dull, as long as today is Shiny and New?
SUBLIME OBJECTS IN MOTION
The design studios will explore the Sublime Object In Motion as a supple body that effects and is affected by change. Using London as an experimental laboratory of effects, participants will investigate relationships and strategies; speeds and resistances; abstractions and materialities; the lurid and the tame – all at scales stretchng from the nano to the macro. When does an object become an environment or when does a city become an object? The summer studios, which are similar to the AA’s unit system, offer diverse design projects. Participants will dedicate themselves to specific agendas, techniques and results in an intensive and intimate environment. The aim is to engage participants in a collective effort to progress and expand formal and intellectual resources of research, innovation, and new methods of design.