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Architectural Association (Kirk)

 

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Apr '09 - Mar '10

 
  • [AAPhD] Back from the PhDead

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    [Image: View over Hackney on emerging from winter hibernation; photo by Kirk Wooller].

    It’s well over four months since my last post. Shameful, I know. Seems like the final push to finish the PhD (submitting tomorrow) really did result in my winter hibernation. Though I did manage to poke my head out once in a while to keep a short grasp on reality. And looking back over my calendar it certainly has been an interesting few months at the AA (old news, so I’ll run through it fast)…

    November saw AA Director Brett Steele (up for re-election) outline his vision for the next five years. After much student-led debate (AA staff remained, for the most part, as sideline observers), which saw many good issues and concerns raised, he was re-elected with a clear majority (74% from a 68% voter turnout). Mark Wigley and Jeff Inaba’s visit saw a Volume-led roundtable discussion on the issue of storytelling in architecture, brilliantly supported by Tom McCarthy (author of ‘Remainder’) and Dave McKean (filmmaker). I missed the AA Christmas party, but did manage to present my research at a graduate seminar in the MA (H&T) programme (an early practice run at defence). The New Year saw the long-awaited launch of AA Words 1 (after issues 2 through 5 had already hit the shelves) with a retroactive backstory and afterword that nicely supplements a somewhat lacklustre performance between Rem Koolhaas and Peter Eisenman four years prior (which kick-starts the issue and series). The PhD Lounge had a well-needed makeover (managed with a budget equating to 2% of one PhD student’s annual fees). Students across the School rightfully got up in arms over the announcement of larger than usual fee hikes (said PhD fees are up 8% from last year, in a 2% inflation economy). The PhD Committee accepted our request to have student representation at the PhD Committee Meetings that happen once a term - a welcomed effort to facilitate more effective communication between the programme and its students. The AA Film Club kicked off, making superb use of the new mini-theatre installed in #38 (complete with three rows of salvaged theatre seats). Skipped the Peter Eisenman lecture. Caught a few of Mark Cousins’ annual talks entitled ‘The Neighbour’ (which “consider arguments in the 20thC that cast doubt on the value of the idea of the neighbour as a guiding principle for ethics and for social solidarity […], analyses the way in which hostility and antagonism frequently erupt between neighbours, [and] links this to the continuing failure within architecture and urbanism to provide an alternative approach to human proximity” - all delivered with the phrasing and wit you come to expect from a Cousins’ lecture). And finally, Iain Sinclair (writer) kicked off the Public Occasion Agency student-led lecture series with a talk that I rate as one of my most enjoyable yet at the AA. Regrettably, I missed a few AA parties along the way, and some quality AA Bar-time, but in February I did manage to pick up a lecturing post at the University of Brighton - a sabbatical cover that will take me up to June, by which time I will have had my viva examination (doctoral defence) and, who knows, maybe some more news to post…

    Yours in doctoral delirium,

    -Kirk


  • [AAPhD] Tschumi Fireworks 1974/2009

    [Image: "Surfaces", Bernard Tschumi's 'Fireworks 1974/2009'; photo by Kirk Wooller]. For 35-year-old fireworks, Tschumi’s pyrotechnic display last Friday over the rooftops of the AA was pretty damn impressive. (Thought I get the feeling this wasn’t a completely authentic restaging of...


  • [AAPhD] Beyond

    [Image: Pedro Gadanho (Beyond editor), Sam Jacob, Liam Young and Colin Fournier; photo by Kirk Wooller]. Last night saw the UK launch of ‘Beyond’ - a new book series dedicated to experimental forms of architectural and urban writing - appropriately staged in the basement dining room...


  • [AAPhD] Mapping PhD Programmes in Architecture

    View PhD Programmes in Architecture in a larger map Ever wondered how many PhD programmes in architecture there are? Or even how many different types of doctoral programmes are on offer in various universities around the world? (1) If, like me, you find yourself asking these or similar questions...


  • [AAPhD] Plagiarism

    Turnitin Not too long ago I discovered the powerful internet-based plagiarism detection service called Turnitin. After a couple touch-and-go essay submissions from last year’s course I helped teach, I discovered that the AA is a (rather lax) subscribing member of Turnitin. So I promptly...


  • [AAPhD] AA Projects Review

    Below are a few photos from last night’s opening of the AA Projects Review. [Image: Bedford Square after graduation ceremony; photo by Kirk Wooller]. [Image: The infamous strawberry tables; photo by Kirk Wooller]. [Image: Paparazzi parents on graduation pride, with the Int. 2 "pavilion"...


  • [AAPhD] Designated Graffiti Area

    The PhD Programme exhibit (created by Emanuel de Sousa and yours truly) for this year's AA Projects Review plays on the tension between officially sanctioned architectural research (certified and library-catalogued AA PhD dissertations from the grand old days of yesteryear) and more recent...


  • [AAPhD] MA (H&T) Thesis Reviews

    [Image: MA (H&T) End of Year Thesis Reviews. Photo by Valerie Bennett]. In this manic part of the year (yes, here in the UK we are STILL in school), where every day there seems to be a new set of juries being run and your own work flounders as a result, the MA (Histories and Theories)...


  • [AAPhD] Colossal New Content for the AA Website?

    In an age of instant information, the evolution of content on the AA’s website has been, well… somewhat stagnate. There are some valid reasons, I am sure; short staffing seems to be a recurring one. So you can imagine my joy at receiving an email a couple days ago, forwarded from AA...


  • [AAPhD] Behind the Times

    While the AA’s free public programme of events was pretty damn good this year (including 10 symposiums and still counting...), the wealth of resulting video footage still gets tucked away in the AA Archives, for members only. Meanwhile, I see Columbia GSAPP has put its entire Spring...


  • [AAPhD] Peter Cook’s ‘Weird Shit Architecture’ and Other Thrilling Stories

    The provocative and self-proclaimed “deliberately naughty” Peter Cook kicked off the impressively varied line-up of speakers at last Friday’s symposium (the AA’s tenth this year) entitled, Thrilling Wonder Stories: Speculative Futures for an Alternate Present, which probed...


  • [AAPhD] Alcoholic Architecture

    At one time or another we've all talked in jest about the alcoholic association to our school's acronym (AA), but this time the joke's on us for not having the foresight to come up with something so radically redefining as the architecture of a walk-in cocktail. Genius. [Image: Alcholic...


  • [AAPhD] Eco Jihad

    I saw this on the way in to school today. Don’t know whether to be thrilled or terrified... [Images: emel: the muslim lifestyle magazine - at all leading supermarkets; photos by Kirk Wooller].


  • [AAPhD] Failure

    It is always interesting (perhaps even the most valuable) when an event makes you stop and think about things; to see things in a different light to how you normally would; even to perceive some thing that you had perhaps kept yourself from perceiving. It is of value not only because it makes you...


  • [AAPhD] Koolhaas on Post-Occupancy

    Let’s face it, seeing Koolhaas jump into bed with post-occupancy is like watching soft porn: to those that don’t like porn it is seen as despicable; to those that do it appears somewhat pathetic. Let me explain… [Image: Cover to AMO/Rem Koolhaas, Post-Occupancy (April 2006)...


  • [AAPhD] A Brief Post-Dialogues Debrief

    As I sat getting mild heatstroke on the AA terrace yesterday afternoon, I tried recalling the blur of events that, after 9 months, culminated in a most enjoyable and well received AA PhD Dialogues symposium - if only to relay some of the highs and lows to fellow Archinecters. Yet, as quickly as...


  • [AAPhD] AA Manifesto Beer Summit

    The fickle London weather was kind to visionaries last night, for the AA Manifesto: Ideology beer summit. Manifestos bellowed out over the terrace. The crowd was in full cheer. And many a beer was consumed. Time now to power through the hangover and prep for Friday’s symposium. [Image: Ines...


  • [AAPhD] Research by Colours, with Bob and Denise

    Not since the early 1990s have Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown lectured together at the AA, so Thursday’s talk was a big affair. [Image:Bob; photo by Valerie Bennett]. After a most flattering and lengthy introduction by Brett Steele, Bob took to the lectern to rapidly trace a...


  • [AAPhD] The Cult of Manifesto

    Summer term starts up on Monday and I received the Week 1 Events List last night. Was pleased to see that one of our manifesto posters is featured on the back cover. Yes, the cult of manifesto has returned to the AA. While our Director traces the way manifestos have shaped 20th century...


  • [AAPhD] In the know… finally

    [Image: HLAH; photo from KIWI Tabs (www.kiwitabs.derail.co.nz)]. Living without TV may sound a bit archaic, but it has its perks. Besides not getting the life sucked out of you at every available moment, it certainly frees up a lot of time to do slightly more productive things, like schoolwork...


  • [AAPhD] Anticipating the ‘Third Album’

    The long-awaited release of AA Files 57 (the ‘redesign’ issue) hit the stands back in December last year. By all accounts - particularly now that the follow-up issue is already in bookstores - any review of the new-look Files has surely ‘lost its currency’, as they say. But...


  • [AAPhD] The Family is Expanding

    The family of graduate programmes on offer at the AA is expanding. The new graduate design programme, AA Design + Make (AA D+M), a 16-month “site- and workshop-based programme”, has just been launched. Here’s a short blurb:Photo credit: Architectural Association “The AA...


  • [AAPhD] Editing / Writing

    Spring term is now over and the AA has locked its doors for the next two weeks. Rather than head ‘home’ (a strange concept when your family is scattered over a few different countries), I’m staying put in London. But the sun’s shining (for now) and the past few days have...


  • [AAPhD] Projects Review

    It’s still three months away, but if anyone plans to pass through London to check out the AA and its work, then there’s no better time to do it than in early July. For two weeks every year the AA holds its biggest annual showcase of AA work (and the largest marketing pitch to future...


  • [AAPhD] Kia ora / Hello

    [Image: Dawn over London; photo by Kirk Wooller]. Dawn over my London flat brings me another day closer to that once unfathomable task of completing my PhD. Yes, after nearly three years of hard slog (four, if you count the MA (Histories and Theories) that I did to kick-start it all), each day no...


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