Peter Cook - The Happy Volcano: A Description of the I deal Architecture School

image This page is one part of the feature : "Redefining Education in the 21st Century "

Peter Cook

Architectural education, for Peter Cook, is fragile. It has to be treated with sensitivity and intelligence. He brought the AA a gift: a cheerful 'English chat ', communicating some thoughts about the School through the voices of imaginary international students and teachers. On the unit system, Lisa (a 'gorgeous 'short-haired lady) thinks, 'It has been here for more than 30 years. That 's not good '. On theory and design, Hank (an extremely literate and serious young man)says Histories and Theories should have their own studio: 'Theory has really to be tested '.On making, Otto (a student who enjoys a position between the academic and the designer)stresses the importance of the workshops in the building: 'They are in the tradition of materialisation '.

In his talk, Peter highlighted some key aspects and potentials of the AA: its internationalism and its networks.' The AA must remember its traditions of entrepreneurship ', he said, using the metaphor of setting up AA franchise shops in various places –Kingsland Road, Taipei, New York. The AA must also remember that it has, and should continue to have, style. It should rediscover the benefits of the 'English chat 'as a way of moving 'around 'the discussion of architectural matter. On location, Peter compared the AA to an aircraft. The AA is in England but it is also insulated – should it be? On educational operation, he underlined the most magical part for him: 'the teacher should learn from the students '.

From his long-term experience, Peter said, it was important for architecture students to gain external recognition for their work. Doing lovely experiments in school was not enough: the work had also to be marketable. Students should have something equivalent to an AA credit card (of knowledge) in their pockets.

To summarise, he presented diagrams of the 'school of the School ', putting his comments into four charts and one building. His Kunsthaus in Graz can serve as the strong analogy of the 'school of the School '–an exemplar of the 'English chat 'for Peter, the architect who knows the business of teaching perfectly well.

Chittawadi Chitrabongs

Mark Cousins adds:

We had originally decided that each evening lecture should be reviewed by a member of the School Community. While this proved possible in most cases, for Peter 's contribution it was surely impossible. He had fabricated a complete fictional world of architecture teachers, students and projects which performed the immense service of showing the informal ways in which an architecture community influences itself. Not only a story but one complete with slides. In violating the rules of these lectures, Peter constructed and delivered a fully crafted gift, for which we are grateful.
Apr 18, 05 8:18 pm

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