Loose Operations: Architectural Association Visiting School

studio 3

Although generations of architects have defined their projects based on the relationship between ‘form’ and ‘program’, cities in transition tend to challenge accumulated theories and methods. Can we gain new design flexibility if we isolate, duplicate or mismatch the ways we currently treat form and content, envelope and organization? What if we deal only with nested functional structures or hollow decorative costumes, exchange compressed interiors and thick facades, or stage clashes between inner and outer cores?

Inspired by observed opportunistic conversions, remakes and transplants within post-Soviet Moscow, this workshop explored a ‘loose fit’ between how the building looks and how it operates. Using innovative conceptual and graphic approaches as introduced by staff from the Architectural Association in London, participants exaggerated and combined pragmatic inventions while making links between historical precedents and contemporary practices. Treating exterior and interior as two independent projects for the city, we put forward extreme scenarios for hybrid buildings that invert familiar attitudes towards expression, transparency and communication.

Participants learnt how to devise a ‘diagrammatic framework’ to reconcile different elements and systems of the city. Visual narratives, graphic provocations, composite drawings and phased models led towards final design prototypes for loose landmarks. Condensed into graphic catalogues and design manuals, our products navigated the issues of preservation, globalisation and adaptation.

All participants received an official certificate from the Architectural Association Visiting School upon completion.

Workshop moderators:

Eugene Han researches and develops systems for architecture and industrial design. He is currently a Diploma Unit Master, as well as the Department Head of Media Studies at the Architectural Association. His group, AVA-Studio, develops frameworks that integrate architecture with forms of computation. Projects range from applications for urban planning metrics in government sectors to the development of discreet tools for digital design production.

Maria Fedorchenko holds an M. A. from UCLA., an M. Arch. from Princeton University, and a Diploma in Architecture from Moscow Institute of Architecture (MArchI) She practiced architecture and urban design in the United States, Russia and Greece (including at Michael Graves and Associates). She co-directs Fedorchenko Studio since 1998 and runs an urban design consultancy. Since 2003, Maria has taught design studios and seminars at UC Berkeley, UCLA and California College of the Arts. She has been involved in History and Theory Studies and Housing & Urbanism Programmes, and currently leads a design unit at the Architectural Association. Art, designs and research have appeared in The International Journal of Constructed Environment, Architectural Theory Review, Salon Interior and Art of Russia, as well as conference proceedings and exhibitions. Current research focuses on diagrammatic methodologies for urban analysis and intervention as well as design systems that link formal and programmatic agendas.