Cities are driven by confrontation and divergence. Technological change, migrations, heightened mobility, evolving demographics, and more, all create challenges for cities hoping to shape their futures in positive ways. Architecture plays a unique role in enabling cities to face uncertainty and make effective decisions. It enables emerging ideas to gain traction, extend their scope, inspire stakeholders with a sense of promise, and at the same time, architecture encourages new partnerships and a sense of cooperative pursuit. Housing and Urbanism focuses on the drivers of urban change across multiple scales – from the dwelling to the metropolitan region – and gives students the opportunity to integrate their project work with a well-founded understanding of the urban process and contemporary international practice.
The Programme offers both a 12-month MA and a 16-month MArch, and each of these are structured around a common Design Workshop, supported by lecture and seminar courses, leading to individual theses. In the case of the MA, the thesis emphasises analysis and critique of current approaches to common challenges, while the MArch develops critique through prospective design reasoning and the pursuit of a comprehensive project. In both degree streams, students are expected to commit themselves to research, to develop a well-rounded perspective, and deliver work that is both critical and synthetic. The challenge of this ambition is heightened by the tendency of the Programme to emphasise complex problems without well-agreed solutions: in Latin American and southern Asian cities we have a long tradition of engaging with the productive evolution of informal settlements; in London, we have emphasised the improvement of services and proliferation of workspace as conjoined ambitions of residential intensification. Across all our themes, we employ architecture to deepen and extend students’ understanding of the implications and challenges of urban transformation.
The primary urban laboratory for the programme is London, whose tremendous energy and diversity allow faculty and students to explore the broadest range of urban conditions. In addition, H&U ventures abroad twice each year. Our study trip to Berlin in the Autumn Term included a symposium organised together with the University of Nottingham and the TU Berlin on the topic, “Building Knowledge Neighbourhoods,” and our urban explorations emphasised close study of the architecture of the well-integrated and adaptive city. Our second trip each year brings H&U together with a host government and university in a knowledge exchange programme structured around an intensive workshop. This past year, in Bogotá with their city government and the Universidad de Los Andes, our theme was to link future mobility with heightened services and the pursuit of more robust and successful networks of production.
AA H&U Faculty: