Tainan Design Workshop

Housing & Urbanism staff:

Jorge Fiori, Hugo Hinsley, Lawrence Barth, Abigail Batchelor, Nicholas Bullock, Anna Shapiro, Elad Eisenstein, Dominic Papa, Elena Pascolo, Naiara Vegara, Alex Warnock-Smith.

The Housing and Urbanism Programme engages architecture with the challenges of contemporary urban strategies. Today’s metropolitan regions show tremendous diversity and complexity with significant global shifts in the patterns of urban growth and decline. Architecture has a central role to play in this dynamic context, developing far-reaching strategies and generating new urban clusters and types. The programme focuses on understanding important changes in the contemporary urban condition and showing how architectural intelligence can support constructive responses to these trends. We combine cross-disciplinary research with design application, and students’ work is divided among three equally important areas: design workshops; lectures and seminars; and a dissertation or design thesis which allows students to develop an extended and focused study synthesizing design and urban research.

The programme offers a 12-month MA course, and a 16-month MArch course. While MA students conclude with the submission of a written analytical dissertation showing conceptual and theoretical grasp of a problem in architectural urbanism, MArch students submit a design thesis demonstrating a comprehensive design response to an urban challenge

The programme is closely allied with both research and contemporary architectural practice. Current themes include the urbanism of the innovation economy, with special attention given to the changing patterns of workspace; the transformation of housing strategies and their emerging role in urban intensification; and the exploration of an urbanism attentive to urban irregularity and informality. In each of these themes there is emphasis on the integration of spatial strategies and urban social practice. What these themes have in common is that they each expose the limitations of prevailing practices in urbanism and urban design and call for a revision of architecture’s role in the design of cities. The design workshops explore these themes in real urban situations in London and abroad, collaborating with local stakeholders. Recent international intensive workshops have been in Recife, Tainan, Hanoi, Shanghai, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro.

This work reaches beyond the AA through publications, participation in events such as the ‘Going Green in China’ exhibition at RIBA in London, the ‘Transforming Cities’ exhibition in Mexico, contributions to the UN Global Studio in Istanbul and Johannesburg, and staff involvement in advisory work, consultancies and urban projects in many cities around the world.