ADS Themes 2016/17

MA Architecture

The core of learning is project-based according to a unit system made up of seven architectural design studios (ADSs) with a unique set of concerns, methods and critical frameworks. Each ADS has approximately 16 students with first- and second-year students working alongside each other. 

ADS1: The Shape of the City, The Shape of the Home
Nicholas Lobo Brennan, Astrid Smitham & Douglas Murphy

The purpose of architecture could be said to be two-fold: the making of environmentally controlled spaces for human inhabitation; and the definition of an outside from an inside, whether material or immaterial. Architecture in both senses is the making of a world that is distinct yet related to a wider world.

Addressing the first; the studio will work with the idea that the earth could now be described as a single artificial space, an architecture at the largest possible scale, where human activity has altered the climate of the planet. The causes, results and management of the break between the natural and artificial must be recognised in the background of how we think. But the expansion of the artificial must also become an opportunity for nature and human cultural production to be brought together in the foreground as a way to create new forms of human environment. After all, the objective of the idea of the city was to create a highly altered environment where human skill, intellect and desire could be pursued to its heights.

Addressing the second; the definition of a ‘within’ from a ‘without’ persists as a primary tool of the apparatuses that organise global life at all scales, from the lines drawn on maps that form nations, to the formation of institutions, to the coded limits of identities, to the idea of property, to the materialising of walls and structures. The studio will work with the idea that the drawing of a line and subsequent dividing of matter must result in a bringing together, a point of meeting and sharing. After all, it is the dividing up of a loaf of bread that allows it to be shared more

The home as a series of spaces modulating the physical and social environment House by Vilanova Artigas, house by Shinohara
The home as a series of spaces modulating the physical and social environment House by Vilanova Artigas, house by Shinohara

ADS3 Banking Nature: Speculation on Disappearing Spaces
Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe 

Under a growing demand for governments and institutions to respond to climate change, economic transactions between nature and the built environment are being constantly renegotiated. This studio investigates the ways in which speculation on the disappearance of natural spaces is entangled with global financial flows, the mitigation of environmental damage and the making of speculative urban forms. Architectural practice can intervene in the design of wildlands, in order to re-imagine other forms of inhabiting the space affected by the drainage of wetlands, the risk along flood-prone coastal zones, the trading of carbon emissions through offshore wind farms, and the devaluation of properties over underground fracking sites more.

Windfarm, Thames Estuary
Windfarm, Thames Estuary

ADS4: Series 6
Nicola Koller & Tom Greenall

Writing a studio brief is hard. It takes us ages. All summer in fact. Now in our sixth year of teaching together, it isn’t getting any easier. We start by sending each other articles, papers, images and references that interest us and then we meet up week after week to chat about our thoughts. The trouble is we get distracted. We start doodling, watching YouTube, or more recently, watching an episode. Before we know it we have watched a whole season of Stranger Things. What is it about this form of cultural consumption that we find so easy to participate in? Why can't architecture (briefs) be this forthcoming? And what can we learn from watching television? ... read more.

Stonehenge, Unknown artist

ADS5 DOT: Architecture and World Systems: Post CPTL/Nature/Acceleration
Jon Goodbun, Benedict Singleton & Victoria Watson

In order to understand the world today we need to understand the nature of systems – social and cultural systems, technical systems, spatial systems, material systems, biological systems: systems which in their dynamic and networked assemblages operate as world systems. As architects, urbanists and designers we study and co-produce important parts of these systems. The production of space is a key part of the constant reproduction of these world systems. ADS5 DOT continues to explore this way of understanding the world. An architectural training provides a useful set of tools and traditions for thinking about and exploring this condition. But on its own it is not enough. In order to map the nature of the world systems within which we work, we need to explore trans-disciplinary ways of working and thinking – although again, coordinating transdisciplinary teams is a part of architectural training ... read more


ADS6 The Deindustrial Revolution: Image of Making
Clara Kraft, Satoshi Isono, Dr Guan Lee

ADS6 is interested in critically examining how we make things and how this affects where and how we live, work and make. Over the last few years we have investigated the shifts in manufacturing, within what we term The Deindustrial Revolution and the effect on architectures and landscapes. If the emergence of digital tools has allowed for the factory to be everywhere, and the design team to be everyone, what effect does this have on how we build? Last year, we took a ‘straightforward turn’ and looked at the potential relationship of craft and material lore with current fabrication technologies. The year prior, we questioned the ethics of making and the implications of the democratisation of production on its associated communities. We travelled and learnt from the factory floors in the UK and abroad. We took note and then tested ideas through hands-on explorations, and all the while we were ‘making things’: craftsmanship became fashionable again. How did this happen? And more importantly why? more

Reimagining Ambridge
ADS6, Reimagining Ambridge: Construction of the Hovel, Alexander Dickie and Christopher Kelly 2016

ADS7 Ecologies of Existence: The Architecture of Collective Equipment
Godofredo Pereira, Platon Issaias, David Burns

ADS7 proposes an alternative way of thinking and designing architecture as a collective political practice. The studio encourages students to think simultaneously in multiple scales, proposing architectural models and strategies for a wide array of collectives that they will have to select by themselves. As in the previous year, ADS7’s main research question is what kind of architecture could emerge when we think about and define ecology, subjectivity and living, as indispensable political and architectural categories ... read more.

Chief Tuira Kayapó challenges José Muniz, president of Electronorte during the presentation of plans for the Belo Monte Dam, Altamira, Brazil, 1989. Credit: Paulo Jares/ISA

ADS9: Units, Scales and Measures
Alison Crawshaw & Sam Chermayeff

ADS9 was initiated as an on-going project based around the study of institutions. The research is founded upon the question of institutions in relation to the urban, explored through a new lens each year. As our cities continue to grow at unprecedented rates, from fantastical branded enclaves to deregulated sprawl, their relentless proliferation outpaces our capacity to plan them. Institutions are our means to critique and intervene in this condition. In the context of the unfurling forces of planetary urbanisation, we explore the operation and agency of institutions in relation to the urbe and will test the spatial consequences of this. 

Whilst the previous two years, 'The Ghost in the Machine' and 'New Subjectivities' have taken historic and future explorations respectively, this year Units, Scales and Measures carves a trajectory across time. While we understand institutions as physical edifices that mark the character of our cities and as organisations that shape the interactions of our society (subjectivity) the consequences and physical impacts of our institutions seem, at first glance, more intangible and abstract. ADS9 starts this year with the claim that in fact every detail in our lives and the physical environment around us is the accumulated result of the myriad of institutions that inform our existence. Most specifically, we claim that our built environment is a direct and specific response to a series of institutional imperatives. We seek to understand this through a precise line of enquiry; measure. more.

Carmen, Manuela, Mayor of Madrid, questions smart cities
Carmen, Manuela, Mayor of Madrid, questions smart cities