Histories & Theories provides a platform for critical enquiry into the writing of history, theoretical debates and forms of architectural and urban practice. The aim is three-fold: to ground contemporary arguments and projects in a wider historical, cultural and political context; to produce knowledge which relates to design and public cultures in architecture, including the AA school; to enquire into new forms of historical, theoretical and architectural research and practice.
A common concern of the different courses is analysing the relation of theoretical debates to particular projects, in order to develop a critical view of the arguments of the design, its mechanisms and effects. Terms are organised around seminar courses, lectures and events, offering students a range of approaches to investigate the contemporary from a historical, theoretical and cross-disciplinary perspective and to expand and reinterpret disciplinary knowledge in a broad cultural arena. The investigation of the modern and modernity through a critical reassessment of modernism, in terms of its narratives and controversies, is our point of departure towards understanding contemporary architecture and debates.
Central to the course is an emphasis on the critical practice of writing. Different forms such as the essay, review, short commentary and interview allow students to engage with diverse forms of enquiry and articulate the This year, the programme attracted students from Canada, Hong Kong, India, Italy, USA and the UK. Whereas the majority were trained architects taking a year to either reflect upon the theoretical implications of their design practice or take the first steps in an academic career, three students from graphic design and cultural studies joined the course to acquire an understanding of architectural theory in relation to particular projects.
The theme of the annual Histories and Theories Debates – with visiting critics, historians, writers and architects – focused on The city, Politics and Spaces and also related to the AA Research Project City Cultures directed by Marina Lathouri. A series of lectures and seminars addressed a number of themes, prompting a lively dialogue between students and visiting lecturers. Also special seminars on writing and contemporary forms of publishing were held with Kirk Wooller and Shumon Basar. Taking full advantage of AA events, the students have been active in juries and discussions of design work produced in other parts of the school. In particular, a series of workshops and rseminars was organised with Diploma Unit 9.
A study trip to Seville and Cordoba, Spain was combined with an intensive programme of seminars focused on the MA thesis research.