"The Estranged Gaze of Compassion”
The 2023-24 academic year at the Architectural Association Interprofessional Studio (AAIS) marks the culmination of the studio's “identity” series, focusing on the theme of "compassion." This year's overarching objective explores the methodology of "intellectual empathy." It researches and applies the concept of “alienating theatre,” drawing inspiration from the approach of Berthold Brecht.
The AAIS recognises the essential, enabling role of compassion and understanding in collaboration within creative ensembles. With "intellectual empathy" as a guiding principle, students are encouraged to engage in critical thinking while empathetically considering diverse perspectives. Through this approach, students gain an applied understanding of the social, cultural, and political dimensions associated with performative creations.
Building upon this foundation, students will be introduced to the techniques of alienating theatre, drawing inspiration from the work of Berthold Brecht. Alienating theatre challenges conventional storytelling methods, prompting the audience to critically analyse performances and encouraging intellectual engagement and empathy.
The AAIS has a rich history of collaboration with renowned institutions throughout the UK and across Europe as a network of intercultural exchange. Past collaborations have encompassed partnerships with Trinity Laban, The Place, Matadero Madrid, Las Heras in Girona, Teatro Aberto in Lisbon, DQE in Cologne, and Krakow Design Biennial among others.
For the 2023-24 academic year we will collaborate with the Shoreditch Arts Club in London and Marseille Modulor (MAMO) and Ora Ito in France. These partnerships offer students unique opportunities to engage with diverse artistic and creative communities, expanding their sphere of creative disciplines and the exchange of creative ideas beyond boundaries and cultures.
The AAIS continues to build the foundation for a new generation of creatives who create meaningful, thought-provoking, socially conscious design. Through the lens of "compassion," incorporating the methodology of "intellectual empathy" and alienating theatre, we aim to provide an immersive and transformative applied network for our students.
The Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Spatial Performance and Design at the Architectural Association School Architecture understands the area of Spatial Performance and Design beyond usual definitions of architecture and performance. Spatial performance is an area of investigation that includes the socio-political effect of design and performance. How creatives work and design functions within given contexts through actual projects and applied networks in the overlap of disciplines. The studio forms an intense learning environment, networking within creative fields through exposed and applied projects.
In the creative professions today, individuals are increasingly self-defining as multidisciplinary. AAIS engages this new reality to explore methods of collaboration between multiple creative professions. Through the research, design and production of a series of genre-defying spatial performances and constructions, participants examine the ways in which creative work and design overlap in the cultivation of unique project events.
Challenging the frontiers of between art, architecture and performance, the AAIS exposes a hidden ‘work-net’ between multiple professions, their products and methodologies. The studio – operating as an interdisciplinary creative office where knowledge exchange is one of the core points of focus – reaches professions and stimulates students to develop a language with which to communicate across creative disciplines. The AAIS explores visual art, performing arts, design, and media practices. Definitions are constantly evolving, thus the principle of the interprofessional studio is to challenge rather than uphold the accepted divisions of these disciplines.
The studio creates pathways to new skills and techniques beyond existing professional activities, and to intellectual stimulation via multidisciplinary cross-pollination. The AAIS has many established connections throughout the creative disciplines both in academia and practice. These various connections are utilised during lectures, seminars, exercises, tutorials and talks. The AAIS's real applied projects within the creative fields serve as a generator for the year's work and guarantee a high level of focus, outcome and public participation.
Students are urged to build new professional expert networks from creative backgrounds as diverse and complementary as performance, design, music, film, photography, fashion, communication and curation. Workshops and symposia align creative language to work and study within the AA. Concrete projects reflect various fields of research. Students are expected to demonstrate creative independence, necessarily integrating into the collective ensemble practice.
Contrary to typical interdisciplinary design approaches, where individual professions remain in their respective fields of expertise, the AAIS steers students outside so-called comfort zones. Knowledge is acquired from other disciplines. Accordingly, creative processes and practices ultimately influence the extension and adjustment of self-limitation.
The studio, offers a 12-month MA or 18-month MFA, encouraging students to communicate across disciplinary boundaries. It operates as a creative office with the exchange of knowledge at its core. Students are provided with a starting point for their individual approaches and careers through seminars, studio work and applied events that engage a multidisciplinary mindset across a variety of creative fields such as dance, theatre, music, exhibitions and festivals. The aim of the programme is to challenge and extend the frontiers of art, architecture and performance, and to expose a hidden ‘work-net’ of multiple vocations and their products.
From Term 1 to Term 3, participants concentrate on the design studio and seminar-based learning about the history and theory of interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration. Engaging network-based design, the group then moves on to the organisation and realisation of applied events and installations that result from such collaborations.
The second phase of study revolves around the production of an individual thesis, either in written form in Term 4 (for the MA qualification) or through applied practice during Term 4–5 (for the MFA degree). Alongside lectures, seminars, talks, symposia and workshops, the programme’s applied projects serve as generators for the year’s work and guarantee a high level of focus and public participation.