MA HCT & PhD Debates: History ‘in-translation’

Marina Lathouri and Guest Speakers

Debate 3

The Female Body Politic: Re-modelling The Book of the City of Ladies

Guest speaker: Penelope Haralambidou

Thursday 13 February | 4:00pm | 32 Bedford Square (First Floor Back)

Photograph: Andy Keate

Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert

Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert is an artist who is currently a PhD candidate at the Architectural Association, School of Architecture. She was trained as a communication designer at CommDe Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. She has been a tutor at AA Visiting School Bangkok concerning the theme of Trees in Bangkok, ‘Curartistry’ since 2018. She as a co-artist with Kornkamon Kaewprasert has exhibited an art piece titled ‘The Wood’ which reflects on both of their interests on the subject of wood, forest, and craftsmanship at Royal Academy of Art, Summer Exhibition 2019 in London. They founded Made of Two, a multidisciplinary design practice, centred around wood, tree and forest, in 2015. It is where they researched and made projects in various scales from visual media, exhibitions, furniture to architectures. From 2016, Made of Two has started its own wood-working space to pursue their conceptual and empirical interests in the materials.  

Lost, Udonthani Thailand, Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert, 2018


Gili Merin

Gili Merin is an architect and photographer She is a Diploma unit master at the AA, a lecturer for History and Theory of architecture at the Royal College of Arts, and a visiting professor in Syracuse University. She was trained as an architect, editor and researcher at OMA in Rotterdam, Kuehn Malvezzi in Berlin and Efrat-Kowalsky in Tel Aviv. Gili writes and photographs regularly for the Architects’ Journal, Frame Magazine and Haaretz newspaper. Her essays and reportages have been published in a number of print and online journals, amongst them the AA Files, MITs Thresholds, The Guardian and The Architectural Review.

Stations of the Cross in the Sacred Mountain of Varese, Italy. Photo by Gili Merin, 2018

PhD Lunchtime Talk: Matilde Cassani

Celebration Days

The spatial implications of cultural manifestations in the contemporary western urban context

Friday 3 May 2019, 1:00-2:15pm, 33 FFF

Since Baroque times a celebration has been an event that can be repeated more than once over time with the same rules but which starts in the same way and always ends in different ways. A party can be a moment of happiness but also of collective sadness. The place is the centre of the city, where the celebration reproduces the macrocosm in a microcosm. The event involves arts and crafts, religion and superstition, history and myth; individuals and communities, sometimes becoming a global fact. There are numerous opportunities for having a celebration. It can be a local or international event and may even be run by another country. A party reflects or foreshadows real events whether they be political or cultural, sacred or profane. During the event, the artisans under the guidance of its director produce artifacts that will be the protagonists of the show. Often the celebration closes with fireworks before everything finishes and the glory comes to an end. The ephemeral frequently also becomes a form of experimentation for a more lasting design and anticipates a more in-depth change. Celebration “designers” were the most important architects of the time during the Baroque period and their events were also reproduced in paintings, described in books and remembered for generations. In one way it may be said that a celebration is an architectural project in all respects, from a single element to its totality where the architect is not only the designer but also the director and the communicator. Ephemeral architecture becomes a reason for transforming a city, where the stage is the city itself and the mass of people are an integral part of the show. The lecture will focus on celebratory events and their “anticipatory” agents of the changes of the city and the roles of its architect.


Matilde Cassani moves on the border between architecture, installation and event design. Her practice deals with the spatial implications of cultural pluralism in the contemporary Western city. Her works have been showcased in many cultural institutions, art galleries and were published in several magazines such as Architectural Review, Domus, Abitare, Flash art, Arkitecktur, Arqa. She has been a resident fellow at “Akademie Schloss Solitude” in Stuttgart and at the “Headlands Center for the Arts” in San Francisco. Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York hosted her solo exhibition “Sacred Spaces in Profane Buildings” in September 2011. She designed the National Pavilion of The Kingdom of Bahrain at the XIII Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012 and she was part of the XIV Venice Architecture Biennale with the piece “A celebration day”, recently acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She was recently involved in the Chicago Architecture triennale, Oslo Triennale and Manifesta12. She currently teaches at Politecnico di Milano, at Domus Academy and at the Architectural Association in London working with Unit 11.

Yujin Kim

Yujin Kim commenced her PhD degree in September 2018. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, the US and a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Architecture from Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea. After she was awarded the Master of Architecture degree, she worked in professional architecture offices for ten years. She did various projects with hotels, offices, schools, and more, working in architecture firms in San Francisco and Boston, the US for five and a half years. After coming back to South Korea, Yujin worked in architecture offices in Seoul for four and a half years and taught in an architectural studio at Konkuk University, Seoul. She also participated in architectural studios as an external juror at Yeungnam University in South Korea.


‘What is Contemporary?’ – Conjuring with Ghosts (Geists): A Dialectical Fairy Tale

History as Narrative of the Present

(PhD seminar with Marina Lathouri and guest speaker Joan Ockman)

Following on the seminar ‘What is Historical?’ in Term 1, discussions with guest speakers will take place this term. Continuing and expanding on the previous sessions, the theme is ‘What is Contemporary?’.

For the first session on Thursday at 4:30pm in 37 FFF we are delighted to be joined by Joan Ockman who will talk about ‘History as Narrative of the Present‘.



Reyner Banham, “Introduction—The Machine Age,” from Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (orig. 1960), 9–12

Manfredo Tafuri, “Introduction: The Historical ‘Project,’” from The Sphere and the Labyrinth: Avant-Gardes and Architecture from Piranesi to the 1970s (orig. 1980), 1–21

Manfredo Tafuri, Preface to Interpreting the Renaissance: Princes, Cities, Architects (orig. 1992), xxvii–xxix



Fredric Jameson, “Preface: Regressions of the Current Age” and “Part I: Four Maxims of Modernity” (first three sections), from A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present (2012), 1–41


AHRA PhD Student Symposium

The 2019 AHRA PhD Student Symposium will take place this year 24-25 April at the University of Manchester, UK.

According to the event’s website, the ‘AHRA Research Student Symposium 2019 takes as its starting point a broad and prolonged transition occurring in architectural research during the past decade. New and interdisciplinary approaches emerge as a result of our world’s socio-political and techno-ecological transformations towards relational, processual “architectural research.” These changes move away from descriptions and interpretations of a static formal “Architecture” focused on particular buildings and architects.’

Please visit the symposium webpages for more details:

The submissions deadline is 28 January 2019.

AA PhD alumni commended in the RIBA President’s Awards for Research 2018

In Dec 2018, AA PhD Alumni Dr. Jingru (Cyan) Cheng received a commendation from the RIBA President’s Awards for Research 2018 with her work titled ‘Care and Rebellion: The Dissolved Household in Contemporary Rural China’. This work is part of her PhD by Design thesis ’Territory, Settlement, Household: A Project of Rural China’ supervised by Pier Vittorio Aureli and Sam Jacoby at the AA.

Cyan started her PhD research on rural China from the perspective of an architect. However, in her words, ‘towards the end, I have felt more and more strongly about what I find out through research – rurality as an elastic form of association – from the perspective of being Chinese.’

She identifies ‘the associational relationships [which] manifest themselves through minor details and insignificant moments in the practice of everyday life – through how people act, speak and do their chores’ – as elastic, confessing that, methodologically speaking, this has also made her increasingly drawn to the intersection between architecture and anthropology as well as to design ethnography.

Cyan argues that derived ‘from the deeply embedded elasticity, the dissolved household in contemporary rural China anticipates some of the global discussions around alternative forms of social relationships beyond the family norm, especially in relation to the network of care, the intergenerational living and the ageing society. In this sense, rural China is at the forefront of global challenges.’

More information can be found at:

Image Caption: The Yard in Liu Brothers’ Family House, Shigushan Village, Wuhan, China, 2016 © Jingru (Cyan) Cheng

What is Historical?

PhD Seminar organized by Marina Lathouri and Will Orr | Term 1


This PhD seminar series introduces four key problematics from the philosophy of history and the theory of historiography. A question not simply of the “past” but of the present and the future, by asking “what is historical?” we hope to open a discussion on the critical and eminently practical relevance of history for contemporary action—whether in the critical polemic, historical research, or design project.

Each session performs a close reading of paired texts, a specific body of historical writing, to establish a conceptual foundation for thinking about history, how history is being produced, what is written, what is said and how it can be taught.

The seminar also looks ahead to a series of debates and discussions with visiting speakers taking place in Term 2 on the related question: “What is Contemporary?”


Seminar I       History and Modernity

Nov 15 | 4pm – 6pm

Immanuel Kant: “An answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” (1784)

Michel Foucault: “What is Enlightenment?”

In: The Foucault Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow, pp.32-50, 1984

Supplementary readings:

Peter Osborne, Chapter 1: “Modernity, a Different Time” in The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde (1995), pp.1-29


Seminar II      History as Agency

Nov 22 | 4pm – 6pm

W. F. Hegel: Introduction to the Lectures of the Philosophy of History (1837)

Karl Marx: “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845)

Supplementary readings:

Theodore W. Adorno, Lectures 3 and 4 in An Introduction to Dialectics (1958), pp.15-36

Michael Löwy, “A Historical Materialism with Romantic Splinters: Walter Benjamin and Karl Marx” in Jernej Habjan and Jessica Whyte eds., (Mis)readings of Marx in Continental Philosophy (2014), pp.19-33


Seminar III    History as Theory

Nov 29 | 4pm – 6pm

Manfredo Tafuri: Introduction to Theories and History (1968)

Reinhardt Koselleck: “On the Need for Theory in the Discipline of History”

In: The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts, pp.1-19, 2002

Supplementary readings:

Judith Butler, “Critique, Dissent, Disciplinarity” in Katrin de Boer and Ruth Sonderegger eds., Conceptions of Critique in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy (2012), pp.10-29

Tomas Llorens, “On Making History” in Joan Ockamn, Deborah Berke, and Mary Mcleod eds., Architecture Criticism Ideology (1985), pp.24-8


Seminar IV    History and the Contemporary

Dec 6 | 4pm – 6pm

Giorgio Agamben: “What is the Contemporary?” (2008)

Friedrich Nietzsche: Untimely Meditations (1876)

Supplementary readings:

 Smith, “Introduction:

Jean-Luc Nancy, “Art Today,” lecture Academia di Brera, Milan, 2006. In: Journal of Visual Culture, vol.9, no.1 (April 2010), pp.91-9

Crosswise – 4 Conversations

Introduction to the event by Alvaro
10.15 – 11.50 
Dissolving Boundaries
Tatjana Crossley, Elena Palacios, Sofia Krimizi
The overarching theme of this panel is ‘boundaries’, looking at this through the lens of the psychological,
the physical and the representational. Tatjana Crossley will be discussing the boundary of the body image,
looking largely at the psychological aspect of body image formation and evolution (as it relates to the
subjective and sensory experience of space and virtual space). Elena Palacios will be considering the space of
the artist studio as an inhabited boundary that exists between and merges the space of the home and the
public. And Sofia Krimizi will be examining the boundaries imposed by and generated through education
in the context of the architecture school, specifically looking into the departure from the building as a
boundary that separates the act of learning from the objects that architects are learning from.
11.50 – 13.20 
Spaces of Hybridity
Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert, Kornkamon Kaewprasert, and Damnoen Techamai
This panel will discuss the ideas of hybridity in two phenomena. Damnoen Techamai will be
using the term to explain wedding ceremonies in the current culture condition of Thailand through
wedding gowns. The productions of objects and services seem to refer to traditions in Thailand but are
basically an invented tradition. Secondly, the notion of hybridity will be discussed in traditional questions
in social science of the relationship between things which are both natural and cultural. Kornkamon
Kaewprasert will be discussing the idea of wood symbolising wood by giving the distinction of the object,
tree , and the substance, wood , which is overlaid by the distinction of culture and nature. Kanyaphorn
Kaewprasert will be examining the forest, a paradoxical object, by laying out its terms from natural to
cultural understandings, in particular, a forest in its impermeable, pure, stage to the forest in fairytales.
13.20 – 14.30 lunch
14.30 – 15.45 
Imaginary Ideals
Andrea Goh and Naina Gupta
The panel will discuss two different examples of utopian ideas. Both discussions will show the
complications where imaginary narratives affect the spatial conditions and architectural practices, effecting
the very forms of life of its people. The first presentation discusses the policies on exhumations and burials
in Singapore and reflects on the distinct spatial technologies the Singaporean state has utilised to tackle the
issues of land scarcity while at the same time, trying to create a sense of rootedness in its citizens. The
second presentation, focusing on the international zone in The Hague, argues that the deliberate projection
of neutrality – understood by its ease of integration in to the everyday, its pure functional rhetoric and lack
of any overt representation of power – is the inevitable architectural language of international
organisations, is rooted in modernism and is closely aligned with its inherent paradoxical political stance.
15.50 – 18.00 
The Politics of Planning: Conditions, Contradictions, Critiques
Ricardo Ruivo, Will Orr, Eleni Axioti, Samaneh Moafi
The panel will discuss contemporary questions surrounding the social and political character of
architectural and urban planning. In particular, attention will be paid to the historical connection between
planning, social democracy, and the welfare state, which today takes on a particular significance. The panel
will address contemporary critical perceptions of historical instances of planning, with focus on the
limitations of those critiques. The speakers will suggest different approaches to the notion of planning – a
notion which tends to condense a number of ambiguous institutional and political associations within
architectural discourse.
Constance Lau, Doreen Bernath, Jon Goodbun, Maria S. Giudici, Teresa Stoppani, Mark Campbell (tbc), Mark
Cousins, Mark Morris (tbc), Melissa Moore
* Events organized by Naina Gupta and Alvaro Velasco Perez; posters designed and produced by Kanyaphorn Kaewprasert, Kornkamon Kaewprasert