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Design + Make MSc/March in Architectural Association

The Architectural Association
The AA School of Architecture
Hooke, Beaminster
United Kingdom
Fabrication, Arts & Communications

Design + Make explores design at the point of physical production and generates new protocols within the realm of experimental architectural construction. The research we conduct demonstrates a vision for architectural education in which making is central to the act of design itself.


The AA’s satellite campus at Hooke Park serves as our central laboratory for architectural research. The large-scale fabrication facilities provide a unique testing ground in which students can devote time to speculative research through the design and fabrication of architectural constructs and building components. Students inhabit this unique environment that combines forest, studio, workshop and building sites.


Our toolbox contains a diverse array of resources that facilitate the design and fabrication of architectural constructs within the park itself. Contemporary technologies, design and fabrication methods – such as 3D scanning, generative modelling, iterative physical modelling and robotic fabrication – combine to optimise manufacturing strategies and provide opportunities to replicate the feedback between natural geometry, material properties and designed form that had previously connected designer, maker and artefact.


We use a hands-on approach, guided by an in-depth material understanding. The core agenda of Design + Make strives to advance the materialisation of architecture through the synthesis of rigorous design strategies, advanced technologies and craft techniques to develop a deeper understanding of material behaviours. This emphasis on design and fabrication maximises the learning opportunities for participants by facilitating the realisation of design intent, practised as designing through making.




Both programmes (MArch & MSc) are structured around a series of hands-on studio projects of increasing scale and sophistication, leading to the production of a large architectural construct (MArch) or full-size timber prototype (MSc). These studios are complemented by seminar courses and workshops in forestry and woodworking and traditional and contemporary building crafts, as well as by lectures and events at Hooke Park and Bedford Square, providing a foundational understanding of the cultural and technological landscape within which a designer must operate.


The MArch and MSc courses share taught components in the first two terms. After the second term the programme bifurcates, with the MSc students completing their project and dissertations for submission in September. The MArch students also submit their thesis in September, but continue with project construction until January. MArch students use full-scale building constructs at Hooke Park as a vehicle for design research. Formulating individual research interests within a group project, each student develops critical knowledge to underpin the work of their thesis. MSc students have a more explicit focus on technology and the innovative application of timber in architecture, which is developed and tested through full-scale system prototypes using diverse fabrication technologies and strategies.
The teaching team consists of architects, engineers and construction experts, with the support of world-leading consultants who provide technical guidance for the projects. The expert staff work side by side with students to develop knowledge and expertise collaboratively, resulting in fully developed and experimental architectural constructs.




The Introduction Studio in Term 1 establishes the technical skill-set and key design methodologies required for the programme. This includes taught classes and workshops that aim to establish proficiency in the operation of critical skills and tools employed throughout the work of Design + Make. This covers analogue fabrication techniques, CAD/CAM (formulating information for digital manufacturing), generative design strategies, robotic fabrication and applied scanning techniques.

In parallel, studio projects are structured as workshop-based Design + Make exercises in which key skills are deployed and developed. These lead to the design, fabrication and construction (in small teams) of 1:1, inhabitable structures set in the Hooke Park landscape that introduce students to the material processes of full-scale experimental construction. These projects enable students to develop design approaches driven by considerations of landscape and material, allowing for speculative testing of design methodologies and fabrication techniques that will be further developed in the Main Projects.


SEMINAR COURSES, Terms 1 and 2

Seminar Courses are delivered in weekly sessions and focus on the cultural theory of making as design; timber properties and technologies; engagement with landscape and thesis development. Together, they provide the theoretical framework for the project work and the intellectual foundation for the written Thesis/Dissertation.



In order to innovate in construction, we allow sufficient time in Term 2 for testing and experimentation. To investigate the boundaries of a given methodology or workflow, we encourage risk taking, trial and failure. Attaching a significant value to experimentation and testing supports the fundamental principle of iterative design that sits at the core of the Design + Make ethos and provides the opportunity to apply the findings of initial prototypes to the final construct.




For MArch students, the Main Project consists of the design, prototyping and construction of a full-scale, architectural structure at Hooke Park. Working in teams, students design, fabricate and build full-scale constructions through which research propositions can be tested through their physical manifestation. Designs are developed through prototyping, mock-ups and physical testing in collaboration with engineering consultants and specialist builders. The range of research topics within these projects can encompass individual interests in bespoke fabrication technologies and workflows, alternative forms of design practice, or personal fascinations within the cultural landscape of architecture. The constructed project is recorded in portfolio documents and reinforced by the tailored research undertaken through individual March theses.




For MSc students, the Main Project is an individual research programme of experimentation and prototyping that leads to a full-scale, experimental timber prototype designed to test innovative and critical positions within the field of timber applications. Students are encouraged to radically exploit the woodland and the fabrication resources of Hooke Park, with the aim of developing advanced knowledge and a critical understanding of emerging fabrication and timber technologies. The MSc Dissertation is a technical report on the research undertaken, including speculative analysis of its architectural applicability. For MSc students, this prototyping exercise is completed in a full-scale experimental timber construction at the end of Term 3 that forms the research basis for the subsequent MSc dissertations.




The Thesis allows MArch students to define their intellectual position through the construction of critical arguments and investigations. These provide the fundamental research that will inform, support and instruct the Main Project. For MSc students, the Dissertation presents the technical design research that has been carried out in the development of the constructed prototype and makes propositions with respect to future application of timber fabrication in the field.


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Admission Requirements



You are required to meet the minimum academic and reference requirements outlined below for your desired programme. Overseas applicants must also meet the English language qualifications requirements outlined below.


Successful applicants who are awaiting the outcome of future examination results will be issued a conditional offer. These conditions must be met by the date outlined on the offer letter in order to be eligible to enter the School.


Applicants who will not complete their degree until after June 2020 are encouraged to contact the Postgraduate Admissions Team prior to applying for the 2020/21 academic year.


Minimum Academic Requirements


MSc Design & Make (12 months): Professional degree or diploma in architecture, engineering or other relevant discipline. Please note this course is held in Hook Park, Dorset.


MArch Design & Make (16 months): Five-year professional architectural degree (BArch/Diploma equivalent). Please note this course is held in Hook Park, Dorset


English Language Requirements (All Applicants)


All applicants must be able to provide evidence of competency in both spoken and written English. The AA reserves the right to make a place in the School conditional on gaining a further English language qualification if deemed necessary.


More info at:


Application Procedure


The AA is a private institution. Anyone interested in applying to the AA must:


a.- Complete the online application form;


b.- Pay the relevant application fee: £50 for early applications, £75 for late applications; and


c.- Submit a digital portfolio of design work (all applicants with the exception of History and Critical Thinking and PhD in Research)


The application procedure is the same for all applicants, regardless of where you are applying form.


Prior to completing the form applicants should carefully read the entry requirements for their chosen programme. The AA will not accept multiple applications and applicants cannot change their programme of study once the application has been received, assessed and a decision has been made. Therefore, it is crucial that you apply for the programme most suited to your experience.


Applications will not be processed until the online form has been completed, all required supporting documents have been provided. Failure to provide the information requested will delay the processing of your application. It is therefore advisable that you start preparing this documentation now.


If there is any change in your circumstances after you submit your application (i.e. you will not be completing your current year of study), you must inform us as soon as possible. The AA reserves the right to withdraw an offer of a place if you fail to inform us of significant changes in your circumstances.


Deadlines for 2020/21 Academic Year


– Optional early-offer applications for 2020/21 close: Friday 22 November 2019*.


– Early (Winter) application deadlines for 2020/21 close: Friday 24 January 2020* (last deadline for bursary applications)


– Late (Spring) application deadlines for 2020/21 close: Friday 6 March 2020.


Both your online application, and your portfolio, must arrive by the dates listed above.


Applications received after the dates above may be accepted at the discretion of the School.


* In order to be eligible to apply for a bursary, applicants must submit their application and portfolio (if applicable) no later than 24 January 2020, stating their interest in an AA bursary in the ‘Finances and Funding’ section. Applicants who require an English language examination must also have booked and passed one of the approved English language examinations listed on the AA website by 24 January 2020 in order to be eligible for a bursary. The bursary application procedure will be explained once applicants receive an official offer.


Online form


You will need to register to gain access to the online application form


Please ensure you complete all sections of the online form carefully. You can save the form and return to complete sections multiple times using your original registration password.


Please be aware that applications will not be processed until the online form has been completed, all required supporting documents have been provided. Failure to provide the information requested will delay the processing of your application.


Applicants who submit an incomplete application will be contacted by email to request the outstanding documentation. The AA will send applicants a maximum of 2 reminders to follow up documentation. If no response is received, the application with be automatically rejected by the AA.


Upon signing the application form applicants certify that the work submitted is entirely their own. Plagiarism is unacceptable in the academic setting. Students are subject to penalties including dismissal from the course if they commit an act of plagiarism.


Certificates and Transcripts


You must submit scanned copies of your academic records or transcripts which include a detailed list of subjects taken and marks attained.


If you have completed your degree, please upload both the degree certificate and your transcripts (covering all years of study). If you have not completed your degree, please upload all academic transcripts to date.


Applicants who will not complete their degree until after June 2020 are encouraged to contact the Postgraduate Admissions Team prior to applying for the 2020/21 academic year.


Overseas applicants must provide documents in English. The AA can only accept official translations bearing the stamp and signature of the translator. Please also include scanned copies of the un-translated certificates and transcripts.




Applicants must submit two references with the online application form: one related to work experience, the other academic. If the applicant has no work experience two academic references are required. References must be on headed paper and signed. No application will be considered before two references have been received.


Referees who would prefer to send the reference to us directly can do so by post to:


Postgraduate Admissions, No. 36 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3ES.


Referees can also email us directly to However, the reference must be on official headed paper, be signed and scanned as a PDF, and emailed directly from the referees official school or university email address. Emails received from personal email addresses will not be accepted.


Submit Your Portfolio


With the exception of History and Critical Thinking and PhD Research, all applicants must submit a digital portfolio of design work, showing a combination of both academic and professional work. The Portfolio should contain 20 – 30 pages (drawings/project synopsis/samples of work) combined into a single PDF format (Max file size 40MB).


The portfolio should be clearly labelled including your full name and programme of application.




All applications will only be acknowledged by email. Decisions on applications are normally given within six to eight weeks of receiving the application. Applicants who need to meet funding deadlines should submit their application as early as possible. Please indicate the funding deadline in your application and the AA will make every effort to ensure that you are notified of the decision as soon as possible.


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General information
MSc; 12 months / March: 16 months
Martin Self
Not Confirmed
+44 (0)20 7887 4007
Architectural Association, Hooke Park, Hooke, Beaminster DT8 3PH
Campus Location
The information of this Master's Degree was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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