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Emergent Technologies & Design MSc/March in Architectural Association

The Architectural Association
The AA School of Architecture
London, England
United Kingdom
Sustainability, Construction & Technology

The Emergent Technologies and Design programme is open to graduates in architecture and engineering who wish to develop the skills and knowledge of architectural design science, situated in new production paradigms.


We investigate new synergies of architecture and ecology through the critical intersection of computational design and fabrication. Our focus is on exploring the experiential and social potentials of new material and spatial configurations for architectural and ecological urban designs, situated in the dynamic contexts of emerging biomes. The programme is designed to stimulate critical thinking through experience of research-driven design projects that are developed in an intellectually rigorous and creative studio environment. Our projects are pursued by multiple iterations through hypothesis, material and computational experimentation, robotic fabrication and evaluation; reflected upon in verbal presentations and group discussions, and documented in analytical and scientifically structured papers.


Design research is central to the agendas of Emergent Technologies and Design. The programme proceeds from the fundamental premise of a shared understanding, between staff, students, researchers and collaborators across the world, that nature and artifice are strongly coupled; that the cultural production of artefacts and systems exists as part of the environment of other active systems and that they are subject to change. We also share the understanding that causality of change is complex and multi-scalar and that the dynamics of change are perturbed and accelerated by human activities – we share a concern for the consequences of those changes to society and the natural world. Design processes in this domain are developed through iterative computational processes of serial experimentation and analysis, generative propositions and simulations. The programme is structured to provide skills and knowledge of a coherent set of linked and convergent discourses, methodologies and concerns that cross multiple disciplines in the Studio, and the opportunity to further develop those skills and deepen knowledge in the Dissertation.




The programme has two distinct phases – the Studio and the Dissertation. Both are aligned with and supported by the research of the programme team and the advanced expertise our alumni and research colleagues in practice and industry.






The Studio is comprised of workshops, seminars and design projects that are led by EmTech staff and our associated researchers. It offers a creative and intellectually rigorous sequence of study that builds knowledge and skill. It provides an intensive engagement with Design Science and introduces students to the wider community of design researchers in London practices. It concludes by guiding students through the formation of a detailed proposal for an original architectural inquiry, to be pursued in the Dissertation.






This two-week workshop presents a comprehensive introduction to the core skills and techniques of algorithmic thinking, geometry, digital design and fabrication. It will be centred on the development of associative geometric models in Grasshopper and the relations between digital morphogenesis and material realisation. Students will become familiar with the necessary exchange of data between the digital and physical realms through the formalisation of the inherent geometric relationships that characterise the different elements of developed designs. The course will be supplemented by seminars and tutorials on parametric logic, geometry and material systems, and on the appropriate techniques for recording, describing and documenting digital and physical experiments. The Induction workshop will conclude with fabricated and digitally modelled material systems that resolve problems of parametric control, material behaviour, structural integrity, tessellation of three-dimensional components, precise dimensional control and spatial organisation.




The Scientific Method is an evolving set of procedures based on systematic observations and measurements, the formulation of ideas (hypotheses) and predictions from those observations that are tested by experiment, the subsequent modification of these hypotheses and further experimentation until there is no distance between the hypothesis, predictions and observed results from the experiment. Design Research is a unique class of enquiry that may include some combination of the larger set of principles of form and behaviour, integrated knowledge of the natural or cultural sciences, a specified degree of mutability such as a relational model capable of adaptation to differing circumstances or environments, testable propositions and principles of implementation, and an expository design (conceptual, physical or computationally simulated) to be used for testing and evaluation.




This series of seminars builds on the techniques and methods explored in the Boot Camp to develop proposals with advanced computational design, analysis and fabrication strategies. It aims to engage analytical tools as methods for generative design and explore a variety of computational workflows. Seminars and hands-on workshops will explore the application of scientific methods to architectural design research and concentrate on experimentation, analysis, evaluation and decision-making processes. A range of computational formfinding and analysis methods will be introduced alongside an induction in Python programming and advanced digital fabrication techniques. Areas of investigation include:


-Python Programming
– Structural Analysis
– Environmental Analysis
– Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
– AR / VR technologies
– Emergence / Evolutionary Computation




The seminar course aims to develop an understanding of how biology can be a model for material, mechanical, spatial and computational systems. An introduction to the ways in which organisms have evolved formally, materially and structurally in response to varied functions and environments is followed by an account of engineering, logical and organisational design principles that have been abstracted from nature in current research projects and material science. A study is made of a natural system, along with an exploration of interrelations and an abstraction of design principles. The methods of analysis, as well as system logics and material performance, studied in this seminar will be further developed within Design I. Student groups will investigate mathematical, geometric, material and hierarchical logics to develop a critical view of the relationships between systems design and performance. These areas of investigation will formulate the second series of a three-year research agenda on innovative solutions that aim to devise analytical computational approaches through the study of social insect behaviour.




Evolutionary algorithms have been used extensively in recent years to mimic the principles of evolutionary science in solving common real-world problems through search and optimisation procedures of single or multiple objectives. Ranging from the fields of economics and politics to music and architecture, they have proven to be an efficient problem-solving technique, enabling the discovery of trade-off solutions to problems that possess multiple ‘fitness criteria’ (objectives) that are in conflict with one another.






This project explores the physical and digital computational techniques used to develop the architectural qualities of different material systems adapted for specific climatic contexts. Digital models will develop possibilities in response to various environmental parameters, while physical models will investigate the integration of material behaviour and robotic fabrication processes. Techniques derived from the concepts and knowledge of the hierarchical organisation of biological systems and computational models (developed in the Natural Systems and Biomimetics seminar course) will be implemented. The opportunities and limitations of selected robotic fabrication techniques will be associated with the material organisation, fabrication and assembly workflows of a 1:1 scale working prototype. The purpose of Design I is to design, develop computational workflow techniques, analyse and fully fabricate material systems that are situated within the EmTech Design and Build research agenda.




The second design project is focused on creating new design experiments and system logics for ecologically sensitive settlements with urban tissues in extreme climates and ecological contexts. It is founded on the logic that the patterns of human inhabitation are determined by the needs of the infrastructure of the ecology – designed, grown and developed as integrated natural and cultural systems, with the ambition of being resilient to change. Designs will be developed for a land/water entity that is both a place of mariculture production and inhabitation for people. Situated in the intertidal zone and marshes, the design will integrate wetlands, their intricate hydrological reservoirs and hydrological networks with patterns and clusters of dense and/or distributed urban blocks and associated productive landscapes that have their own specific networks.






The Dissertation Research Studio extends the acquisition of research competence through extensive, collaborative dialogue with EmTech’s research community of active post-doctorate researchers and PhD candidates. There are two main fields of Design Research in which we are active: Dynamic Material Systems with Advanced Fabrication (including robotic techniques) and Ecological Urban Design in emergent biomes. Students integrate explorations of the theoretical discourses, relevant sciences and case studies of ‘state of the art’ projects in the domain of their chosen topic and set out the methods and protocols for the development of their Design Proposal. The development and conclusion of the final proposal is pursued through the iterative design cycles by which students have acquired knowledge and skills during the early phases of the programme.




Design and Build is our ‘extracurricular’, collaborative student project. It is an essential part of the pedagogy and the culture of EmTech. It runs right throughout the year, alongside both Studio and the Dissertation, and provides the opportunity to design and deliver a built project with real material, structural and dimensional constraints. The experience gained enhances the design, computational and analytical skills that student acquire in the Studio and develops crucial, transferable skills that are applicable to professional practice. Our Design and Build projects have been published internationally in the architectural press and have received industry awards.


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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 Emergent Technologies & Design (12 months): Professional degree or diploma in architecture, engineering, industrial/product design or other relevant discipline


MArch Emergent Technologies & Design (16 months): Five-year professional architectural degree or diploma in architecture, engineering, industrial/product design or other relevant discipline (BArch/Diploma equivalent)


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
Elif Erdine
Not Confirmed
+44 (0)20 7887 4067
36 Bedford Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3ES
Campus Location
The information of this Master's Degree was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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