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Housing & Urbanism MA/March in Architectural Association

The Architectural Association
The AA School of Architecture
London, England
United Kingdom
Urban Studies & City PlanningHousing & Habitat

Housing and Urbanism enables students from architecture and related disciplines to understand and address the complexities of urban transformation to become stronger as professionals, scholars and critics. While design learning and investigation form the core of our programme, a complementary aim of this work is to deepen students’ grasp of the politics and practicalities that are shaping change in cities today.


Our primary interest is in specific projects that are strong enough to initiate or further the positive transformation of urban areas. We work across scales, from detailed plans of contemporary housing to the mobility infrastructures of regional metropolises. The capacity for critical synthesis drives all of our work and enables students to understand their project as the coalescence of a range of urban forces and trends. The curriculum centres on design-led research leading to an individual thesis. A collaborative Design Workshop forms the central element of the coursework and the student experience, with lectures and seminars informing students’ design work and broadening their scholarly understanding of urban trends and histories.


Each year, we focus on a set of specific research themes around which our workshops, study trips and collaborations are organised. We will supervise study in five thematic areas: Complex Living, focused on emerging trends in housing and urban lifestyles; Workspace Urbanity, promoting intensive integration of work environments into the contemporary city; Mobility and Integration, exploring the projects which best unlock the potential of new mobility infrastructure; Urbanity and the Politics of Wellbeing, critically reviewing the ever-expanding opportunities and challenges of the contemporary focus upon health and Augmented Informality, working with the dynamism of informal settlements to find new solutions for enhancing their urban qualities. Taken together, these themes allow us to provide an overview of some of the most important drivers of change today, while also enabling each student to refine an individual and specific area of research.


Housing and Urbanism holds to a comparative and international tradition. While London, as an outstanding global city, forms our primary research laboratory, we also undertake an annual European study trip to investigate leading projects elsewhere, such as Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen or Vienna. In addition, the programme collaborates every year with a host city and a university in a sponsored, intensive workshop addressing a specific live challenge under conditions of complexity and rapid change. Our partner cities have included Bogotá, Recife, Taipei, Hanoi, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City. All housing and Urbanism students become part of a vibrant network of international urban learning.


DESIGN WORKSHOP, Terms 1,2 and 3


Sitting at the core of the Housing and Urbanism curriculum, this course teaches students to investigate, explore and respond to the urban process through design reasoning. Working in teams and in close collaboration with staff, students are introduced to a specific but complex set of challenges faced in London today through which they learn to understand, envision and initiate urban transformation through a project. We emphasise argument through design and the development of a capacity for comparison and evaluation. The course develops research, drawing and writing skills while encouraging collaboration, discussion and invention.




This course establishes the conceptual and theoretical foundations through which architecture brings a capacity for critical synthesis to the urban process. We learn how architects incorporate lessons from a range of fields – from geography to politics and philosophy – and draw these lessons into a reflection on urban form. Through a series of case examples, we will explore how the project comes to drive forward a critical response to the existing city and encourage evaluation and reflection.




Projects contain histories. Urban change is shaped by judgements and reactions to previous solutions. In this course, we explore a series of ongoing debates through which to gain an understating of the evolving nature of our cities. The material is organised around the specific themes and challenges with which the Design Workshop engages, enabling students to explore the broader disciplinary history of their particular areas of research.




There is a social and economic context to housing and urban change and, in this course, we introduce students to the key themes and debates that the social sciences bring to our understanding of this context. Placing an emphasis on policy, planning and urban governance, we enable students to understand how developments are shaped by transnational economic forces and their corresponding political debates.




Urbanism arose as a specific field of problems within the governments of Western, liberal societies and in this course we introduce students to this deeper political history that continues to play out in arguments about urban change. Lectures and readings are structured to enable architects to gain a fundamental understanding of politics and governance, resulting in a richer grasp of the complexity of contemporary urban problems.




Recent decades have seen a renewed interest in architect-designed housing. While the exterior has become more visible, the interior of dwellings has, by and large, been neglected. Housing does not consist merely of an envelope to which typical house plans are applied. Form and experience cannot be conveniently dissociated. To the contrary, the most committed architects conceive of housing form (outside as much as inside) as the source and guarantor of that experience. This course will review in detail some of the best housing projects built in the last one hundred years and ask what constitutes excellence in the field.




Informal and irregular processes are involved in the making of cities the world over and in some cities come to dominate much of their fabric. In this course, we will explore the way housing offers a strategic tool for intervention in these processes. By comparing a range of contemporary cases, we will assess design approaches and policy instruments associated with the transformation of informal urban areas.




The inner life of the dwelling is a scene of constant tension, speculation and evolution, and while the ideal of the family continues to stand at the core of this turbulence, a broad and increasing range of alternative living modes now demands attention. New patterns of shared living, assisted care, serviced residences and more all demand design evaluation and development. In this course, we explore both the history and the contemporary challenges of housing design and its transformation.




By the end of the second term, students will have decided upon their area of design research for the thesis. During Term 3, students present their initial research within seminars grouped around shared thematic interests. These seminars enable peer-based learning and collective discussion to complement directed and intensive individual research and design development.


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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


MA Housing & Urbanism (12 months): Second Class Honours or above honours degree in architecture or a related discipline from a British university, or an overseas qualification of equivalent standard (from a course no less than three years in a university or educational institution of university rank)


MArch Housing & Urbanism (16 months): Five-year professional degree in architecture or a related 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
MA: 12 months / MArch: 16 months
Jorge Fiori / Lawrence Barth
Not Confirmed
+44 (0)20 7887 4007
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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