The flexible, self-directed curricula on offer at the school, combined with the independence and truly global nature of the institution, afford the Architectural Association (AA) a rare degree of awareness in acknowledging and confronting the social, technological and cultural challenges of today. Comprised of approximately 800 full-time students, over 7000 members, 250 tutors and 100 administrative staff from all over the world, the association and its membership share eight Georgian houses in the centre of London, as well as a 350-acre woodland site at Hooke Park, in Dorset.
The AA was established as a student-centred collective in 1847. It aimed to challenge the established ways in which architecture was taught, argued and theorised at the time and urged its members to reconsider the commonplace social and cultural responsibilities of the profession at large – aspirations that remain at the heart of the school today.
Originally occupying a local inn, the AA grew from an occasional night school to a self-governed educational institution with a burgeoning global reputation. By the beginning of the twentieth century it had become the first full-time, professional day school for architectural study in the country, and provided one of the first specialised diplomas of its kind in Europe. In 1917 the school moved to Bedford Square where it remains to this day, surrounded by some of the most prominent research institutions in the world.
Still self-funded and independent, the institution has evolved significantly over the last century, and its alumni have made some of the most significant contributions not only to the architectural profession, but to many other cultural and scientific fields as well. The AA continues to foster creative potential, critical freedom and radical cultural enterprise with the same rigour and commitment as when it was founded.