2020/21 AA Diploma

Diploma unit at the Architectural Association to extend David Kohn Architects' practice-based research

David Kohn and Bushra Mohamed are continuing to lead their diploma unit 'Play for Today: The Performance of Architecture' at the Architectural Association.

When the UK Government lifted restrictions following the Covid-19 lockdown in May 2020, outdoor markets were amongst the first public venues to reopen. Scenes of the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, visiting a street market in Pimlico were widely broadcast to announce ‘lives returning to normal’. In doing so, the government was reminding audiences of the symbolic importance of markets that have been central to the growth of cities for the past 5,000 years. However, underlying the reassuring images is a wider ecosystem in crisis: markets encapsulate many of the challenges affecting contemporary society, from the role of public space to the degradation of the environment and the carbon footprint of logistics.

This year, Diploma 19 has studied the market both conventionally as a spatial type, and anthropologically through sound, transcriptions, photography and video recordings – capturing the atmosphere of the place and identifying the particular characteristics of its use. Building on the unit’s research into the relationship between theatre and architecture, we have focused on small-scale and human aspects of everyday life, on exchange and performance, and on the spaces of interaction between bodies. Through tools such as scripts, storyboards, sets, props, puppets and storytelling, we have condensed these moments and designed speculative markets of the future, which reflect contemporary ethical concerns alongside functional requirements. Central to each of these architectural proposals are first-hand observations of markets and miniature performances.

For more information about the unit follow the unit Instagram page @dkaxaa here.