Commissioned by then President Alex Lifschutz in 2010, Wright & Wright implemented a phased, long-term strategic masterplan that consolidated the Architectural Association as a physical, institutional and cultural entity.
Informed by forensic investigation into the history of the Bedford Square buildings and the AA’s occupation of them, the masterplan was able to unfold in various ways, rationalising and reallocating spaces while causing minimum disruption to the school. The project successfully extended the existing form of the building, like an organism growing and changing.
The domestic scale, which helped to catalyse informal encounter and incident, has characterised the AA over its long history, and was retained throughout. The building’s proportions, play of light and delicate detailing are a sensory delight, and thoughtful alterations to the historic fabric provide the interior spaces with renewed vitality.
Founded in 1847, the Architectural Association has always been a place of independent thought. Discourse and debate are highly prized, and ideas constantly explored through making and drawing. The school's central London location and its buildings have been no less formative.
Since moving to Bedford Square in 1917, the Architectural Association has developed a worldwide reputation, and this success and sense of self are intimately bound up with its home here. The adaptation of the original residential buildings created a sense of camping-out impermanence, reminiscent of the so-called ‘found space’ favoured in theatrical circles as a spur to creativity - in this case, in a remarkable example of Georgian domestic architecture.
Wright & Wrights tactfully phased development plan for the AA fuses the rational with the romantic to remake and reinvigorate a key intellectual and cultural constituent of London's architectural scene.
The Georgian Corridor
One of a number of archetypal spaces within the AA, the stairs, the centrally located bar, the courtyards, create a sense of convivial creativity; the new corridor is an ‘unlocking’ element providing new connections, legibility and accessibility.
Cramped and crowded basement spaces were transformed into open and airy spaces where cutting-edge technology could be safely housed.