This year the Architectural Association (AA) Visiting School programme will extend its reach to the Dutch city of Rotterdam – a place which, "by some strange twist of geographical and historical fate, has the highest concentration of architects and architectural thinkers in the world." The workshop, which will run for two weeks in July, will explore issues of inhabitance, perception, and intensity through analysis and creative interpretation of Rotterdam’s 'core' "or, more likely, its multiple cores, invisible to the untrained eye." Based in the Shell Tower on Hofplein, students will be afforded the opportunity to observe and analyse the city from on-high.
In a city which the organisers describe as "saturated by design," this AA Visiting School workshop "will focus first on learning how to look at, and how to notice, a notoriously non-descript city." Students of the workshop will create a newspaper, called The Normcore Times, which "will collect their work into a composite image of Rotterdam’s complex reality" before being publicly disseminated.
With a cocktail of famous architecture offices, benevolent institutions, intelligent think tanks, and abundant municipal infrastructure and resources, Rotterdam is subjected to a deluge of good intentions, contributing to the never-ending project – launched after the city’s near total destruction in the war – of establishing urban vibrancy. Recent acclaim for Rotterdam in the international press hints that it might just be starting to work. But the city’s accumulation of architectural icons, would-be icons, and different generations of ambitious urban thinking has had the paradoxical effect of flattening the experience of the city: its core ends up looking and feeling very normal.
The focus of the AA Visiting School workshop will be this core – and the notion of the urban core generally. This is also the focus of official municipal attempts at invigoration. Over two weeks of intensive critical fieldwork we will ask: are they looking in the right place for action when they look at the core? What exactly are we looking at? And how do we even look properly, as architects?
The workshop will run between the 6th and 17th July 2015 and is open to all current architecture and design students, PhD candidates and young professionals. Find out more about the application here (deadline 22nd June 2015).