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History

The DRL at the AA is a post-professional MArch (Architecture & Urbanism) graduate design programme at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, in London. The DRL is a studio-based design course teaching advanced architectural design. Each year it attracts talented architects from around the world, who come to the course to attain further post-graduate education in advanced architectural design and the relationship of architectural design to contemporary urbanism and urban settings, through the making of innovative architectural design projects.

The DRL is one of the world’s most international graduate design programmes.

The course was founded 1997 by Brett Steele, now director of the AA and Patrik Schumacher, partner at Zaha Hadid Architects. It is currently led by Theodore Spyropoulos who has served as a co-director from 2005-2009 and as the DRL’s sole director from 2009-present. The programme received its first validation in 1998. Since its inception the course has maintained its unique team-based approach to design. The overall direction of the programme continues to build upon its innovative teaching framework and can been seen in the development of the course and organisation that has evolved through the years into one of the world’s leading architectural and urban research laboratories. The course has continued to pursue innovation in the fields of computation, material behaviour, generative design, fabrication, prototyping and urban development.

Innovation as Collaboration: The Open Source Studio
All design projects within the AADRL are pursued as collective proposals undertaken in small, self-organised teams that address common topics through shared information-based diagrams, data, models and scripts. The DRL studio on Morwell Street is the centre for its team-based approach to teaching and learning. The AADRL focuses on the new forms of design thinking and skills needed to capture, control and shape an endless flow of information across these rapidly-evolving systems. The programme works in collaboration with Albert Taylor who is founding partner of the world-renowned engineering office Adams Kara Taylor. A dedicated a team of engineers works with the students in monthly sessions that enriches the scope of development of the students’ thesis development. Partnerships with leading production and manufacturing companies that have supported our research which have included Festo (leading robotics and actuation company), Materialise (advanced 3d printing), Rieder Co (fibre based concrete), amongst others.

During the past ten years many of the worlds most innovative architects, designers and theorists have visited the course as guests including: I Abalos, Stan Allen, Wiel Arets, Andrew Benjamin, Caroline Bos, Xaiver Costa, Peter Cook, Nathalie de Vries, Evan Douglis, Winka Dubbledam, Mark Goulthorpe, Nicholas Grimshaw, Zaha Hadid, Ross Lovegrove, Jeffery Kipnis, Tom Kovacs, Sanford Kwinter, Detlef Mertins, Charles Jencks, Rem Koolhaas, Bart Lootsma, Greg Lynn, Winy Maas, Farshid Moussavi, Wolf Prix, Jesse Reiser, Dagmar Richter, Robert Somol, Lars Spuybroek, Ben van Berkel, Tom Wiscombe and many others.