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The four terms of study in the AADRL are divided into two phases. Phase 1 consists of a first three-term academic year beginning in September, which introduces skills, topics and objectives in a combination of team-based studio, workshop and seminar courses. During Phase 2, beginning the following September, small self-organised design teams carry forward the first years work in the form of a comprehensive thesis design projects presented at the end of January to the entire AA School community, as well as a panel of internationally-distinguished visitors. All work completed in both phases is documented in a final book-length monograph made by each team following their thesis presentation.

Design Methods

Operative Intelligence: Studies on Material Performance
One of the primary areas of research the AADRL pursues is the interrelationship between material and digital methods of exploring material behaviours. Material performance is examined through physical models that tease out local behaviours and principles that in turn act as feedback mechanisms for teams to test and develop their design proposals. Teams use advanced forms of scripting and simulation to develop systems that are informed and tested through digital performance simulations. This is furthered through the development of mapping and analysis techniques that explore generative systems of development.

The design process of our current agenda seeks to bridge the gap between digital techniques/modeling and the acts of making. One avenue for exploring this is through the production of prototypes and installations that allow the teams a working environment to test and observe user responses and patterns of use within full-scale working models. During the past five years the AADRL has installed theses spaces in a series of different exhibitions as well as within their own studio space.