Hernán Díaz Alonso introduces Eva Franch i Gilabert by comparing her work as director of the Architectural Association to that of a music producer. Franch asks What is the role of architecture today? The architect? How do we, as architects, respond? While most practitioners tend to be
Enablers, Iconographers, or Agitators, she insists that what’s needed is to be all three, plus Utopianizers. For Franch, the most productive starting point today is what she terms “radical empathy,” seeing the collective as oneself.
Franch proposes viewing contemporary architecture comprehensively, not selectively; taking account of all architectural production—“the good, the bad, and the ugly”—instead of focusing only on a handful of favored practices. She describes how these issues were explored in the exhibition she cocurated with OfficeUS for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, and the accompanying book OfficeUS Manual.
Franch organizes her discussion of the AA’s pedagogies and programs according to a lexicon, or “new terms of engagement.” She presents student projects, AA programs, their Hooke Park campus, and special-focus programs via an alphabetical survey of Aesthetics, Border, Commons, Care, Democracy, Education, Ethics, Flexibility, Geography, Global, Histories, Home, Intelligence, Justice, Nature, Ownership, Power, Practice, Protocols, Resistance, Solidarity, Sustainability, Territory, Translation, Urban, Virtual, Waste, XXX, and Youth.