Educational therapy

Wednesday 14 Mar 2012

Secondary school for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders, phase 2 of Southwark's BSF

AOC is a practice of architects, urbanists and cultural interpreters, established in 2003 by Tom Coward, Daisy Froud, Vincent Lacovara and Geoff Shearcroft.

“One of the most promising, successful new practices in British architecture” (The Times), their architecture is both robustly pragmatic and beautifully imaginative. Aoc embrace challenging projects and encourage clients to be demanding, generating open, honest, generous proposals in response.

Interested by the ways in which other forces and factors, besides architects, shape places, they are committed to delivering projects that fully engage with and respond to the context – cultural, social, environmental and political - in which they are set.  Aoc approach projects through rigorous dialogue and research, enjoying and exploring the participation of others at every stage - while building the brief, during construction, and throughout occupation. They believe that a broader conversation creates a richer and more bespoke architectural response.

Aoc organisational structure stimulates this conversation in two ways: the presence of AOC Participation, a distinct in-house unit specialising in consultation techniques and participatory methods; and the active placement of individuals in other organisations - as project managers, advisors and teachers - for the exchange of knowledge and the building of communities of interest. Early projects, including the New Centre for Architecture in London, a rural retreat for Stephen Daldry, a ‘house to stimulate different modes of thinking’ for Alain de Botton and a series of successful competition wins, brought AOC to the attention of a wide range of clients.

Realised projects include Spa School, Southwark, for secondary pupils with autism; Langley Hall Primary Academy, Berkshire, a new free school in a Grade 2 listed building; the redevelopment of Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds; the consultative process, design and realisation of the Lift, a demountable performance space for 200 people; No.1 Lower Carbon Drive, a touring exhibition for the London Development Agency; the Janet Summers’ Early Years Centre, Southwark; the Hearth House; and an urban regeneration game for Building Futures/RIBA and CABE. Current work includes a secondary school and primary school in Southwark; a new studio and workshop for the National Theatre; and a community centre and new family housing in South London.

Aoc's work has been internationally published and exhibited in leading museums and galleries, including the Venice Biennale 2008, Moscow NEXT 2011, Buenos Aires Biennial 2011 and a solo show at the British School of Rome.  They have taught at many leading schools of architecture, including London Metropolitan, the Bartlett and the Architectural Association, and were the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Professors at Yale in 2011.  Aoc also regularly lecture in the UK, Europe and USA and contribute to contemporary architectural culture through published articles and public debate.

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