Master in Research Architecture—Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths

Master in Research Architecture—Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths

Goldsmiths, University of London

June 6, 2011
Master in Research Architecture—Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths

The Centre for Research Architecture sets out to question the two separate terms that constitute its title. Specifically it seeks to open up the discipline and praxis of  ‘architecture’—understood as the production of rarefied buildings and urban structures—into a shifting network of ‘spatial practices’ that includes many other forms of intervention. Moreover it contests the utilitarian, applied, means-to-ends relation between knowledge and action that is evoked by the term ‘research’ and the artificial opposition between theory and practice it implies. Drawing on the vocabularies of urbanism, architecture, art, media, politics, and philosophy the centre’s mode of operation aims to use spatial practices for an open-ended form of critical inquiry. The centre recruits graduates from a wide range of fields as well as non-academic practitioners of distinction wishing to pursue practice-led research within the context of theoretical work.


The MA programme has been developed to allow members to combine theoretical inquiry with critical spatial production. Lectures, seminars and workshops equip members with a rigorous grounding in spatial theory. The theoretical course provides a thorough coverage of the historical, philosophical, and technological aspects of the intersection of space, power, and conflict. This programme is orientated towards graduates who want to undertake training in research architecture before proceeding to PhD study, or to pursue and/or enhance a career in spatial practices. As with our world-renowned MPhil / PhD track, our MA programme draws a multidisciplinary mix of innovative architects and other spatial practitioners, albeit in the early stages of their careers.


Call for applications for the 2011-MA Programme are open until the end of July


Additional Information


Programme Structure


Introduction to Architectural Research


The introductory part of this course, lead by architecture theorist Andy Lowe, lasts five weeks and provides you with a foundation in architectural research and critical spatial theory. It covers the work of several important protagonists—writers, artists, curators, activists, and architects—who explored space, especially urban space, as a medium of power and resistance and projected the city as an object of investigation and a site of intervention.


Studio Seminar


In this Seminar, convened and taught by architect and urbanist John Palmesino the conceptual and practical tools for the studio projects are developed. The course analyses the relation between transformations in contemporary polities and transformations of the material and spatial configurations of inhabited territories. Using architecture as both the object and method of research, your work will map the ways in which multiple agents interact in the transformation of contemporary space. You will engage in an individual research project developed through individual tutorials with the centre’s staff and workshops, and in general meetings where your work will be discussed in a common forum. Research products could take the form of a film, an illustrated book or a mapping project. Research actively engages with spatial practice and theory, and concentrates on an in-depth analysis of distinct issue, process or site. In particular, the course will focus on complex processes of development of the relation between authority and space, analysing the spatial and territorial dimensions of the works of international organisations, NGOs, and local institutions in the wake of humanitarian interventions. This project forms the core of the MA Dissertation, which you submit at the end of the programme.


Site Visit


The Studio Seminar includes a site visit. Every year the MA classes will travel to a place of contemporary interest. These are generally sites of intense political and cultural resonance to architecture and spatial practices. Recent seminars and trips took place in Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine, New York, as well as to the United Nations (Geneva), EU-Institutions, International Court of Justice, ICTY and the International Criminal Court.


Conflicts and Negotiations


This course, convened by architect Paulo Tavares (with the participation of Eyal Weizman and Susan Schuppli) provides the main theoretical component of the MA. The course offers readings of contemporary political issues as relations in space. Political and social conflicts will be shown to play themselves out within a constructed, real or imaginary architecture and through the representation, organisation, transformation, erasure, and subversion of space. We discuss social and political conflicts as they register themselves in the transformation of the built urban environment, shifting the scale of our investigation from the architectural to the urban and the territorial, dealing with the spatial dimension of geopolitical conflicts. From the micro scale of architectural details to the macro scale of borders and global flows, space will be analysed as an elastic medium constantly reshaped by political forces.


Centre Team


John Palmesino, Studio Seminar Convener
Paulo Tavares, Conflicts & Negotiations Convener and MA Coordinator
Andy Lowe, Lecturer
Ayesha Hameed, Postdoctoral Fellow
Susan Schuppli, Senior Fellow – Forensic Architecture Project
Eyal Weizman, Centre Director


Research Fellows


Alessandro Petti, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Thomas Keenan, Anselm Franke


Recent Guests and Critique Members


Thomas Keenan, AbdouMaliq Simone, Renzo Martens, Peter Hallward, Fareed Armaly, Ursula Biemann, Hito Steyrel, Grupa Spomenika, China Mieville, Laura Kurgan, Scott Lash, Sina Najafi, Irit Rogoff, Alberto Toscano, Boris Buden, Stefano Harney, Gilles Peress, Sandro Mezzadra, Maurizio Lazzarato, and more.


MARA Research Projects 


Research Project: Forensic Architecture


The Centre for Research Architecture is engaged in a four-year ERC-funded project entitled Forensic Architecture. The project is organized around a series of international seminars and workshops with distinguished practitioners in the field, publications, and exhibitions. Members of the Centre undertaking the MA will participate in the activities developed throughout the project.


“Because violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and human right (HR) conventions are frequently undertaken in cities and by means that deliberately manipulate the elements that constitute their built fabric, this project contends that organizations employing HR and IHL could benefit from a closer engagement with the operational procedures, conceptual assumptions, methodologies, and technologies of urban and architectural analysis. Legal claims of the kind that are brought to international courts and tribunals or made to circulate within the general media often invoke images of destroyed buildings or of menacing new constructions, but these are too often treated merely as self-evident illustrations of atrocity. This project attempts to transform the built environment from an illustration of alleged violations to a source of knowledge about them and a resource through which controversial events and political processes could be reconstructed, analyzed and better understood. The project is driven by the introduction of a new operative concept—”Forensic Architecture” (FA)—which is proposed as a field of practice and as an analytical method for probing the political and social histories inscribed in spatial artefacts and in built environments.”


Forensic Architecture Administrator (position available)


Academic Environment


The Centre for Research Architecture is part of the Department of Visual Cultures, a culturally diverse and intellectually challenging environment for exploring and producing new forms of contemporary art-theoretical practice. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, VC look at art in an international context and consider the ways in which it engages with urgent social, cultural and political issues in the world today. The department is well known for its experimental and innovative engagement in the field of visual culture within a framework of critical theory, philosophy and cultural studies. Included are issues of cultural difference, performativity, visual display, aurality, encounters with audiences, spatial practices and the production of subjectivities. As a member of the MA in RA, you will have the opportunity to participate in a weekly-lectures programme and long-day workshops and other activities organized by the department.


How to apply:


Taught programmes usually start in late September. Send us your application as early as possible. Even if you haven’t finished your current programme of study it’s very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. Places in the MA in Research Architecture are very competitive. They are not limited to graduates of architecture, but open to a range of other disciplines provided that you have, or expect to gain, an undergraduate degree of at least second-class standard.


A good portfolio of practical and/or scholarly work, as well as experience in conducting research and a demonstrable interest in critical spatial practices, are essential.


Online applications and more information are available at:


Home/EU applicants
T +44 (0)20 7078 5300
T +44 (0)20 7919 7537 (24 hours)
e-mail [email protected] 


International (non-EU) applicants
T +44 (0)20 7919 7702
T +44 (0)20 7919 7273 (24 hours)
[email protected]




Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW, UK
Telephone: + 44 (0)20 7919 7171


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June 6, 2011

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