The year 1917 saw two defining moments for the Architectural Association of the present. The first saw the school moving its premises from the former Royal Architectural Museum to Bedford Square; while the second was at the General Meeting of 17 July, when a proposal was made to alter the bylaws to admit women as students. Four women were in the first intake of 1917-18.
AA XX 100 is an ongoing multi-media project building up to the centenary of women at the school (1917-2017) â€“ to represent and celebrate the work of these graduates and teachers who are among the most important architects, designers, educators and historians of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The project invites students across generations to collaborate in bringing the mostly unwritten history of female AA alumni to light. Up until now, these womenâ€™s individual practices, as well as collaborations and activities have often been overlooked by mainstream design studies. A closer look reveals a fascinating history of strong and often unusual characters whose work has shaped the profession as well as the AA as we know it today.
The workshop on Monday, 3November (10 am â€“ 6 pm, in the New Soft Room) includes a general introduction to the research methods of the AA XX 100 project, with a focus on the transcription of two interviews. The two interviewees are alumni Inette Austin-Smith and Jean Symons, who both studied at the AA during the 1940s. These interviews were conducted by AA XX 100 members Yasmin Shariff, Hannah Durham and Samantha Lee.
Inette Austin-Smith went on to establish her practice â€˜Austin-Smith: Lord Architectsâ€™ together with her husband, Michael Austin-Smith. In 1999 they celebrated the practiceâ€™s 50thÂ anniversary. As a student, Jean Symons worked as a technical assistant for the Royal Festival Hall for fifteen months before graduation. Her recollections were published in an article â€œConcert Hall notebook: a record of fifteen months on siteâ€ in AA Files 40. Jean continued working on hospital buildings and day care centres throughout her career and was awarded the Gold Medal from the Royal College of Physicians.
Participating students will not only learn more about these amazing women, but also will make an important contribution to the growing body of research building up to the 100 year anniversary in 2017. We hope through this to spark some renewed interest in the lives and careers of Jean and Inette.
Text from: AA Conversations: TRANSCRIPTION WORKSHOP