The "Sensitive Observation Seminar Series" organized by Ila Bêka, Louise Lemoine and Gili Merin within their Diploma unit at the AA School of Architecture in London 2020/2021, will host during the year a series of guests from different fields - architects, filmmakers, photographers, artists, philosophers, writers, anthropologists and other outsiders of "categories" - who will discuss their own practice, research and working methodology.

In close relation to the unit's studio work and production of films, the seminar will attempt to define what sensitive observation means in order to enlighten the social, political and poetical importance of such practices within architectural education and our profession at large.


In perfect line with the seminar's intention to define what can be sensitive observation in the urban, Thomas Daniell presents a historical overview of the genealogy of Japanese street observers from the 1920s "Modernology" of architect Wajirō Kon, to the 1970s "Thomasson" objects of artist Genpei Akasegawa, the 1980s "Street Observation" of the ROJO group, and the 1990s "Pet Architecture" of Atelier Bow-Wow.

Thomas Daniell is Professor of Architectural History, Theory and Criticism at Kyoto University Japan. A frequent contributor to AA Files, his most recent book is An Anatomy of Influence (AA Publications, 2018).

Watch this Lecture


The author of "Life of Plants," "Metamorphosis" and "Sensible Life" questions space and perception: is space the object of our perception or matter that perceives in itself?

"We usually imagine space as the object of perception: extended and inanimate matter that the five senses allow us to transform into experience. Instead, I would like to try to demonstrate that what we call space is an immense sensorium that does not wait for our senses to open up to transform the world into experience. The whole space feels and all that it feels lives spatially".

Emanuele Coccia is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and formerly taught in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, Columbia University in New York, and the Universities of Buenos Aires, Dusseldorf, Tokyo and Weimar.

Watch this Lecture


Cinema was born at the turn of the 20th century, as did the modern metropolis. Since then, it has been a privileged observer of the urban phenomenon. In this lecture, Camille Bui intends to show how urban documentary filmmaking evolved from a plastic translation of the rhythm of big cities by the avant-garde in the 1920s, to the lived encounter with city dwellers and the listening of their voices by direct cinema filmmakers since the 1960s and until today.

Camille Bui is Associate Professor in Film Studies at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. In 2018, she published the book: Cinepractices of the City. Documentary and Urbanity after Chronicle of a Summer (Presses Universitaires de Provence).

Watch this Lecture


Major filmmaker of our times, Wang Bing is internationally acclaimed for his documentaries that show the downsides and indirect repercussions of the rapid and profound changes in contemporary Chinese society.

Through excerpts of some of his most well-known films ("West of the tracks", "The Three Sisters", "The Ditch" and "Man with No Name"), Wang Bing will look back on 20 years of intense and radical artistic commitment, discussing his working methodology and specific understanding of documentary filmmaking.

Through patient attention and subtle listening to the slightest gesture and inflection of body language, Wang Bing's cinema plunges us as close as possible in the daily intimacy of anonymous people, in fragile and precarious situations, usually invisible and left out of the scope of official representation.

Watch this Lecture


Historical exploration of the act of walking from primitive forms of nomadism up to French Situationism.
Francesco Careri is co-founder of Stalker/Nomad Observatory

Francesco Careri is an Associate Professor of Urban and Architectural Design at Roma Tre University where he is co-director of Master Environmental Humanities and Master Performing Arts and Communitarian Spaces. He is co-founder of Stalker, with which since 1995 he experiments actions and research in the multicultural city. Since 2006 he runs the Civic Arts, a peripatetic laboratory grounded in walking explorations of emerging phenomena.

He is currently scientific co-responsible together with Giovanni Caudo, of the Laboratorio di Città Corviale and together with Fabrizio Finucci of LaboratorioCIRCO. He published Constant. New Babylon, una Città Nomade, Testo & Immagine 2001; Walkscapes. Walking as an Aesthetic Practice, Editorial Gustavo Gili 2002, Culicidade 2016; Pasear, detenerse, Gustavo Gili 2016, and with Lorenzo Romito, Stalker/Campus Rom, Altrimedia 2017.

Watch this Lecture


Acclaimed landscape designer, author of The Garden in Movement, The Planetary Garden and The Third Landscape, Gilles Clément gives a lecture on the art of seeing.

In search of wonder and visual surprises along his numerous travels around the world, Gilles Clément published in Traité succinct de l'art involontaire (Sens et Tonka, France, 2014) his collection of photographs and drawings depicting fragile situations, subtle circumstances, and ephemeral traces of interactions between man and nature. These unintentional and anonymous poetical moments is what he calls « involuntary art ».

Landscape designer, writer and educator, Gilles Clément's work has reached international recognition for a great number of gardens among which: Parc André Citroën in Paris (1992), Parc Henri Matisse in Lille (2003), the Gardens of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris (2003), the Gardens of the Domaine du Rayol in the Var region in France. He has also developed important theoretical research. His main publications include: « The Garden in Movement » (1991), « The Planetary Garden » (1999) and « The Third Landscape » (2004).

Watch this Lecture


Architect, artist and designer, Ugo La Pietra is a major figure of the Italian radical design movement of the 1960'. His work defies all categories as he spent his life fighting against partition between disciplines, exploring a wide range of formal expressions and artistic languages.

Using photography, film, drawings, cartographies, and other « decoding tools », his practice aims to break behavioural habits and equilibriums in order to establish a new relationship between the individual and the urban environment, based on a process of appropriation that he calls « Inhabiting the city ».

Watch this Lecture