Alex Haw            

architect, videomaker, ATMOS, Architectural Association (UK)

Biological Urbanism

Keywords:   space, architecture, urbanism, time, flow, performance, climate, energy, environment, sustainability, ephemeral, ambient, biology, body, senses, experience, technology

My presentation will discuss the work of my design studio at the Architectural Association, Diploma unit 13. Our ongoing research experiments with the generation of urban networks and architectural structures from the environmental performance of the human body, pursuing an urbanism rooted in biological stimulation and response. My talk will present a series of projects as speculative arguments within the subtext of an over-riding thesis - that excitement of the retina by sculptural formalism is a tiny fragment of the overall sensorial role played by architecture and the city, and that the physical effects of our spatial surroundings are more powerfully felt and disseminated through invisible and ephemeral means than through the solidity of what we traditionally call buildings.  

Our work explores architecture as the construction of artificial environments and the distortion of local climate and temporality. The architectures we produce are construed as inseparable in time and space from the landscapes that surround and invade them. These landscapes are in turn seen as both material and immaterial, terrestrial and aerial, solid and fleeting, continually exchanging within a network of inputs and outputs. Our major research last year interrogated the platitude of the urban beach, whilst this year we have begun to explore a more subversive approach to sustainability with our response to Monaco's recent call for an ecological masterplan.


Alex Haw is an architect, teacher, writer and videomaker operating at the intersection of design, research, art and the urban environment. He runs ATMOS, a collaborative experimental practice which produces a range of architecture including private houses, installations and larger public commissions. He runs a masters design studio (co-run last year with Philippe Rahm) at the Architectural Association which investigates the constructions of architectural climates, ephemeral notational systems and the seasonality of atmospheric space; the year-long investigation this year pursues a new conceptual urbanism for Monaco generated from the performative environmental capacity of the body. He also runs a design studio at Cambridge University investigating the design of new domestic units contaminated with public programme, and the proliferation of new environmental networks across London. His videos investigate the temporal nature of various spaces, focussing on the intersection of architecture, culture, time and the environment. He writes for several magazines including AAFiles, Blueprint, Contemporary and Kultureflash. He studied at the Bartlett, UCL and obtained a Masters with a Fulbright from Princeton. He has worked for Richard Rogers, Nicholas Grimshaws and Diller+Scofidio on a range of urban projects. Having trained briefly as an actor, he played a lead in Christopher Nolan's 1 st film, Following .