A-A Collective
Facing contemporary global complexity
Basel, CH; Copenhagen, DE; Warsaw, PL

A-A Collective is an interdisciplinary practice focused on architecture with members in Basel, Copenhagen and Warsaw. The collective came together in Switzerland and operates from 3 different countries by putting together local backgrounds and knowledge to face the contemporary global complexity. The collective is a group of professionals who find an interdisciplinary approach fundamental to push the boundaries of the practice.

Maintaining an open attitude

The practice came together in the Swiss Alps where we met through academic and professional experiences in Mendrisio and Basel. It started out as a friendship, and eventually we did a competition for the Central Square of Warsaw, and we won it! We had no name, no website and no clear idea about anything. We still try to keep this open mentality because we like to think that it helps us do what we want, when we want and where we want.

 

Winning by a stroke of luck

We were invited to a meeting with the municipality in Warsaw during the second phase of the competition for the Central Square. It was a formal meeting about bureaucratic issues, so we decided to bring a lawyer. At that point we had no experiences with contracts and legal matters, so it seemed like the right thing to do. When we arrived, the other teams showed up in the town hall with huge models, drawings and beautiful presentations. And all we had was our lawyer, Marek (he is great by the way). Right then we were sure that we had already lost the competition. One of our partners, Zygmunt who was presenting the project, was the only one of us who spoke Polish, so when we entered the room, a lot of talking ensued and most of us really understood nothing. We only noticed that everybody was happy and there was also some laughing going on. We still don’t know exactly what was being presented, but we laughed when everybody else was laughing and we won in the end!

 

Forgoing the routine life

When you are a young office like us, there are hardly any routines. Everything is new and exciting. Some of us also teach and write as journalists, so no day is ever the same and the normal five-workday weeks were never something we pursued… but we try not to work on Sundays! Besides this, it's all about skype and EasyJet.

 

Tools for a virtual workspace

We have no main office space, and no physical infrastructure. We operate virtually and move where needed. We are four partners located in three different countries and that gives us an enormous flexibility and a fair share of nomadic lifestyle. Now we have started to like the freedom that comes with this lifestyle. Part of our practice’s agenda is to question the organisation of a conventional office. A powerful laptop, Skype and Google Drive will get you a long way in the 21st century!

 

Embracing the true nature of a collective

There is literally no way to foresee what will happen once you start an office. Sure we started with ideas and expectations but rapidly reality took over. Now we try to concentrate on the topics and projects that we are facing, and not on ideals or expectations of what A-A Collective should be. If one is chasing a concept or an expectation the whole operation becomes stiff. We try to avoid that by all means.

 

Upcoming milestones

The next year is all about realising projects and creating physical output. Warsaw Central Square is of course our biggest project, but also in Denmark we have some interesting projects coming up and the Venice Biennale 2021 is also a big deal. We operate in all fields of architecture: practice, research, writing and teaching, but in the coming years, we want to put more projects into the real world and see how we respond.



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Photography courtesy of A-A Collective






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