AA & U, For Architecture, Art and Urbanism is an agency for interdisciplinary activities regarding the public domain.
It was born out from collaborations of Socrates Stratis with architects and visual artists. It has a variable size depending on the projects undertaken. The main founding member is Socrates Stratis, Dr. architect, urbanist assistant professor at the Department of Architecture, University of Cyprus with Maria Loizidou, as partner for visual arts. Riccardo Urbano architect has being participating in most of the projects’ study teams. AA & U addresses mostly issues of publicness at urban-architectural scale, producing knowledge by design which is constantly fed back in the project making processes. The AA & U spatial practice is bound by an horizontal approach across architecture, urbanism and support structures. A lot of AA & U clients are public authorities such as Heraklion, Crete Greece, Athienou, Limassol, Planning Department and Housing in Cyprus, etc.
The work of AA &U has been published internationally and has been exhibited in both 9th and voof projects such as and public spaces, infrastructures and parks, cultural and municipal centres as well as residents. AA & U has won several prizes in European and Cypriot architectural competitions.
AA & U is inscribed in a socially engaged practice. Both the interweaving of scales and the heterogeneity of modes of operation give a hybrid character to such practice. Therefore, we have decided to organise the website in such a way as to demonstrate how each project that is created by AA & U has in its genes both "Architecture", "Urban" and "Support Structures" in various degrees. We aim to demonstrate the transversal AA & U approach by encouraging multiple entries to the projects depending on the reader’s priorities.
There are therefore four entries: Urban, Architecture, Support Structures plus a way to see the projects in their entirety: By Project Entry. The first three entries are supported by published articles. They either refer explicitly to the AA & U projects or they have broader subjects, written by Socrates Stratis and other AA & U collaborators.
Spatial practicing through the materialisation and the multiple linking of the designed project to its urban environment, the landscape but also to all kinds of architectural references. It is about those friezing moments of design processes taking shape through the creation of all sorts of relations among the actors involved both human and non-human.
Introducing larger entities such as networks, natural landscapes or urban formations into the limited project territory by strategies and tactics. Engaging the actors, both humans and non-humans, that are connected to such larger entities into the project by introducing new relations of physical, temporal and pragmatic dimensions.
Spatial Agents of social assistance and criticism. Design processes are engaged with the political dimension of urban conditions. Their outputs become critical statements even if they don’t have the power to considerable change, they point towards new alternatives. It is through the ‘Support Structures’ that the visual arts is introduced into the ‘Urban’ and into the ‘Architecture’.
I am a PhD architect, urbanist, and activist for the urban commons, Associate Professor, at the Department of Architecture, University of Cyprus. My research focuses on the political agencies of architecture and urban design. I study the strategic value of urban design, as well as the social dimensions of architecture plus, the ways they both transform into critical urban practices. I oscillate between practice and research, thanks to entanglements between teaching, practising, curating, and writing. I enrich my research by operating in a highly contested territory, such as the Cypriot one, plus by having an active contribution to the becoming of young European urban design practices through my scientific position in EUROPAN Europe. I am one of the main founders of the critical urban practice agency AA & U, Cyprus. The “Guide to Common Urban Imaginaries in Contested Spaces”, jovis. 2016 is one of my main editorial works. My curatorial and activist work involves the Cyprus participation in the 15th Venice Biennale of Architecture, (www.contestedfronts.org), as well as the “Hands-on Famagusta” project (www.handsonfamagusta.org).
She is a visual artist, graduated from the Ecole des Beaux Art de Lyon with the “Prix de Paris” in the 1980s. She was resident at the Cité des Arts in Paris for several years. Her work has to do with the power of fragility. She has been collaborating with various museums and foundations across Europe, with exhibitions, educational programs, conferences and workshops . She has participated in many individual and group international art exhibitions including the Venice Biennale of Art and of Architecture.
He graduated from the University of Genoa, Italy in 2000. He also teaches part time at the University of Nicosia.
She received her Architecture degree from the University of Cyprus and her Master in Urban Design from UCL, UK
He received his diploma of architecture from the University of Cyprus.
Eleni holds a diploma of architecture from the University of Cyprus
AA&U for Architecture, Art and Urbanism is one of the partners both for the content of the Cyprus Pavilion (the "Hands-on Famagusta" project), entitled "Contested Fronts: Commoning Practices for Conflict Transformation" curated by Socrates Stratis, as well as for the design and implementation of the exhibition at Palazzo Malipiero. Images by DSL studio
Order your "Guide to Common Urban Imaginaries in Contested Spaces: the Hands-on Famagusta project" coming out this month by jovis, Berlin edited by Socrates Stratis at https://www.jovis.de/en/books/guide-to-common-urban-imaginaries-in-contested-spaces.html Can collective urban practices contribute to peace processes in divided cities? How can they be used in a targeted manner as part of urban policy, to challenge dominant divisive narratives and offer alternatives to segregating urban reconstruction approaches? The book is dedicated to this role of architecture and urban planning as a political instrument for transforming ethnic conflicts into urban controversies towards the city’s commons. The town of Famagusta in Cyprus serves as an example, a town characterized by polarizing narratives and burdened by memories loaded with conflict. In order to transform the contested territories into areas of common interest and action, the “Hands-on Famagusta“ project team developed methods for urban transformation. The guide brings together practical examples of this project and international articles from relevant literature, thereby communicating strategies and tactics for the formation and spatial organization of the collective. It actively encourages deeply contested societies to invest in common urban imaginaries. Socrates Stratis is the curator of the Cyprus Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Biennial 2016 in Venice with the project entitled “Contested Fronts: Commoning Practices for Conflict Transformation”. The “Hands-on Famagusta” project is the main part of the Cyprus Pavilion together with six international practices, networks and pedagogical programs: “Archis Interventions SEE”, “Build Up”, “City Reparo”, “Institute of Threshold”, “Mapping Controversies”, “Passages”.
Projecting Common Urban Future for a Post-Conflict Famagusta ---------------------------- Launch Event: Saturday, November 28th, 2015 - from 17:00 Venue: Sts. Peter and Paul church / Buğday Cami, Famagusta ---------------------------- The Hands-on Famagusta project team cordially invites you to the launch event for the Model of the whole city of Famagusta and the Tri-Lingual Web Platform (www.handsonfamagusta.org). The event is set to take place on November 28th, 2015 - from 17:00 at the Sts. Peter and Paul church / Buğday Cami in Famagusta. The exhibits will remain open for the public from 27 – 29 of November, 2015, from 10:00 – 18:00.
The model of the whole city of Famagusta in a successful "Avant Première" on the side walk in front of the Department of Architecture, University of Cyprus, on Friday 20th of November 2015. The "Hands-on Famagusta" team was promoting, to the passers-by, the Launch event that will take place on the 28th of November in Sts Peter and Paul Church in the old city of Famagusta.
On Saturday, 17th of October a group of Greek Speaking and Turkish Speaking Cypriots gathered in the old city of Famagusta hosted by Masder to discuss about the forthcoming translation of the Hands-on Famagusta web-platform into Turkish and Greek.
Must watch! 15 minutes of in-depth Hands-on Famagusta: Socrates Stratis and Emre Akbil were guests at Sigmalive with Eftyhia Andreou
Socrates Stratis with Esra Can Akbil, gave a Key Note speech at the international conference Build Peace 2015 in Nicosia Cyprus. They talked about the Hands-on Famagusta web-platform addressing the the role of technology to Build Peace, one of the main concerns of the conference. AA&U is actively involved in the making of the project as well as the graphic design of the webplatform. http://howtobuildpeace.org/
Get ready for frequent flights to unexpected territories. The Action Dove, the Hands-on Famagusta logo, is gradually getting graffiti presence on urban walls.
Hands-on Famagusta Video Release! "If you could decide now about the future of Famagusta in a reunified Cyprus, then get ready to explore and play with Imaginaries of Famagusta!" Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw64qtPB9ew
The AA & U proposal entitled "Open City" gained an honorable mention to the Architectural Competition about the connection between the Archeological sites in Paphos.
Socrates was invited by Costas Constantinou and Maria Hatzipavlou to give a talk in the context of an International Summer Program of the University of Cyprus on Peace and Conflict: the life of the buffer zone. Socrates presented his research on architecture's agencies that have a critical take on the buffer zone. He showed some of AA & U's projects that address such issues.
On another track, Socrates Stratis, founder of the interdisciplinary agency of AA & U (For Architecture, Art and Urbanism), is among the few to establish networks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot professionals. In the Imaginary Famagusta project (2012), a team of architects and urbanists explored planning processes about the future of Famagusta after a possible political resolution in Cyprus, proposing urban strategies and tactics as reconciliation practices in contested territories. (By Petros Phokaides)
The “Hands-on-Famagusta” project comprises of inter-related activities, which use participatory urban design processes to facilitate dialogue about the urban future of Famagusta. The project contributes to the construction of common ground between groups in conflict and supports the planning of contemporary urban environments. It is based on the on-going work by the Laboratory of Urbanism, University of Cyprus (LU2CY), Imaginary Famagusta (I.F.), and ALA/Stratis. The “IF Team” (Imaginary Famagusta Team) is an initiative started by a group of architects and urban planners handling the Hands-On Famagusta project. The “IF Team” will be responsible for: the project coordination, development of urban tools and website content, web design and game interface coordination. Project Leader: Socrates Stratis Project Coordination Team: Emre Akbil, Esra Can Akbil, Nektarios Christodolou, Munevver Ozgur Ozersay Production Team: Chrysanthe Constantinou ( AA&U) Thalia Charalambous, ( AA&U) Architecture students and young graduates
Part of the presentation was about the role of chrono-urbanistic practices in creating active co-existences in the contemporary urban environment. Socrates used examples from the international project "Urban-A-Where?" that he curated. AA & U designed the mobile exhibition to support the event plus the "Magic Carpet" that was unfolded across streets in Nicosia to celebrated pedestrian crossing.
Maria Loizidou's curating proposal titled "Directly Mild" with the exhibition design by Socrates Stratis (AA&U) has been selected one of the twenty finalists of Curate, the global competition promoted by Qatar Museums Authority and Fondazione Prada http://www.curateaward.org
University of Cyprus, Department of Architecture Bernd Vlay presents the international publication "The UAW-Book. About Urban Awareness", through the theme of curating, ed. by Socrates Stratis, including a contribution of AA & U
Socrates Stratis gives a lecture with Bernd Vlay on contemporary challenges of sustainable urban design, comparing dynamics of Nicosia with Vienna at Melina Mercouri Theatre, Nicosia The lecture was preceded by a mobile workshop on public transport with the rest of the seminar participants www.facebook.com/friends.of.nicosia/
Socrates Stratis has performed an e-Do It Yourself Presentation for the University of Idaho, USA. Socrates invited by David Franco, Assistant Professor of Architecture has introduced an alternative way of communicating the work of AA&U to the students of Architecture at the University of Idaho. Instead of giving a preset lecture through skype he proposed to the students to study the AA&U website and give to him a list of preferable projects only when the skype connection was on. Socrates had to improvise in order to create links across the projects.
Socrates Stratis is invited by the Institut of Urban and Regional Development (IURD) where he is currently a Visiting Scholar to present a joint research project with Imaginary Famagusta, ALA Partnership and University of Cyprus This talk is about practices of architecture and urban design that can have an active agent role in contested territories. They may participate in the construction of common ground across ethno-religious divides by contributing into the creation of common references and imaginaries, prerequisite for any reconciliation process.
The Pending Memorial Project is about a creative critique, an objection to the fact that the Ministry of Defense of Cyprus, whose Minister was one of the major actors convicted in court because of his responsibility for the catastrophic explosion on July 11th 2011, became the sponsor for a Memorial for the 13 people killed in that event. The project’s objection extended to the fact that the memorial should not only be about the 13 people killed but also about the destroyed landscape and electric power-station and for all Cypriot citizens who had realized that day that their State was incapable to protect them from such explosion. Plus, the Pending Memorial, creatively criticized the fact that the process of remembering should not only take place at the explosion area but it should take over public spaces in the cities plus it should penetrate the everyday practice of the Cyprus State. The design proposal manipulated the competition's terms of reference to allow such critic to take place. It demonstrated in fact the need for political engagement of any design proposal You can see more details on the project on the projects' archive
It is the publication about the "Urban-A-Where?" activities that took place during the fall of 2012, edited by Socrates Stratis, designed by Michalis Paparounis, Futura Publications, Athens and published by DAMDI.
Drawings and texts of Socrates Stratis about design thinking are published by DAMDI in Architect's Notebooks Edition
Socrates Stratis, invited by the Professor Lydia Matthews, presented the lecture about Spatial Practices' Ethical Dilemmas in Contested Spaces using the work of AA&U, to a graduate course on Social Practices on the 14th of October 2013.
The title of the presentation was: Designerly translocalities- between Urban Stories and Fairy Tales
Confronting Fragmentation in Contested Spaces: The case of Famagusta Cyprus
Socrates Stratis is reflecting on AA & U practice. He questions the role of architectural practices in contested spaces such as Cyprus and why should they advocate for reconciliating processes across the divide with the high risk of failing. Read more in "Learning From Failures: Architectures of Emergency in Contested Spaces;(Pyla,Cyprus)”, Footprint Journal, Delft, Vol 7, No 2 pp.143-151
"From Fragment to Eco-island: archipelago à la carte" is a research through design article that constructs knowledge out of the analysis of a winning competition project (3rd prize), designed by the authors for the National Park of Liopetri, Cyprus