In conversation with Eleanor Dodman (AA 5th Year) about the organisation behind the many events that comprised the school's birthday celebration
30 October 2013 Architectural Association, London   This year saw the first of what will become an annual tradition of celebrating the AA's Birthday on the anniversary of the date on which it was founded - 8 October. To mark the occasion, a whole host of events, activities, performances and speeches were planned in different rooms across the Georgian campus in Bedford Square. To learn more about what went into planning the festivities as well as the surprises and challenges encountered along the way, we met 5th year student and AA Council member, Eleanor Dodman, to discuss.   What led to the decision to celebrate the AA's Birthday this year?   This year the AA decided to celebrate its birthday. Although this has happened before, traditionally it has only taken place on one of the more notable birthdays such as the 150th. This new tradition we hope to start arose out of a Council meeting. The conversation began because of the AA planning to celebrate three very important birthdays in the upcoming years, the centenary of moving to Bedford Square, the anniversary of the AA Diploma programme and the milestone of women being able to study at the AA.   Was there a theme?   Brett (Steele, the AA Director) decided that the party should have a black and white theme. However, I would say that there were two other themes. For the beginning of the celebration, although not an official theme, we decided upon the idea that there should be games, much like a proper birthday party. The founding of the AA as two students rising against the educational practice of the time was the theme of the dance. The dance, We fight out battles with the drawings on the wall, was organised by Theo Lorenz and Tanja Siems alongside the AA Interprofessional Studio. It began on the terrace and moved down into the lecture hall. There, the performance became a multimedia installation with large-scale props, projections by Metamind Visuals and a soundtrack provided by DJ Andy Boilerhouse, which was accompanied by recitations by poet Murray Lachlan Young.   [caption id="attachment_2219" align="alignnone" width="360"] Mark Cousins blowing out the candles on the two Guinness and chocolate cakes
Image credit: Valerie Bennett[/caption]
What sort of events were planned for the event?   The party took shape as a collection of many events such as spot the detail, an obscure collection of details around the AA as photographed by Sue Barr; a piñata competition where students and staff competed to create the best architectural papier mâché structure and the Via Christina Annual Foot Race which saw participants running a circuit through the AA buildings. We also had a drawing wall, cake, champagne, speeches, dancing and poetry. Colin Prendergast from Facilities cooked two amazing Guinness and chocolate cakes for the actual birthday cake. Mark Cousins blew out the candles as 8 October also happens to be his birthday. We also had an amazing cake table, which was designed and fabricated by Tobias Klein and Valentin Bontjes van Beek. The party ended with a Dj set from DJ Andy Boilerhouse and singing from both David McAlmont and Sam Obernik.   What were some of the challenges/ surprises encountered while organising the party?   The things that surprised me the most were the amazing piñatas and the willingness of people to run the the foot race. I do not think you could pay me to run the foot race, so instead Christina Smith and I stood at the finish line questioning why there were so many people willing to participate in running a whole lap of the school.
[caption id="attachment_2218" align="alignnone" width="360"] The finish line at the Via Christina Annual Foot Race
Image credit: Valerie Bennett[/caption]
What did you think was the most fun and successful part of the event?    To single out any one event is something I think I am unable to do. The party was planned as a continual event and I hope that is the way people enjoyed it. In my opinion, what makes any party good is the unforeseen or something that you cannot plan, and that is the people. This event was aimed not only at the student community but for the whole membership to enjoy and it was very nice to see students and members celebrating together.   [caption id="attachment_2217" align="alignnone" width="360"] ‘WE FIGHT THE BATTLE WITH THE DRAWINGS ON THE WALL’
Image credit: Valerie Bennett[/caption]   For more information: AA Events List Term 1 Week 2 2013-14 AA Birthday Programme Main Image: The piñata competition on the terrace Image credit: Natasha Sandmeier