Friday, May 01, 2009

Profile: The AOC





Architecture's answer to the Power Rangers, the Agents of Change is a practice of "architects, urbanists and cultural interpreters". True to the group's heroic name, its members lead double lives. Outside the office, Daisy Froud works to develop design training for local politicians, and Vincent Lacovara has infiltrated the planning department of Croydon council. Together with Geoff Shearcroft and Tom Coward, they also teach at London Metropolitan University.

"We can test our principles in other places and inform our practice in turn," explains Froud. The AOC's plural approach is founded in a deeply held belief that design should come out of the complexities and idiosyncrasies of the user, and so every project begins with an intense process of consultations and brief-building.

Very much in the FAT mould, the AOC uses play at every level, and has developed a series of games, "from programmatic Duplo for seven-year-olds, to a card game for planners, politicians and developers," says Froud, the positive aspect of competition resulting in several responsive school buildings and a number of thoughtful urban proposals.

Developed with 12 community groups across east London, their recent Lift theatre was an exemplar of engaging adaptable space, serving as performance venue, village hall and pleasure dome in one.

Originally published in Icon, May 2009