A Room Within a Room Within a Room: AA 125 Travelling Exhibition or, the Period Room as Staging Device

Alexandra Brown, Lea-Catherine Szacka

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The following paper takes as its starting point a posed photograph of the members’ room space within the Architectural Association’s AA125 exhibition. The image is one of the only published traces of this travelling exhibition, a show first installed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, from April 5 to 29, 1973, to celebrate the AA’s 125th anniversary, which included a full-scale “reconstruction” of the institution’s members’ room at 36 Bedford Square. AA Chairman Alvin Boyarsky’s staging of the AA members’ room, we argue, functioned as an inhabitable exhibition environment that simultaneously reinforced the enduring identity of the AA—one of the most important architecture schools in Europe—as an independent institution, while also signaling its recent reinvention under Boyarksy’s direction. Recent research on the institutional history of the AA has drawn attention to Boyarksy’s role in revitalizing the school through a series of ambitious teaching and publication initiatives. The paper builds on these studies by repositioning this underexplored exhibition and, more specifically, the members’ room installation as an important part of Boyarsky’s political and pedagogical project for
the AA during the 1970s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-397
Number of pages18
JournalArchitectural Theory Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Architectural association
  • Alvin Boyarsky
  • architecture exhibitions
  • architectural education
  • period roomsa

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