ARCSR MA in Architecture 2008-10
Chair of Design, Associate Professor & Architect
Zayed University, UAE
Marco Sosa is an Architect, Associate Professor and Chair of Design, teaching at the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi. He holds a BA (Hons) and a postgraduate diploma in Architecture, and a MA in Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources from the London Metropolitan University. In 2012, Sosa published a photography book about the oldest functional mosque in the UAE. Sosa has also designed, participated and curated exhibitions, nationally and internationally. In 2014, Marco was appointed part of the curatorial team as Head of Design, for the First National Pavilion for the UAE at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale.
ARCSR Alumni Profile
What does your day to day role involve?
Administrative role as Chair of Design at the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises (CACE), Zayed University. I also have an academic and teaching role as an Associate professor teaching various studio courses part of the Interior Design programme at CACE
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The unexpected, the excitement of teaching the new designers of this country. Being an academic exploring new pedagogy and design methods. Writing papers for journals, attending international conferences. Discovering new possibilities for my students and highlighting the great work students at CACE are doing.
Did you have to undertake any additional qualifications to get into your chosen career, if yes please describe your route
Yes. I did my RIBA Part 1, 2 and 3 at London Metropolitan and its previous incarnation as the University of North London. I worked over 10 years in architectural practices in London and Norwich and always wanted to teach architecture or interior architecture at university level. The ARCSR masters was featured in an article in Building Design magazine (around 2006-07) and I have always felt my design vision gravitated towards humanitarian architecture and wanted to develop academic design research skills. At the time, I felt the ARCSR under Professor Maurice Mitchell would do that for me. I was pleased that it provided me with the right level of exposure to the subject, increase my design research methods and introduce me to the world of academia.
Do you think your ARCSR experience directly assisted you in obtaining your current role and career path?
I felt I was at the right time in my career when I completed the ARCSR MA course. I learned a great deal in my time there. This has a direct impact in the way I teach design, and also in my own research interests. The ARCSR philosophy under Professor Mitchell's direction planted a seed and a clear direction of the type of design I am interested, and I am looking to explore. I would not have got this teaching position in the UAE if I did not have this MA in ARCSR. I remember that even in my job interview for this position, my MA thesis provided a topic of conversation between architectural historian members of the interviewing panel.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
The directs 'hands on" experience. Learning by making. This is a process I carried through in my own curriculum development of my own courses. Application of Professor Mitchell's "loose fit" theory in construction which I have further integrated computational fabrication methods in my teaching methodologies. I liked the long academic study trip abroad, the workshop at CAT, Wales. Professor Mitchell's enthusiasm and mentorship. The camaraderie developed by students, especially if mixed with Architecture Diploma and BA students providing a vertical studio environment. This is a crucial element of design learning.
What are your professional ambitions?
To become a full professor
In your opinion, what are the essential skills for you career?
Ability to adapt. Rapidly and effectively. Ability to make connections and find opportunities for my students to expose them to the industry and the world of academia.
If you are undertaking research, what sort of research is it?
I am still interested in the ARCSR philosophy and to develop it to integrate technologies and new fabrication methods from the 21st century. I believe there is room for exploration. I also work with Adaptive Reuse and revitalization of abandoned structures in the UAE through an embodiment of a modular fabricated (parametric) system responding to social, cultural and climatic parameters. In
addition, I am interested in developing partnerships and exploring new methods of teaching in the studio.
What is your best memory of ARCSR?
Going to Agra and working in the field for those two and half weeks. discovering a research method that could only be learned in the field and not in academic books. Going to CAT in wales for the construction workshops. The hands-on part of the course was what made it different.
What advice can you offer to new ARCSR students?
Make as much as you can! don't just draw beautifully, this is great, but you need to make, and sometimes you need to make and design as you make. No time for sitting in front of the computer. You need to learn the materials and construction possibilities within your site/region and experiment. Learn by doing, not just reading.
And finally, tell us a bit about what you are currently working on at the moment.
I am the chair of Design at CACE, in charge of the Interior design and Graphic design department. We are currently in the process of developing the BArch Architecture program based around Desert architecture.