Since Vitruvius, it has been discussed how the program of architecture and design education should be. It seems that it will continue to be discussed as different approaches are adopted by diverse architecture schools. However, it is a fact that some of these schools stand out in terms of the awards their students receive, the events they organize or the facilities they offer. Let’s take a look at the trendsetter universities around the world that offer unique perspectives in architectural education.
1. Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)
Los Angeles , USA
SCI-Arc offers undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs that push the limits by trying untested forms within the scope of unimagined future possibilities in architectural education. Their goal is to teach architects to engage, speculate, and innovate; to take the lead in reimagining the limits of architecture.
Their Making+Meaning Summer Program workshop introduces participants to a fully digital design workflow that seamlessly integrates architectural design, digital representation, and digital fabrication techniques. To produce SCI-Arc’s signature one-of-a-kind innovative projects the school provides students with a personal studio space as well as
access to the school’s state-of-the-art Digital Fabrication Lab, one of the largest and most advanced fabrication facilities at an architecture school.
SCI-Arc is exhibiting these experimental projects by contemporary architects in every semester they even streamed their 2020 Summer Show on Twitch. To get further information about this amazingly creative school you can check out their website. If you want to see more of the student projects and know what is next in architecture make sure to follow their instagram account and facebook page.
Bartlett School of Architecture is one of the most influential, exciting and innovative architecture schools in the world and they aspire to set the agenda for what architecture is and could be. School’s goal has been listed as to “provoke liberal and imaginative ideas described through speculative projects in design and text”.
Students of Bartlett have received more RIBA medals than any other school in the past 20 years. The amazing architectural representations produced by students are so impressive that they are being posted and reposted in every architecture account on instagram. It would not be an exaggeration to say each project is a work of art.
Bartlett hosts the most influential events of architecture in UK yet the most exciting one is the Bartlett Summer Show where the students showcase their projects in a custom setting. You can look at the online Summer Show Archives through this link. If you would like to see more of extraordinary architectural representations you can follow their instagram account.
NUS Architecture ranks 6th in the world by 2021 QS World University Rankings by subject and 1st in Asia not without a reason. They offer 2 undergraduate and 7 graduate programmes under the roof of Department of Architecture (DOA) that focus on; arts in architecture, landscape architecture, conservation, urban design and sustainable design.
All of the undergraduate and graduate programmes are diverse in their areas of emphasis, methods of teaching and curricula, which gives students the opportunity to specialize in a subject of their choice. Department have been organizing many design education exhibitions and competitions, symposiums, conferences, workshops that nurture the education they offer, while improving the quality of student projects.
The holistic approach that the faculty adopted allowed students to produce extraordinary graduation and thesis projects that have been accoladed with awards at key international design competitions.
On top of all that, NUS DOA has an amazingly informative and user-friendly website that you can check out the student works and program brochures from this link. And you can follow their quirky instagram account from this link.
4. Tecniche Universitat Berlin (TU Berlin) | M-ARCH-T Program | Berlin, Germany
The English study program of Master of Architecture in TU Berlin focuses on the mediation and application of typological design approaches and methods in the context of concrete design tasks.
The theme of the design project is re-determined each semester with the city of Berlin serving as a laboratory for typological developments. This unique typology centered program results in examples of speculative narratives for the development of experimental architectures for future work.
Student projects turn into in-depth investigations of specific contexts.
5. Pratt Institute | School of Architecture (Pratt SoA)
New York , USA
Pratt SoA has a unique context for professional education in an art and design institute that stresses the relationship between intellectual development and creative activity. The school offers a broad cultural and analytical base in the liberal arts and sciences, while providing the specialized knowledge unique to individual disciplines in the professional fields of architecture, urban design, city and regional planning, construction and facilities management, environmental management, urban placemaking, historic preservation, and real estate.
On top of that, events including the Pratt Sessions, Pratt Parallels and Pratt IN_Sides series, integrated with the broader array of SoA events, all of which intersect with the curricula and build a framework for various modes of expanded learning. Especially the Pratt Shows are always iconic, it is the public exhibitions and presentations by Pratt Institute’s graduating classes.
Representing years of research, exploration, critical thinking, creative inquiry, problem-solving, growth, production, practice, and accomplishment, the shows celebrate outstanding student works.
You can take a look at the 2021 Pratt Show through this link. Also another great page to scroll through student works is Pratt Graduate Architecture and Urban Design website, and to see more of these cutting-edge architecture representations you can check out their instagram page it is one of the most followed architecture school accounts!
6. Technische Universiteit Delft (TU Delft) | Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
TU Delft Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment offers undergraduate and graduate programs that focus on building technology and urbanism holistically. Especially post-master program of The Berlage Post-master in Architecture and Urban Design is one of the most well-developed programs that focuses on how architects and urban designers practice in a globalized world, concentrating on the complex development of the built environment within different contexts.
In TU Delft architecture program is conducted in an in-depth collaborative and experimental setting, characterized by guidance and exchange with leading and emerging practitioners and scholars. Students participate in research– and design-based projects, theory seminars, fieldwork, and master classes. Their unique take on interdisciplinarity in architectural education together with the amazing faculty building and the exhibition area support their trendsetter title.
Modern facilities, along with unique-multi layered perspective on architecture allow the architecture students of TU Delft to return with awards from the competitions they entered year after year.
7. University of Sydney | Architecture, Design, Planning
Architecture, Design and Planning department of the University of Sydney is definitely work their way up to the best architectural schools in recent years. Their exquisite faculty staff, leading architectural practitioners with diverse professional backgrounds contribute to, and further shape, one of Australia’s most exciting architecture programs.
Another significant innovation of the school is the 5-year education program that combines the three-year Bachelor of Design in Architecture and the two-year Master of Architecture. Award-winning Sydney architect and alumnus of the University of Sydney Andrew Burns points out that “the five-year double degree in architecture will enable students to not only recognize these patterns, but to construct their own new and diverse skill sets tailored to effective action and capable of ongoing evolution.”
8. MIT Department of Architecture
Massachusetts , USA
Due to the distinguished teaching staff and outstanding students MIT is listed as one of the most prestigious architecture schools around world. Its top rankings in many different education evaluation criteria support the school’s success.
Especially the Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology (SMACT) feeds the innovative and interdisciplinary approach of the department by focusing on individual and collaborative forms and media including cinema, video, sound, performance, photography, experimental media and new genres, conceptual, sculptural, and spatial experiments, writings and publications. This multilayered perspective is allowing students to think holistically while providing them with the necessary tools to produce exceptional projects.
9. ETH Zurich | Department of Architecture
ETH Zurich is all about innovation and new possibilities in building technologies. It definitely is a leading university when it comes to digital fabrication projects and collaborations with major architecture firms.
One of the trendsetter programs in Department of architecture is Master of Advanced Studies in Digital Fabrication and Architecture (MAS ETH DFAB). The program’s goal is to prepare students for a digital building culture, where the architect develops integrative concepts for design and construction, which are technologically advanced, sustainable and responsive to societal progress.
A prominent digital fabrication project that Students at ETH Zurich’s MAS ETH DFAB explored the unique possibilities is Concrete Choreography. The installation becomes the first robotically 3D printed concrete stage, consisting of uniquely shaped columns fabricated without formwork, and printed to their full height within 2.5 hours.
If you are interested in digital fabrication and innovative building materials you should check out their instagram account from this link!
10. The University of Tokyo | Department of Architecture | Tokyo, Japan
Last but not least on the list is University of Tokyo. If you’ve seen an architecture student pavilion design article in an architectural platform, it most likely were done by the University of Tokyo Digital Fabrication Lab (DFL).
The main objectives of pavilion designing and building are to be a part of the experimental design/fabrication/assembly/construction processes which cannot be done solely by either a school or a professional practice and to explore possibilities by creating new set of “problems” which could act as a trigger mechanism for innovative architectural design research.
Another great example of innovative approach the department has adopted is the group of students from Global 30 Architecture and Urbanism program which is overseen by the legendary architect Kengo Kuma, developed a 3D-printing pen that can be used to create complex architectural structures out of plastic sticks. The result effect was spectacular.
The most active (and innovative) branch of department of architecture is The Advanced Design Studies, if you are interested in computation and fabrication you can visit their website and instagram page!
And our list of 10 trendsetter universities around the world is completed! Did you find this article helpful? Which architecture program is the most influential in your opinion? Please let me know in the comments!