In the second decade of the twenty-first century, the built environment continues to be redefined on an unprecedented scale by global shifts of culture, economy, and geopolitical structures. Cities and countrysides are transforming differently from country to country; national and local governments continue to define specific legal frameworks impacting building practice; and value systems and social norms remain strongly bound to culture. At the same time, different regions around the world deal with similar changes, from urban sprawl and rapid urbanization to the consequences of an aging population and the lifestyle challenges of the middle class.
In the last two decades the spread of professional skills and new technologies around the world expanded the market for international design services. The looming new role of global professionals raises crucial questions regarding the knowledge and expertise of architects and urban designers: How can we learn from different cultures of building all over the globe? How can designers perform within the clash of cosmopolitanism and localism? Which design strategies and research approaches mediate between international and local conditions? How can a globally oriented designer engage with local mores and trades? Do practitioners who operate internationally have an ethical duty to assist in transferring new skills to local architects? These considerations underscore how globalism is affecting every practitioner, even those who never leave their home nations.
Drawings, technologies, clients, and workforces flow easily between networked continents and cultures. Yet designers are often confronted with the intractability of local circumstances. How can architects and urban designers critically contribute to the construction of a borderless, cosmopolitan culture that transcends national borders and identities?
Since 1990, the Berlage has provided an exclusive and unique study program for young professionals seeking to meet the challenges of a globally oriented practice. The Berlage is now open for applications from passionate candidates. It offers a uniquely tailored, one-and-a-half-year-long Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design programme. Students engage individually and collectively with an excellent network of alumni, students, practitioners, and scholars.
As outlined in its current prospectus, the Berlage’s curriculum aims at “redefining and expanding the methods, instruments, and approaches of research and design on the built environment.” Pursuing a predetermined design-research-based interest, students will gain novel perspectives on the complexities of the contemporary built environment, while exploring new ways to operate and innovate from within them.
A limited number of international students work closely with a distinguished and diverse network of practitioners, thinkers, and experts. Complemented by a public program of distinctive lectures, exhibitions, and other events. Study culminates in an individually pursued final thesis project. This exclusive setting facilitates ideal conditions to test and communicate models, insights, and principles from global perspectives, thus stimulating architects and urban designers at the forefront of reality-based research and design for the twenty-first century world.