The United States has an architecture school in almost every major university in each of its 50 states. And while it’s true that the choices seem endless, it is also true that there are certain values and approaches that dominate. Ecological architecture, for example, is often not passive, but is technology-laden, which means a large production footprint for materials like PV panels, special types of glass, or other cladding solutions. This is just one example of how industry and pedagogy shape one another and in turn influence the perception of “legitimate” architecture. Teaching architectural history offers another example in which what comprises “relevant” history is all-too-often limited to Euro-American examples. Everything in Asia beyond twenty years ago, whether it is Southeast, South, or East, is usually ignored because - although the names of historical architects may well be known in their own countries, they are not easily translatable for the average English-language author of architecture survey books.
The truth is that even in architecture schools in European nations, approaches and emphases on pedagogical content and styles vary widely. For example, schools in northern Europe have very different views on what is important and how to teach it than schools in western Europe. One school with a very defined point of view is the Brussels Faculty of Engineering, or Bruface, created by Vrije Universiteit Brussel in cooperation with the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. There, students can receive a Master of Science in Architectural Engineering; they are trained not just in design, but in engineering, emphasizing a more structural, practical approach.
Ecological design is rapidly becoming a staple in architecture school. Its various names—sustainable, “green,” and environmental—all refer to the objective of designing buildings that have a smaller carbon footprint, from construction materials to functionality post-occupancy. Acronyms like HVAC and PV are now part of the mainstream architecture lexicon. These approaches are not globally applicable, however. For example, in tropical climates, the use of such technology is both impractical and ineffective. Additionally, the carbon footprint resulting from producing these devices and systems can be significant.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Architectureis addressing these very issues. Founded in 1958, the Department of Architecture is oriented towards architecture for Asia and the tropics. Kenneth Ho, Design Director and Co-Founder of Hopscape Design + Architecture and NUS alumnus, says, “Everything here [in the U.S.] is about sustainability like HVAC or solar panels. But there, sustainable architecture is passive. For example, when you build a house, it actually breathes because you build it off the ground, the air circulates through the floor and then out through the roof. Because it’s a tropical climate, you have to do this. NUS is one of the leading schools in teaching this in Southeast Asia. Its become a hub for neighboring countries who send their students to study there to learn about this.”
MATAERIAL (shown in the video above) is "the result of the collaborative research between Petr Novikov, Saša Jokić from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and Joris Laarman Studio. IAAC tutors representing the Open Thesis Fabrication Program provided their advice and professional expertise."
Most architecture programs focus on traditional degrees, ranging from practice-based Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees to the more theoretical Doctorate. But, until recently, there has been a void in postgraduate training that actually teaches fresh graduates and experienced professionals new technological skills. The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (or IAAC) has taken an important step towards filling this gap with two programs: the Open Thesis Fabrication (OTF) program and the Fab Academy.
Most architecture schools around the world offer their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in separate tracks. That means that if students want to attain a Master’s degree, they first need to acquire a B.A. or B.S.,which usually takes five years. Altogether, this can be an expensive, eight-year endeavor that can subject students to crippling debt. One US report found that both undergraduate and graduate students can easily accumulate $100,000 in student loan debt, and another finds that “undergraduate students majoring in theology, architecture and history are much more likely to graduate with excessive debt,” compared to those pursuing math and the sciences.
Given these harsh realities, a school that combines both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in a single, five-year program is a welcome option. Enter the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts‘ School of Architecture.
With its current total population over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous nation in the world. What’s more, current demographics show that, rather than being concentrated, India’s population is spread throughout its states. In demographic and statistical terms, then, India is ideally situated to provide architecture students with new insights into Ekistics, or the science of human settlements.
Founded in 2001 in response to the ongoing shifts in the urban landscape, the Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics at Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University, grounds students in the ways that nature interacts with human needs/ethics in order to produce professionals instrumental in advancing a better built environment.
Recent reports by the UN on projected population growth until the year 2300, as well as current population trends, have raised numerous issues, from access to healthcare to housing. Of particular importance is how these issues will affect the urban landscape, and how professionals can respond to these changing conditions, on both a local and global scale. Urban planners and designers must not only be concerned about issues such as congestion and mobility, urban renewal and densification, but must also “[take] into account…economic globalization, the consequences of the financial crisis, [and] climate change” as well.
According to the UN, the elderly population not only exceeds the population of children in developed nations, but will increase more rapidly than any other demographic over the next 50 years -- in fact, it could even triple.
Although most countries deal with the elderly population through institutionalized care, whether public, as in Canada or in Great Britain, or private, as in the U.S., the quality of care is widely divergent. It’s therefore fitting - and necessary - that the physical environment’s effect on elderly care is becoming a more prominent issue for research.
At Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture, prospective students are likely to find a course of study that will interest them. The School’s newly revised undergraduate curriculum allows students to choose studios in their 4th and 5th year that concentrate on breadth or depth in the following topics of interest: Sustainable Design, Digital Design, Management and Critical Practice, Design/ Build, Urban Design, and Future Studios. For example, students interested in digital fabrication, computational design, and new materials may choose to concentrate in Digital Design.
Finland is consistently ranked by several different organizations, amongst them the UN, as the top in student’s education, well-being and even overall human development rankings. These factors make pursuing higher education in Finland equally appealing. Why? Because in a country that is highly ranked for human development indices like life expectancy, and GDP per capita, and world happiness, the standard of living is most likely to be good for students as well. This is an important consideration for architecture students who often experience enormous stress within the studio culture which dominates most curriculums.
At Tampere University of Technology, not only can students benefit from a high standard of living, but they can also pursue a degree, conducted entirely in English, at all three degree levels: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral. Within those degree levels, the major areas span the range of practice-oriented architecture curriculums to those focused on theory and research. Focuses include Architecture, Architectural Construction, Architectural Design, Architectural and Urban Research, History of Architecture, Housing Design, Urban Planning and Design and Theory of Urban Planning and Design.
Architecture school should provide an environment to explore issues alongside practical skills and professional training. Ideally, there will also be opportunities to work with faculty and students in fields that complement architecture. Add a campus situated at an international city and you have The University of Hong Kong.
The Berlage challenges students to understand the issues and principles surrounding the economy, the environment, and society as the route towards good architecture. History and cultural issues are therefore central to this Master’s of Science degree, as they should be. Because in today’s economy, the formula for success demands more than just an agility with computer programs. Students need to be able to exercise critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, many school studios fetishize style over substance but when their students graduate, they are ill-trained.
Social justice. How can that be achieved? At Portland State University School of Architecture, faculty and students are exploring just this issue in different forms. Often when people think of Portland or the state of Oregon, images of “crunchy” eco-“warriors” come to mind, but these issues are not simply proxies for a lifestyle or consumer choices. Rather, when discussing people and ecology, the issues are about resources. Specifically, how do humans use and allocate resources to promote fair, well-distributed advancements rather than exploitation, oppression and conspicuous consumption.
The ongoing struggles in the world’s economies has produced several innovations in the field of Architecture. One important change has been for professionals and students to seek more interdisciplinary skills that better prepare them for these inevitable economic shifts. Schools have responded in kind, defining those skills in either intellectual, analytical terms (i.e. teaching students how to better critically analyze situations while eschewing superficial “theoretical” approaches) while other schools have emphasized a more practical approach.
InSB exemplifies the latter: a program that combines all aspects of AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) into a single curriculum for both undergraduates and graduates. Founded by Tabitha Ponte and co-founder Arturo Vasquez, the school has an ambitious mission: to offer a truly integrated AEC education that is tuition-free.
What are Live Projects? A UK term, it refers to collaborations between architecture schools and real clients on real projects. In the US, for example, these are merely referred to as industry collaborations. Clients are widely variant, from municipal governments and youth organizations, as well as galleries and community-based gardens.
There are many iterations of this teaching model in the UK so the issue is, how to determine a good fit for prospective students? One issue that is increasingly at the fore of students’ minds is how to balance idealism with practical skills. At Birmingham City University’sBIAD (Birmingham Institute of Art and Design), the program is structured precisely to help students achieve that balance.
There’s a new program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Situated in the south campus designed by Kevin Daly of Daly/Genik , the Media Design Practices program is a newly minted program that is an exciting new approach to design.
Why you may ask has the ArchDaily College Guide decided to examine a media program when its focus is architecture schools around the world? Simple. Because this is an innovative program that will impart new skills, enhance the ones you have, and help you find a job to boot. All of this can happen regardless of your undergraduate degree.
Intervention in Human Rights has, until now, had very few models in the architecture profession. There are the non-profit organizations and NGO’s. They often focus on structures and spaces that have been decimated by natural disasters or military conflict. Then there is the Forensic Architecture approach which seeks to document exactly what people have undergone in those circumstances. Most architecture activists, however, fall into the first category, focusing on building or re-building.
While these models are very useful, they contain some inherent problems. One is that many of these organizations have predetermined agendas that dictate their intervention. Part of this is driven by the funding cycle: donors are not always inspired by the thought of funding a pig farm, but the idea of a new school designed by a famous architect makes an attractive selling point for new and continuing donors. Too often, however, that results in projects that are disconnected from the actual needs of local populations. Unneeded buildings are a waste of resources, time, money, and labor.
Continue reading the school profile after the break