innovative universities

Challenged by the future frameworks of working environments and landscapes dictated by tech and AI, innovative universities around the world are expanding the boundaries of architecture with forward-thinking academics and work-integrated practice.

Aligning students with modern architectural methods and contemporary concepts, schools of architecture and design continue to explore how technology and urban design play a huge role in creating buildings that will shape our world for years to come.

Providing an eye-opening insight into the future of architecture, Study International spoke to Martha Thorne, an American architectural academic, curator, editor and author, Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and Dean of the IE University School of Architecture and Design.

“We are living in a time unlike any time in history due to the speed and magnitude of changes in technology, globalisation, urbanisation, global warming, migration etc. All these issues are directly related to the built, natural, and digital environments – exactly the space where architects, designers and urbanists work.

“Exclusively using old models, existing ‘conventional knowledge’ or approaching architecture as in the past will not be the only nor the most important way architects will practice in the future. The traditional idea of the lone architect as a designer at the top of the pyramid is being called into question,” she explains.

So, if you’re interested in expanding the boundaries of architecture and are searching for innovative universities that unite your architectural aspirations with thought-provoking practice, make sure you opt for a school that understands the urgency of technological transitions and changes in urbanisation.

“Our great strength is in the fact that no other profession approaches the future in quite the way that architecture does, analysing information from multiple sources and in multiple formats, and then proposing new ideas and new environments which must simultaneously meet many goals and respond to multiple parameters.

“Aspiring architects need to embrace change, new roles, and new knowledge in response to the present and the future,” adds Martha.

A profession that sets itself apart from other design specialisms, a future in architecture looks promising.

Here are four universities that are inspiring architects to embrace change and challenge borders…


IE School of Architecture and Design expands the boundaries of architecture and design to provide sustainable responses for a changing world. Located within in Madrid and Segovia, this innovative school is one to watch.

With almost one hundred nationalities studying on campus, this academic and creative hub features borderless learning spaces and a commitment to preparing graduates to change the world through design and entrepreneurial thinking.

By embarking on highly-interactive study programmes such as the Bachelor in Architectural Studies, the Bachelor in Design, the Master in Business for Architecture and Design, the Master in Real Estate Development and the Master in Strategic Design of Spaces, you’ll converse with renowned guest speakers, Pritzker Prize winners and an international faculty from top companies around the world.

As the Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design, Martha Thorne, explains, “We have a long-standing and proven internship programme that places students in top firms, companies, cultural institutions, and journals throughout the world…We also incorporate online learning in many courses…Finally, our FabLab is a place for experimentation with all types of technology and techniques and is consistent with our motto of “learning by doing”, which is a hands-on educational approach that promotes a holistic learning experience”

Student projects are not exclusive to any programme at IE School of Architecture and Design; whether taking part in a bachelor or master’s degree, everyone has the chance to participate in meaningful, career-boosting projects.

So if you’re ready to innovate with this future-facing school, request further information or start your application today!


At the RCA in London, the School of Architecture surpasses expectations, giving students the chance to work alongside designers and fine artists in a concentrated, postgraduate-only environment.

According to the Dean, Dr Adrian Lahoud, “The School of Architecture is a rich and expansive setting for the pursuit of design experimentation and research, producing generations of graduates that lead practice in their chosen fields.”

One of the UK’s most innovative universities, RCA allows students to push their material, conceptual and technical skills beyond traditional disciplinary themes, thereby expanding the boundaries of architecture and overthrowing restricted concepts.

The RCA offers Graduate Diploma, MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees across many art and design disciplines.

From the MA Architecture degree, where you can expand the possibilities of your practice by developing a speculative, independent and critical ethos; to the MA City Design degree, where you can harness new social, technical and spatial innovations to generate alternative forms of urban life; there’s something for every aspiring architect to choose at this school.

And if RCA resonates with your academic goals, you can explore their mission further here.


Despite its small size, Städelschule maintains a truly international profile.

A world-renowned art academy founded in 1817, Städelschule has a close-knit student body, 60 percent of whom are international learners.

Situated in one half of an early 20th century townhouse next to the main building of the Städelschule, the academy provides members with a near domestic setting for the social and academic lives, while additional studios are within a short walking distance from the Städelschule campus.

The bespoke Master of Arts in Architecture prepares students for a professional career, letting them engage with advanced topics in architectural design through three thematic specialisations offered in the second year of study; Advanced Architectural Design (AAD), Architecture and Aesthetic Practice (AAP) and Architecture and Urban Design (AUD).

Each year, in the summer semester, the academy hosts a lecture series that is internationally recognised and features architectural theorists and practitioners, as well as guests from other fields to expound on architectural and related topics.

So, if Städelschule sounds like it’s for you, find out more via the application page!


Motivating the next generation of architects from its study premises in Milan, the Domus Academy allows you to learn by designing.

Expanding the boundaries of architecture with hands-on workshops, top studios and professional connections, it’s an academy that connects you to your destiny in design.

With the Master in Product Design, you’ll get to explore new territories in product design, technology, fabrication and construction in Milan.

Or, through the Master in Urban Vision & Architectural Design, you’ll consider factors like the environment, social equity and economic viability when designing concepts for private and public spaces.

Pairing students with programmes that provide clarity and a newfound appreciation for architecture, Domus directs you towards future-focused design methods and projects that make a real-world difference.

For instance, Illusion, a project in collaboration with Condé Nast Italia and Wired Italia, saw students work on the structure and organisation of an event, deciding how to promote it to attract and engage customers and expand their experience.

If you’re creative and ready to elevate your artistic potential, check out the Scholarship Competition for the school’s February 2020 intake or contact them today about courses that would best suit your academic ambitions.

*Some of the institutions featured on this article are commercial partners of Study International

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