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The world’s most influential providers of Architectural Studies

“Everything that is completed ceases to be the dwelling of our spirit”Max Frisch

The study of architecture is unlike traditional university courses, enabling students to explore ideas in a hands-on, interactive manner. Creativity and ingenuity is the framework for architectural study, with students taught to think and explore concepts in a new and intuitive way.

Architecture graduates are given the chance to change the world in many ways. They invent, create and inspire people across the globe, and have done so for thousands of years.  They believe the unbelievable, serving to shock and embolden the world. It can be the most challenging, yet enjoyable experience for many people.

Below are four global universities that are pushing the boundaries for architectural study, creating the next generation of architects who help shape the world.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTURE – USA

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) was founded in 1972 by a group of faculty and students from the Department of Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. These creatives were keen to approach the subject of architecture via a more innovative, speculative, and experimental perspective than traditional schools offered. Currently operating as one of the nation’s few independent architecture schools, SCI-Arc is the perfect destination for budding architects who will imagine and structure our future.

Photo courtesy of Southern California Institute of Architecture

The school is found in a quarter-mile long former freight depot in the Arts District of Los Angeles, which serves as a unique hub for inspiring and supporting the next generation of architects. The city of Los Angeles itself has a distinct history of architectural experimentation, and SCI-Arc uses this to generate enthusiasm and belief among students that they can design new responses to the changing needs and aspirations of the modern world.

Students are taught directly by professional (or practicing) architects in a dynamic learning environment and are encouraged to re-think assumptions, create, explore and test the limits of architecture.

There are a range of study opportunities at SCI-Arc across undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate programs. The undergraduate program focuses on both the discipline and the practice of architecture, offering design excellence and intellectual breadth through a liberal arts-based curriculum. The graduate programs at SCI-Arc promote a spirit of thought and inquiry, responding to shifts in society, technology and culture – and how the field of architecture can inspire a new wave of thought in the world.

Studying abroad through exchange initiatives is a popular feature of student life at SCI-Arc. Pupils can experience the architecture and culture of countries around the world, with recent partnerships seeing SCI-Arc students travel to Mexico, China, Japan and Colombia to complete parts of their studies.

MANCHESTER SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE – UK

The Manchester School of Architecture (MSA) is a collaboration between the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, combining two schools of architecture with more than 100-years of educational experience to create one of the largest specialised schools of architecture in the UK.

Students have direct access to the facilities and resources of both universities, including libraries, computer suites, making and media workshops, as well as access to the specialist staff from both universities, who are dedicated to the success and development of their students’ studies.

MSA consistently ranks as one of the top architecture schools across the UK, offering students a range of professionally-recognised undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Variety, vitality and quality forms the basis of study at MSA, reflected in shining appraisals from professional institutions, the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA), whilst also collecting a variety of external academic awards.

The curriculum at MSA encompasses areas as diverse as urban design, urban development, ecological and landscape design, and the conservation and management of historic environments. The recently established Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC) houses a variety of interdisciplinary research interests, presenting students with opportunities to collaborate with other departments at both universities.

As a city, Manchester is steeped in architectural history with an abundance of arts venues, galleries, museums and theatres, including the Cornerhouse, The Royal Exchange and the Palace Theatre.

DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE, ETH ZURICH – SWITZERLAND

“The Department of Architecture D-ARCH at ETH Zurich offers a holistic architectural education that understands design and construction as a reflection of constant transformation,” says Hubert Klumpner, Dean of the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich. “Thanks to an outstanding environment, we are able not only to provide solutions to the challenges of our age, but to implement these in the physical world.”

Photo courtesy of ETH Zurich

Professors and students at ETH test the processes, materials, constructions, historical and theoretical deliberations of architecture, preparing to constantly redefine the framework in which architecture is created.

The wide-reaching expertise at ETH Zurich means students gain a genuine interdisciplinary research experience. Methods across social sciences, the humanities, engineering, and the material and spatial science are utilised by the engineering department, providing students with a holistic understanding of the subject.

There is a tiered study model at ETH, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as doctorate and continuing education programmes. The bachelor’s degree in architecture lasts three years, while the master’s course is two years and should be supplemented with an additional six-month internship period.

The outstanding teaching and research infrastructure at D-ARCH is among the best in the world, including the gta Archives, the Werner Oechslin Library, and the Material Collection as well the state-of-the-art laboratories, workshops and studios in which architecture is experienced.

DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE – SINGAPORE

The program at the Department of Architecture at the National University of Singapore (NUS) boasts a world-renowned curriculum, and stands as the only one in the country to be accredited by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Board of Architects (BOA) Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA).

Students are empowered to choose from a variety of creative paths that perfectly suit their unique design talents and research interests: architecture, landscape, urban design, urban planning and architectural studies. Through a new initiative labelled “Architecture Plus”, students are able to combine options of study to help them fulfil their maximum potential.

The mission at NUS is to deliver a broad-based education for the global citizen and designer. Training and research at is comprehensive, with students being taught to think critically and develop unique theories and ideas.

Social and service enterprises are promoted at NUS, with students’ design experiences aided by hands-on opportunities with other students and faculty. Students also have access to a wide range of digital prototyping, fabrication and representation technologies, driving efficiency among students.

The school’s teaching approach combines abstract theory with concrete practices to help the student mould their own individual ideas. NUS believes that its designers and thinkers seek inclusiveness in their projects, helping to promote ethical sustainability and environmental responsibility across the globe. 

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

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