Programme and Curriculum

International Master of Architecture Programme

The International Master of Architecture is offered by the recently inaugurated Faculty of Architecture, the most recent embodiment of a century-old tradition of excellence in architectural education at the Sint-Lucas School of Architecture. The programme’s uniqueness stems from the integration and interaction of design studios and technical, theoretical and explorative courses and research.
Architecture is characterised by a transdisciplinary and holistic scope. It is influenced by critical knowledge and coherent methodologies drawn from the humanities and technological sciences. In our faculty, the design process –and particularly its social and cultural role– is the core of our education. It also defines the trajectory of our graduates’ later practice or research career.
The teaching staff at the Sint-Lucas campuses includes many leading international architects and researchers, all of whom bring extensive experience in the field of Architecture and Urban Design to the classroom and design studio.

The Faculty of Architecture offers a two-year programme leading to the academic degree of Master of Science in Architecture. This international-oriented programme comprises 120 ECTS spread over (a minimum of) four semesters. All courses are entirely taught in English.
The Master programme explores architecture from a research-by-design and design-by-research perspective. Students are educated and trained in a highly multicultural and international context. The programme combines an academic with an artistic and experimental approach. It is characterised by a fully integrated design methodology, providing students with solid skills in the contemporary discipline of architectural design and research. The International Master of Architecture is organised at both of the faculty’s campuses, though with a different orientation:
Brussels Campus (established in 1887): Architecture: Urban Projects, Urban Cultures
Ghent Campus (established in 1862): Architecture: Resilient and Sustainable Strategies

History and Theory aims to define architecture within a broader cultural, theoretical and historical context of mankind and its world. The course has an interdisciplinary approach towards the phenomena of architecture and urbanism.

Building Technology is crucial to achieving qualitative architecture. The aim is to create sustainable, coherent and intelligent architecture projects with the help of technology.

Management covers topics such as law, economy, management processes and ethics. Students follow the international evolution of the profession with the aid of case studies, seminars and input from professionals.

The Design Studios are the core of the programme and provide an interactive and open design environment that accommodates students from around the world. The Design Studios are set up as interdisciplinary and coherent modules. Design activities are reinforced through theoretical components enabling a dynamic, cohesive and sustainable approach. Throughout the Design Studio sessions, students work individually and in small, highly international teams. The studios are considered as academic design offices, joining practice and research expertises, contributing to contemporary architectural discourses.

International Workshops, Electives, Seminars, Excursions, Exhibitions and Lecture Series are considered a structural part of the programme and address curriculum-relevant themes.
In the final semester, Master students complete their study programme with a design project and reflection paper developed in close collaboration with one of the department’s research laboratories or academic design offices. The knowledge, competences and methodologies acquired in the previous semesters enable Master students to formulate an individual research topic embedded within the laboratories’ fields of research and expertise. The end result is a highly qualitative (urban) architectural project.
The Master’s Dissertation Project counts for 30 ECTS. All final projects are evaluated by the teaching staff and an external international jury.
The minimum duration of the programme is two years (four academic semesters) but the curriculum can be spread out over a longer period contingent upon obtained results or in case the student desires to combine the programme with some kind of practice.
After graduation, exceptional students have the opportunity to continue research at the faculty and start a PhD programme related to one of the research department’s fields of study.
In addition, the faculty coordinates many international projects and maintains a wide network of contacts in both the professional and academic architectural world for graduated students.

Vision: Programme International Master of Architecture

Bildung und Beruf

The structure of the international programme curriculum is based on the following principles.
The student is intensively trained to work within a highly international context (fellow students, teaching staff, professionals) and deal with intercultural and social differences and their relation to the architecture design or research practice (eg projects on remote sites, international collaborations). The competences to be obtained within this Master Programme are focusing on the spatial, cultural and social differences (eg different climatological and site conditions for building techniques and spatial organisation).
The student defines and unfolds his/her own trajectory and academic design expertise within one of the two main curriculum frameworks offered in the Master of Architecture Programme, through a curriculum that includes a series of possible thematic design studios (or Academic Design Offices), workshops and electives, where specific research and design methods are developed. The design studios are organised as pools of research or practice expertise, where the student can develop this trajectory coherently, with guidance of academic promotors (practice and research are considered simultaneous and linked development processes). Self navigation and critical attitude are the main aims of the International Master Programme.
A profound specialisation is developed by the student within one of the main curriculum frameworks, further developed through a series of themes that allow the design studios to provide specific methods, knowledge and insights on research and design in architecture. A series of core courses (theory) allows the student a broad but critical perspective on the main themes.
The student is stimulated to take a critical position within the international architectural discourse, especially towards the multiple ways of running a design or research practice of architecture.

Curriculum framework campus Ghent: Architecture:  Resilient and Sustainable Strategies

At our campus in Ghent, the International Master of Science in Architecture is concerned with the current theory and practice of architecture and sustainability.
The Brundtland report (United Nations, 1987) defines sustainable development as ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The United Nations in 2005 referred to the ‘interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars’ of sustainable development as economic development, social development and environmental protection.
Translating these three pillars for sustainable architecture, they would entail: providing access to high quality and healthy living and working environments for all, finding ways to create socially sustainable environments at different scales and a wise use of natural resources. Technical considerations, together with more conceptual or strategic issues, are dealt with in this two-year program about architecture and sustainability.
Central in the program of the International Master of Science in Architecture is a critical reflection about architecture and its social, cultural or environmental role for society.
Based on a highly interdisciplinary learning process of integrated research and ‘research by design’, students are expected to determine a theoretical stance on current issues with particular emphasis on how aspects of sustainability, universal design, urban ecology and energy-efficient technologies may contribute to the development of more sustainable human settlements.
Apart from the theoretical courses, the program includes 3 design studios (during one semester) and 1 final master dissertation studio (during one year). Each semester, there is a focus on a specific attitude, related to the main theme of the programme. All studios are organised through a pool of studio groups (Academic Design Offices and Design Studios) where the teaching staff provides a series of specific themes, methods and intervention areas for the students to develop an architectural project:

Themes sem 1
social sustainability and architecture
modest heritage and suitability
urban emergent processes
architectural concept, materiality and detail
Themes sem 2 (specific focus on the city of Ghent)
architectural concept, materiality and detail
limited resources, re-use and integration
urban emergent processes
Themes sem 3
architectural materiality and detail
Themes sem 4
social sustainability and architecture
modest heritage and suitability
urban emergent processes
architectural concept, materiality and detail
limited resources, re-use and integration

 

Curriculum framework campus Brussels: Architecture: Urban Projects, Urban Cultures

In the field of Architecture and Urban Design, a global awareness is growing, questioning established development and settlement patterns regarding future societal needs and ensuing planning strategies and architectural interventions.
The current fast-forward global development increasingly strains the Western and European model, inducing a whole range of urban planning and architectural challenges to update the academic and professional practice.
Facing the consequences of a changing society and a post-industrial and knowledge-based economy, Western developments stand in stark contrast with rapidly developing economies and a still expanding population worldwide. Instigating important and unchartered societal shifts, our conception of urbanity and the city is fundamentally affected.
Traditional urban planning methods and architectural strategies might not offer the necessary tools to recognize and address these future challenges and therefore need to be reconsidered.
Within these changing context and transition processes, the Urban Projects, Urban Cultures Programme seeks to research, develop and teach alternative architectural and urban design tools, not so much aimed at reinventing urban landscapes, but as it were to edit the given condition from within.
A critical and coherent attitude towards recent urban phenomena is considered the base for research and design at different levels.

Apart from the theoretical courses, the program includes 3 design studios (during one semester) and 1 final master dissertation studio (during one year, planned infosession about the different sites, focus and method in September). Each semester, there is a focus on a specific attitude, related to the main theme of the programme. All studios are organised through a pool of studio groups (Academic Design Offices and Design Studios) where the teaching staff provides a series of specific themes, methods and intervention areas for the students to develop an architectural project:

Themes sem 1
multiple readings of the urban landscape
Themes sem 2 (specific focus on the city of Brussels)
learning from Brussels
Themes sem 3
urban projects at the intermediate scale
Themes sem 4
urban projects at the intermediate scale
multiple readings of the urban landscape
learning from Brussels

cur BXL

cur GNT

 

 

(students that successfully obtained credits of a course that is now moved from 1st or 2nd semester to the 3rd semester in the curriculum, will be allowed to substitute this course by an elective)

 

IMPORTANT:

The outgoing exchange students that will be abroad in the semester before the Master Dissertation Design Studio, will register for the first 5 ECTS credits of the Master Dissertation Design studio (OPO42) of the Master of Architecture programme: totally, this OPO counts for 30 ECTS credits: 5 (sem 3) + 25 (sem 4). During their semester abroad, they will choose a site/theme in the city where they will study to develop the master dissertation project in that particular context. Before leaving, they will agree with one of the possible academic promotors of the Master Dissertation Studio (see list of academic promotors below, please contact them via mail before leaving) to link this site and theme to one of the research and design frameworks offered by the academic promotors to develop the Master Dissertation Project. While abroad, with guidance of the academic promotor (via mail and skype), the outgoing exchange student will conduct initial site and thematic research and data mining, develop the research questions,  study reference projects and make a liturature study. On return, in a similar way to all other students, they will make a first formal presentation of the first research and design outcomes (planned for the first week of the Master Dissertation design studio semester 4).

Academic Promotors campus Brussels: Burak Pak, Raf De Saegher and Kris Scheerlinck.

Academic Promotors campus Ghent: Gisèle Gantois, Tomas Ooms, Luc Eeckhout, Martine De Maeseneer, Marc Dujardin and Kris Scheerlinck.

 

 

All course information can be consulted at: www.arch.kuleuven.be

The Faculty of Architecture takes the international dimension as the basis for its own quality assessment. It positions itself squarely within the international field of qualitative academic education. The faculty’s international activities are extensive and diversified: student mobility and staff exchange on a European and intercontinental level, internationally oriented programmes for incoming students, international workshops and competitions, international research projects, international internships, development cooperation, etc.

The Faculty of Architecture works hard to consolidate and enrich its network of cooperative associations with professionals and universities in Europe, Australia, the United States, Latin America, Africa and Asia. It offers its students access to this international forum of spatial design activities. The faculty sees this as a catalyst for creativity and as an added value to the student’s future professional career. All of our students are stimulated and supported to participate in this process.