The Städelschule Architecture Class (SAC) and its programme is formulated around research issues in architecture and, specifically, architectural design for the purpose of preparing its students for the future of the architectural profession. The programme seeks to explore architecture and the transformative potential of design intelligence and know-how within a larger societal context. Since around 1980, SAC has offered advanced studies in architecture and urbanism under the directorship of eminent, world-class architects. The programme is today led by its dean Ben van Berkel and its programme director Dr. Johan Bettum succeeding the Spanish architect, Enric Miralles and the British architect, Peter Cook.
The general aim of the programme is to contribute to the advance of architecture through the excellence of its graduates. Students are thus prepared for a professional and/or academic career where their individual resources and talents contribute to the development of the field through outstanding practical, intellectual and creative merits. SAC’s activities comprise of advanced research and experiments that pertain to contemporary design processes, the use of computerised technology as well as design and construction of complex geometric forms with advanced material systems.
The programme is motivated by the ambition that architecture can and must continue to contribute to the social, cultural, economic and artistic forms of our society. It aims to bring students and professionals with a prior degree in architecture or related fields - with a keen interest in advanced, contemporary problems in architecture - further in their professional and academic training through the formulation of a highly qualified and personal diploma thesis based on advanced design procedures in relation to specific problems in architecture.
With the increasing social, economic and environmental demands on architecture, the profession must develop new knowledge and design strategies to retain its cultural relevance. In particular, the influx of new computational and processing technologies pose at once an enormous pressure on architects to transform their ways of thinking and working while also offering new avenues for design processes.
For this reason, SAC engages with contemporary processing and material technologies to advance contemporary design skills and procedures. This is pursued in a unique manner through the assimilation of various technological aspects into the design process on a methodological, strategic and practical level.
At the same time SAC continuously seeks to benefit from its close relation to the fine arts. Being part of one of the best and most prestigious art academies in the world supplies SAC with exclusive contributions from world renowned artists and theorists as well as the vibrant life of the art studios in the Städelschule. The alternative and socially engaged discourse in the arts represents a vital resource to SAC.
SAC’s Master programmes build on a two-year structure. The programme caters to each student’s individual talents and interests cultivating these in relation to international standards in architecture. While SAC’s teaching programme is specifically focused on architecture and architectural design, on a more general level, through the conduct of research and experimentations, the students learn a wide array of transferrable skills that they can later apply to a range of professional activities. This illustrates the crux of postgraduate studies where graduating students must be equipped with a broad set of tools in order to best meet the challenges of an ever-changing field where the parameters are often fluid.
SAC’s academic offerings are exclusive and distinct from the few comparable programmes in Europe and the US. It is based on a continuous research structure that is combined with a fundamental commitment to the powers of architectural design. Research and project-work are conducted in an intense and demanding atmosphere and formulated in close collaboration with specialists from a wide range of professional and research fields.
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