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Reiseuni Report | Making Of European Architecture Dialogue
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Reiseuni Report | Making Of European Architecture Dialogue

Vol:I Reiseuni • Pilot Project

[V:I_1 Six Points] [V:I_2 EAD + Master's Programme] [V:I_3 Alumni Reflections]

V:I_2. European Architecture Dialogue + Master's Programme | Dagmar Jäger
V:I_2.1 Reiseuni_lab: 3 Columns of the Pilot Project
V:I_2.2 European Master's Degree Programme. Key Qualities
V:I_2.3 Reiseuni Charter | Manifesto of the Pilot Project

The two-year postgraduate Master's Programme and the accompanying European Architecture Dialogue are the dual foundations of the Reiseuni.labs' activities, initiated 2008 in Berlin on the basis of a Charter to establish the international research network. The study programme combines the tradition of the Grand Tour with project-oriented, intensive workshops, taking place in 8 different cities through interdisciplinary cooperation. After decades of adjustment tendencies, the pilot project re-focuses the potentials of a European architectural research at varied universities by design practice and reflection thereof within the rich cultural heritage. More about key qualities, features and the research profile.

Beyond Germany's academic tradition of a research orientated teaching practice in the mind of the Humboldtian ideal of educating self-responsible individuals and not entirely unchallenged in times of financial crises, today ambitious universities throughout Europe still empower critical and open-minded engagement of architects for unfolding their discipline and its' high-quality teaching and research claim; multi-perspectival investigations of relevant questions and the genesis of knowledge are worked out by professors with their students in cooperative and interdisciplinary project contexts with the objective of ameliorating the social life of civil societies.

[Fig. 01] Reiseuni_lab logo by jp3
[Fig. 01] Reiseuni_lab logo by jp3

Learning, teaching and research work are integral parts of experimental project work, also as a didactic method to investigate complex design tasks and to discover new horizons. The topics of research by design deal with real problems of metropolitan societies or investigate and conceptualize future and sustainable options of community living of precise urban societies nowadays. Competitions and scenario development takes place in dialogue with local stakeholders, governors and responsible activists.

For more than a century, experimental laboratories and research-orientated, academic practice have held a key role in the renewing of Europe's architectural culture by charters of social engagement and visionary projects as means to ameliorate human and urban living spaces.

V:I_2.1.1 Interdisciplinary Research, Education and Exchange

In continuation of this architecture tradition, the interdisciplinary research network Reiseuni_lab understands education related to practice as responsible and social orientated project work on relevant topics of the society, "where the architects could accept the role of an «enabler», rather than that of a «provider» and where the profession can meet new challenges", rooted in human tradition; moreover the UIA/UNESCO charter of 2011 emphasizes the importance of the architecture education with the aim of a generalist education, "[t]hat architectural education develops the capacity in students to be able to conceptualise, design, understand and realise the act of building within a context of the practice of architecture (...) which gives physical form to the needs of society and the individual." [1]

[1] UNESCO/UIA Charter for Architectural Education, revised version of 2011; p. 3, p.6.

[Fig. 02] Reiseuni_lab, members and teaching professors 2015
[Fig. 02] Reiseuni_lab, members and teaching professors 2010-2014

Since 2008, the Reiseuni_lab develops and discusses controversial European architectural and urban problems through workshop cooperation, colloquia, round tables and conferences in dialogue with local stakeholders for knowledge production and transfer thereof. In the tradition of Humboldt's ideas of a university as think tank for civil society, the lab has integrated professors of architecture, urban planning and art from 14 European universities and institutions to act as knowledge transfer platform, together with young professionals and students. Three columns have been developed since then: The postgraduate Master's degree programme for an international student body, the research network Reiseuni_lab and the platform of research symposia, exchange colloquia and exhibitions, the European Architecture Dialogue. The international group of students of each academic rotation has been working together with an international network of local experts, students and professors on architectural and urban problems virulent to the regions of the participating universities.

V:I_2.1.2 Architektur.Studium.Generale: Master's Degree Programme at Brandenburg University of Technology

 [Fig. 03] EAD#1 at Cottbus, Poster, 2010 >>>EAD#1 at Reiseuni.blog
[Fig. 03] EAD#1 at Cottbus, Poster, 2010
>>>EAD#1 at Reiseuni.blog

During the cooperation from 2010 to 2013, two academic cycles of the international Master's Programme "Architektur.Studium.Generale" [A.S.G.] with altogether 36 postgraduate students from 13 different nations have been realized under the roof of the coordinating German university BTU Cottbus. In ten different cities and universities of South, Central and North East Europe, multifaceted teaching and research approaches were realized in 16 workshops.

[Fig. 04_1-2] Schedule of Architektur.Studium.Generale 2010-12
[Fig. 04_1-2] Schedule of Architektur.Studium.Generale 2010-12

The first European Architecture Dialogue between eight universities and seven countries was held at BTU Cottbus in 2010 and due to the presentation of the partner universities. The starter conference was to introduce the professor's research focus and their special view to the transformation of the European city in the beginning of the 21st century. The international professors group of the lab signed the charter in November 2010. After following conferences in Innsbruck (2011), Kiel (2012), Berlin (2012) and Tallinn (2014), today, the lab integrates professors of architecture, urban planning and art of about 14 universities of Europe & Israel as also engaged alumni of the first two cycles. The Academy of the Arts, Berlin has been supporting the network since 2009 as platform for exhibitions and meetings.[2]

[2] The non-continuation of the programme under the roof of BTU Cottbus was due to a university fusion in 2012-13: the Technical University and the University of Applied Sciences, the two academic institutions at the federal country of Brandenburg.

V:I_2.1.3 Double Degree Programme of European Architecture of TTÜ with UAL

In cooperation with the project's founders of Berlin, Dagmar Jäger and Christian Pieper, the director of the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies Irina Raud at Tallinn University of Technology, was the driving force with the rector Andres Keevallik at Estonia, to enable a second period under the roof of TTÜ. Since 2013, the international Master's programme has been developed as bridging double degree between Tallinn and Lisbon.

>>>European Architecture Dialogue at Tallinn University of Technology, 2014

After the EAD#5 Tallinn Kick-off conference in 2014, that served to conclude the experiences of the first period of the professors in exchange with alumni and new partners of the Reisuni_lab, the Master's degree Programme of European Architecture has been opened in 2015. In cooperation with experienced network partners like Ricardo Carvalho from UAL Lisbon, Maria Schneider from University of Innsbruck and Rhys Martin from UdK Berlin, during the second period we have been able to establish new partnerships like the cooperation with Claudia Perren, Bauhaus Dessau, Marusa Zorec from University Ljubljana, colleagues form NB Haifa School of Design Lenka Cederbaum, Horacio Schwartz and Esa Laaksonen from Aalto Academy in Helsinki. Completing the two years programme, now the master's degree programme offers qualified postgraduate students the possibility to obtain a double degree, a Master's Degree of Science (TTÜ) of European Architecture and a Master in Architecture (UAL).

>>>Schedule Master' s programme of European Architecture 2015 – 2017

V:I_2.1.4 Knowledge Network: Starting Period of the Pioneer Project

The Reiseuni_lab utilizes the on-going transformation of the European system of higher education "after Bologna" to establish an exchange of knowledge between cities and institutions in a formal cooperation between universities, schools of fine art, non-academic institutions, university faculties and postgraduate students.

>>>Schaffensprozesse im Dialog

[Fig. 05] Round table at Berlin University of the Arts, about the making-of – an interdisciplinary dialogue between the artistic disciplines and their research responsibility;
[Fig. 05] Round table at Berlin University of the Arts, about the making-of – an interdisciplinary dialogue between the artistic disciplines and their research responsibility

After 10 years of experimenting project-orientated, studio-based methods of teaching and research about design by interdisciplinary approaches in multiple formats and in different types of universities in Germany and throughout Europe, in 2008, the Reiseuni_lab was founded in Berlin by D. Jäger & C. Pieper (>>>jp3_architecture & design). The two founders had the main goal to initiate a cooperative European think tank, combining a Master's Programme and a research platform: Pioneer teaching concepts, together with universities, professors, local stakeholders and young professionals as real laboratory about controversial and acute problems of European urban living today – a postgraduate programme, taking place at 8 different institutions and countries. In 7 points, the >>>Reiseuni Charter condensed the philosophy of the project since its inception.

[Fig. 06] Reiseuni_lab Kitchen Round Table at Hufelandstraße, Berlin 2009
[Fig. 06] Reiseuni_lab Kitchen Round Table at Hufelandstraße, Berlin 2009

To create the network, each of the four ‚Kitchen Round Tables' between 2008 to 2010 in Berlin served not only to bring together professors and supporters with experience in international cooperation and engaged in architectural research, to share menus throughout Europe with around 14 guests each – professors, students and important co-operators from the 'first hour', like Inken Baller, Rainer W. Ernst, Rhys Martin, Carolin Schönemann and Chris Burns – but also to open the discourse about experiences in international contexts of summer academies, to discuss about strategies in institutionalization of international cooperation and to think about consequences of European education and research after Bologna.

[Fig. 07_1-4] Reiseuni, Process of institutional Set-up A.S.G 2010-12
[Fig. 07_1-4] Reiseuni, Process of institutional Set-up A.S.G 2010-12

Since its first approval in 2010 at BTU Cottbus, the Master's degree programme has been a challenging new approach of international architectural education and research within existing structures of established universities – challenging for all participants not only with regard to the establishment of a Master's degree programme, developed beyond the national borders of 8 countries and university landscapes, but also in generating a hybrid financing structure, initiating scholarships and co-financing from public and private sources, in finding paths through and within academic administration and in establishing a fruitful intercultural communication and interdisciplinary cooperation between all participants of until now more than 20 countries.

V:I_2.1.5 European Architecture Dialogue: Evaluation from Inside and Outside

The yearly conferences accompany the pilot project since 2010 in order to strengthen the scientific architectural network between professors and alumni and to enable a critical knowledge transfer about objectives and results. Upon the rich context of the intercultural discourse, the European Architecture Dialogue serves to discuss the workshop results within a colloquium format – including lectures, round tables and exhibitions – and to present the 5 months Master's thesis results of each academic year within the final symposium in a public space, rotating between the participating institutions.

[Fig. 08] Reiseuni_lab Round Table & Lectures University Innsbruck, 2011
[Fig. 08] Reiseuni_lab Round Table & Lectures at University of Innsbruck, 2011

Beyond this, the quality criteria of the pilot project are permanently developed and surveyed by a couple of implemented instruments: The work of the curriculum committee (professors of participating universities), team-teaching in all workshops, guest critics from the lab and also invited external guest critics – local stakeholder and professionals – and critical feed-back orientated presentations of all workshops (in-between and final results), public exhibitions after each workshop and discussions with local governors in the participating cities. The research is accompanied by external knowledge input and input from within the university's colleague's body. Research clusters are founded in adequate team constellations for each analytic and focused investigation by the international team of the student body.

[Fig. 09] Reiseuni_lab, EAD, ASG, How it works, 2010-2012, first period
[Fig. 09] Reiseuni_lab, EAD, ASG, How it works, 2010-2012, first period

The Reiseuni_lab, members of the teaching staff in the second period, act as research advisory board, an academic network of participating universities, to accompany the project concerning assessments, research goals and editing publications since 2014. Regularly coordinated Skype conferences since the beginning of the programme in 2010 with professors of the network are part of establishing a culture of open-minded communication, of exchange and discourse about quality and examination criteria within the common goals of the agreed Charter and programme outlines.

 

"Working within a team meant less executing an individual's ideas and more convincing each other to lead to a synergy of ideas. To be able to cope with such conditions, everyone needed to be in a position to grasp the overall picture of every project at all times: not only to deepen an understanding of a certain part individually, but to be able to transmit this to become the common knowledge of the group. This resulted in a design process based on understanding, debating and compromise."

>>>Vol:I_3.1 Pille Noole + Ioannis Lykouras: Adaptable by Design

V:I_2.2.1 Key Features of the two-year Master's Degree Programme

What are the relevant fields today in terms of rethinking cities beyond the limits of growth? How do phenomena such as de-industrialisation, touristification or the never-ending urban sprawl affect the challenges of architect's? And: How do we generate site-specific solutions in a socially responsible mind-set, together with students, professors and local experts?

All European metropolitan areas have to rethink and to transform neglected districts. The project-orientated workshop sequence enables to focus on open questions with a local, but superordinate European relevance within a defined geographical and cultural context. Research fields like heritage transformation, tourism developments, urban waterfronts and infrastructure are dealt with as well as industrial areas out of function, modular settlements in state of repair, devastated landscapes of exploitation or urban lost spaces between infrastructures of mobility.

[Fig. 10] Multi perspectival approaches to complex heritage situations. Workshop Cottbus 2010
[Fig. 10] Multi perspectival approaches to complex heritage situations. Workshop Cottbus 2010 >>>Cluster Cottbus

The tremendous transformation of the European city requires individuals who are able to perceive things in association, as team-generalists. The programme is a unique approach to research based education: it combines the idea of the classical artist journey with the interdisciplinary, project-orientated workshop tradition and teamwork, studio work and architectural excursions. >>>Vol:I_2.3 Reiseuni Charter

Cumulative research by design about relevant questions, project-work as tool of multi-perspective investigation and as think tank for local governors, heuristic empirical design reflexivity and knowledge transfer – these characteristics represent the key features of the pilot project. The two-year training consists of eleven workshops and the Master's thesis and takes place at six different universities in Tallinn, Lisbon, Haifa, Berlin-Dessau, Innsbruck and Ljubljana, to develop open questions across greater Europe.[3]

[3] 2010 to 2013: Eight universities of Cottbus, Tallinn, Lisbon, Berlin, Marseille, Wroclaw, Innsbruck, Seville, Tel Aviv.

Students work together with local experts and professors on site in the different countries of greater Europe. They are immersed in different approaches to research through design and design thinking, in order to experience the complexity of cultural attitudes toward architecture and urban design.

The interdisciplinary programme prepares students for the wide range of international professional requirements: heterogeneous knowledge on design and research methods, on architecture history, typologies and construction are needed as well as a wide-range canon of multi-disciplinary knowledge on living cultures and political conditions of urban planning, the metropolitan society as source and client of spatial genesis – a prerequisite for the suitability of the architect taking the task of a team generalist.

The broader aim is the enrichment of the pan-European architectural discourse, thus reinforcing the sense of responsibility, vision and capabilities – as necessary skills for a top leadership role in the professional field – within an international and interdisciplinary network.

V:I_2.2.2 Structure of the Study Curriculum

[Fig. 11] Reiseuni – Workshop Structure of the Master's Programme 2010
[Fig. 11] Reiseuni – Workshop Structure of the Master's Programme 2010

With the professional needs for educating architects as generalists, team players and 'interconnectors' related to practice, the Master's Programme suggests an interdisciplinary educational track in contrast to the specialization:

[Fig. 12] Reiseuni – Workshop Structure of the Master's Programme 2015)
[Fig. 12] Reiseuni – Workshop Structure of the Master's Programme 2015)

The curriculum is composed of a sequence of 8 project workshops, 3 design reflection workshops and the Master's thesis lasting 5 months. The series of eight project workshops take place one after the other in different cities of broader Europe, on different and site-specific local topics. The professors work together with a small group of international postgraduate students during the two years (2010: 19 students; 2011: 17 students).

[Fig. 13_1-3] Exemplary standard study schedules 2011-13
[Fig. 13_1-3] Exemplary standard study schedules 2011-13

The international group of students always follows the workshop sequence at the participating universities together, whereas the participating professors integrate the workshop as an additional element in their home university's Master's studies. Postgraduate students thus have the opportunity to appropriate, elaborate and reflect on complex architectural and design knowledge across diverse cultures of architectural thinking. In the five-months elaboration of the Master's thesis, one of the eight workshop topics is delved into in both a theoretical and practical manner. More complex research questions, that have become apparent in the workshops, have been further analysed.

Three consecutive Design Reflection workshops serve to strengthen individual positions, to reflect approaches and processes, serve to learn to "design the design processes" and finally serve for all participants – professors and students – to evaluate and exchange the results of the programme within the frame of colloquia, symposia and exhibitions. >>>Vol:III_11 Workshop Cluster: Design Reflection

V:I_2.2.3 Workshop Qualities and Elements

In the 8 project workshops of the programme, localized task assignments are formulated and supervised responsibly by the professors from the local institution of higher education. With realistic relevance, open questions are concretized in a cooperative and step-by-step manner. For this purpose, process-orientated and reflexive strategies, individual and collective design methods, communicative argumentation and diverse methods of decision-making serve to develop a practice-related basis of discourse for the design task.

a) The workshop programme

The programme defines the research goal, time line, relevant literature and the research fields in advance and has been issued at the beginning of each workshop.

[Fig. 14] Structure & Elements of the Workshops
[Fig. 14] Structure & Elements of the Workshops

During the first period of the programme until 2013, students trained two different workshop formats of each four or six weeks duration; since the second period of the programme with the start in 2015, students train multiple periods for the intensive project work – two weeks, four, five and six weeks as full workshop period of a total of 11 workshops; the first three semesters serve to prepare the 4th semester, the Master's thesis research work. Two main periods and one in-between-presentation characterize each project workshop:

b) Analysis and multifaceted concepts or scenarios (1st period)

In the first part at the beginning of the workshop, site visits, architectours and investigations like case studies, plan mappings, tracing of history, morphology or remembrance, site models etc. support the intensive process of individual appropriation of complex conditions approaching the context and to establish specific problem-focused knowledge about the research context of the task. Theoretical background knowledge on urban and architecture history etc. is generated by lectures from professors, students and guest experts to introduce and focus the project work from multiple perspectives in accompanying seminaristic formats. In the initial phase of work, the parameters are examined and evaluated trans-disciplinarily, and the most possible results of investigation and basic knowledge that are needed for developing the superordinate problem by the whole group, are acquired and shared through open sources, by 'pin ups' and lectures.

[Fig. 15] Reiseuni_lab – Key Features of Workshop Study, Presentation at UAL Lisbon, 2011
[Fig. 15] Reiseuni_lab – Key Features of Workshop Study, Presentation at UAL Lisbon, 2011

In a starting step-by-step manner, individual concepts, approaches and a set of urban or process scenarios or key ideas are developed individually or in groups. Short design experiments during the starting research work contribute to intensify the focus on courses of action and key issues. Alternative approaches to solving a task are investigated and discussed in teams.

c) Interim presentation

The first documentation, exhibition and discussion of in-between results serve for feed back, public critique, public local participation or involvement and knowledge exchange of all participants.

d) Work out & documentation (2nd period)

The second working period allows the exemplary elaboration, the detailing of one of the selected scenarios and concepts, with continuous feedback of the group and the professors, regarding the conditions and circumstances specific to the design. In conclusion, the results are prepared for viewing and final presentation, for documentation and assumption in text and visual representation to be discussed publicly at the respective higher education institution or the cooperating institution of local governors of the city or district.

Communicative formats such as dialogical teamwork, group discussions, individual critical sessions, brainstorming, internal "pin-ups", round tables, formal presentations and semi-public exhibitions constitute the reflective and imparting framework for the project work. Changing, topic-related guest critiques and commentary from local experts support the work of the students and the benefit of the local, involved people. The project work is carried out in the spatial context of the studio and alternates between individual work and work as member of a team.

>>>Vol:III_0.2 Workshop Guide: Structure & key qualities of interdisciplinary project work

e) Design Methods: Reflection, documentation, dialogue

Three consecutive Design Reflection workshops (until 2013 titled "Design Methods") serve to strengthen individual positions, to reflect methods, strategies, team approaches and to analyse processes, serve to learn to design the design processes and to describe projects verbally and visually. The workshops support the students in order to ameliorate their intercultural and cross-disciplinary discussion culture. And finally, the workshops serve for all participants – professors and students – to learn from each other, from the multi-perspectival problem-strategies and results and to evaluate and exchange the results of the programme in an open discourse.

[Fig. 16] EAD Kiel 2012, Poster
[Fig. 16] EAD Kiel 2012, Poster

Lectures' and reflections' focuses are the architecture schools, positions and the critical review of the European fields of research. The first design reflection workshop at the beginning of each cycle takes place as seminar and experimental analytic practice about theory, methodology and process design. The second course reflects all previous project workshops and ends up with the European Architecture Dialogue colloquium and exhibition to reflect the three semesters, before starting the last period of the Master's thesis. The third Design Reflection Workshop is developed as seminar workshop with examination, presentation and exhibition to prepare the research portfolio – topics and concepts for the Master's thesis worked out in research clusters.

>>>Vol:III_11 Design Reflection

V:I_2.2.4 Seven Chief Terms of Design Practice and Reflection

The responsible professors and universities regard this project as a comprehensive model for architectural education and research, where new approaches to issues of practical involvement of academic activities with acute and real demands, of European university cooperation towards working networks of universities with non-academic partners and local stakeholders are experimented. The approaches in research by design and about design are experienced within interdisciplinary collaboration structures and via cooperative communication formats. The emphasis on attendant, integrated research is tested in the curriculum of the European Master's Programme: Cumulative research by design practice, project-work as tool of multi-perspectival investigation and as think tank for local governors, heuristic empirical design reflexivity and knowledge transfer within the network and metropolitan or regional communities – these characteristics represent the objectives of the pilot project.

a) Project-orientated studies

The intensity gained by focusing exclusively on one complex question is the key to a hands-on, pragmatic didactic, educational experience and research orientated project work, interdisciplinary approach, inherent reflection and dialogue in multiple team-work-constellations. Urban planning and architectural questions as well as experimental, spatial, structural and artistic issues have been examined at all scales. Topic and problem focused seminars and design work in architecture theory and design practice, architecture excursions (ArchitecTours), expert lectures of professors or guests and critical presentations are the didactic elements of each workshop. The fields of studies have both artistic and scientific components. Students are supported to develop each independently and individual positions, based on multi-perspectival research approaches and analytical and artistic methods, in the frame of critical communication of ideas, objectivising arguing and investigation towards reasonable solutions as enriching part of local expert discourses.

b) Cumulative research practice

Each responsible professor defines the research focus and relevant urban or architectural question, to work on once a year during each cycle of the study programme. The workshop of each academic rotation takes place as cumulative research practice of the university and professor. The workshops elaborate local topics with superordinate relevance like sustainable heritage transformation, qualifying of tourism developments, urban waterfronts & infrastructure. Consequently, knowledge is emerging and growing step-by-step by this series of workshops during different cycles, with different groups, through modified perspectives, scales, through exchange and continuous critique with the group of professors and alumni. Each topic of a workshop series represents a superordinate problematic for the challenges of a region (the Alps), city (Lisbon, Berlin, Tallinn etc.) or even country (Costa del Sol).

c) Site specific design practice

The teaching is realized on topics of 8 different local problems and specific sites, defined by each responsible professor from each of the eight participating universities or institutions in cooperation with local lecturers, researchers and governors. The focus on one relevant task is developed with regard to society's demands and design research requirements to be investigated through interdisciplinary, multimedia, reflective & discursive approaches and within one spatial, physical context of the region which might be appropriated physically, socially and perceptively by design investigation tools.

d) Research by design

The cooperation takes place through research by design, the contemporary practice of open, research-orientated and studio-based architectural project work via workshop formats. The implemented design methods and approaches include multiple changes of disciplinary and scale perspectives and change of focuses, of media and tools, of relevant and isolated fields of research, of contexts and scales, of constellations of teamwork and exchange, to address the problem by most possible views during the limited time and frame of the workshop. The research goals, methods, criteria and the schedule become transparent through the workshop programme as starting point of collective research approaches and represents the fundament of the multi-perspectival research quality.

e) Research about design

Three consecutive Design Reflection workshops serve to reflect positions, approaches and processes and to evaluate and exchange the results of the programme between professors, students and alumni. The design reflective workshops serve to investigate diverse methods, strategies and tools, to analyse, document and critically reflect on interdisciplinary contemporary and historical design positions and introduces the students in self-empirical reflection as strategy of "empathic design approaches" and finally to develop design research concepts.

f) Design studio as space for intercultural team-work and networking

The students of the international group work in cooperation with the on-site students of each university and in dialogue with professors and guest lecturers of the university and country within the frame of the workshop at each university. The studio serves as spatial foundation for integrated research: Project and seminar work, teamwork, lectures, dialogue and knowledge-exchange within the atmosphere and visual availability of all in-between results.

[Fig. 17] Studio spaces at BTU Cottbus, Class-02, 2011
[Fig. 17] Studio spaces at BTU Cottbus, Class-02, 2011

The neighbourhood of the individuals within the studio group create the needed density and intensive atmosphere of exchange and competition in-between the members of the class and other fellow students of different semesters ("vertical studios": master students of the international programme, local students of bachelor and master programmes) and enables group work in changing constellations during one project period.

g) Knowledge transfer

The exchange of the results, the knowledge transfer, takes place after each workshop in public exhibitions, with guest teaching and critics, by regular round tables and by yearly conferences of all participants, students and professors (Platform of European Architecture Dialogue). Collaboration, teamwork, dialogues across disciplines and with local governors unfolds diverse knowledge transfer options through open working bases, open sources of all working results and implemented various communication formats with critical feed back as peer conditions. The professors of all participating universities meet regularly in the frame of the in-between-colloquia, the final Master's thesis cooperation with symposia and diverse Skype meetings and through guest critic in workshops of their colleagues, to accompany the quality development.

V:I_2.2.5 From the Tradition of "Grand Tour" to a "Voyage" Master's Degree

The architecture and its doctrine of designing traditionally relate and synthesise technological, scientific and artistic knowhow with craftsmen skills and the necessary cultural knowledge of different countries - the experiential Techné. In the best case and after many years of study and practice, a multifaceted, interdisciplinary and intercultural experience and knowhow is gained only by one personality to be a generalist, today still known as a Baumeister [Master Builder, architect].

Since antiquity, architecture research and knowledge is generated throughout the context of interdisciplinary project work. The process of designing includes theoretical and practical elements and requires the direct confrontation with site-specific characteristics, the cultural and spatial context. The understanding of the territory and the context conditions around the task is generated by perception, analyses and physical experience of an individual and within the limits of the biographical reference frame and increasing knowledge. The collaboration is realized eye to eye, in direct confrontation of culture, landscape or urban and political contexts.

[Fig. 18] Analysis of K.F. Schinkels (1781-1841) lifelong Voyage-Learning-Practice, Student Work by Sebastian Seyfarth, Class-01, 2010
[Fig. 18] Analysis of K.F. Schinkels (1781-1841) lifelong Voyage-Learning-Practice, Student Work by Sebastian Seyfarth, Class-01, 2010

Voyages have been the historical starting point of traditional cultural experience and professional transfer throughout the generations. In Europe, the historically renown Grand Tour was established as research voyage since the renaissance. The German Waltz of craftsmen (Wanderjahre) and the travelling Master builders (Baumeister) had established their specific architectural learning culture through workshops and temporary stays since the early medieval times. Artists, craftsmen and architects voyage throughout Europe since centuries, to learn in situ about the most recent techniques and styles, to be educated in a generalist manner, about cultural centres, important buildings and cultural testimonials of foreign countries. The strategy of continuous observation through sketching and drawing serves for an analytic, creative and critical analysis, documentation, careful appropriation and reflective investigation.

For the architectural discipline, the key inspiration of aesthetic and holistic education is to physically visit and study the cultural centres of painting, architecture, music, sculpture and literature and to work temporarily in cooperation with diverse professionals in changing places. With the technical conquest of the oceanic steam navigation at the beginning of the 19th century, the geographical horizon of the architect's journey has been growing towards Asia, the Near East, North Africa and even towards the countries of the Far East.

Around the beginning of the 20th century until today, the influence of these multi-faceted and cross cultural studies in modern times – of art, of architecture and of the living cultures of foreign people – can be read throughout the built heritages, the art works, the conserved sketch books and artistic and architectural published voyage diary literature, but also throughout the socio-cultural experience transfers and key ideas of the western architects, having been abroad. During the two years of the Master's Programme, the students investigate the sites, develop projects, strategies of the schools and experience the built context, but also the social life, grown interconnections of history and politics within a broader European context.

[Fig. 19] Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), graphic representation, Travels & Practice, Design Research, Student Work by Reiko Reinson, 2010
[Fig. 19] Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), graphic representation, Travels & Practice, Design Research, Student Work by Reiko Reinson, 2010

Until nowadays and in global times, the practice of architects remains always site-specific; it is realized within an intercultural and cross disciplinary dialogue, responsibly relating complex contexts; the practice is deeply rooted in the individual experiences, the life-long widened horizon of knowing, thinking and making, of the architect as a learning personality throughout the whole life time. Today, architecture excursions [‚Architectours'], international cooperation, summer workshops, interdisciplinary temporary academies, internships or guest working periods in the offices of colleagues in foreign countries, international project teams within global operating offices and international competitions characterize the complex, but always site specific, locally responsible and "glocally" minded architecture culture.

Tradition of academic cooperation through Erasmus programmes

Since the establishment of the first Erasmus programmes all over Europe only few decades ago in 1987, the opening of the university landscape lead towards increasing knowledge transfer and internationalization. The most important convergence of European universities in the 20th century, the reform towards a basic framework of three cycles and the conversion of the graduation system of all disciplines and programmes via ECTS, signed by education ministers in the Bologna declaration in 1999, has mostly ensured the easier mobility of students after the first degree and the comparability in learning outcomes and standards of quality of higher education qualifications.

Next to all critical discourses and well-known loss of national, historically grown university traditions and degrees (like the Diplom-Ingenieur), in the meantime, almost every academic discipline and engaged members of the faculties of architecture have since then been using the reformation for re-ordering of their study programmes towards critical reviewing, cutting off antiquated traditions, implementing new programmes, objectives, elements and integrating a contemporary adjustment of all structures, contents and topics.

The last decade of Erasmus moreover supported international research and education excellence via joint and double degree Master's Programmes: Interdisciplinary study programmes which are worked out in cooperation of strong partner universities, offering gifted students high quality education and research beyond disciplinary and national borders. Students are educated by different schools of thinking, by different methods of research and education and get in touch with an international network of professors, which are engaged in developing prestige projects for their universities.

The joint degrees, which have been realized in the meantime, represent mainly high-technical specialized disciplines or cross-culturally connected fields of disciplines. This university cooperation combines their study programmes and curricula within existing structures of education. In a two-year Master's Programme comprising four semesters, students change between a maximum of two to four different universities of the cooperative group per semester.[4] A generalist architectural education as a project-orientated and cooperative research model and as Master's degree programme taking place in workshops in multiple cities from North to South Europe is still unique in this system, despite the convincing experiences of the discipline with the formats of interdisciplinary project work and workshop concentration, synthesizing and interconnecting knowledge, experiences and cooperation towards solutions.

[4] See the examples of the first period of Erasmus Mundus till 2013. Research within the frame of PhD programmes of architecture with other disciplines are e.g. automation and robotics in (un)structured environments der TUM or the PhD Programme of "Sapienza" University of Rome, a doctoral school in architectural sciences grouping five different PhD programmes.

More: >>>Vol:I_1 Architect's Profession & Education – Introduction

V:I_2.2.6 Architectural Research Fields in Europe

Regardless of the national and disciplinary borders of Europe, a comparable range of democratic design approaches, urban planning concepts, hybrid new building typologies and process-orientated solutions are needed to transform the existing urban fabric.

Especially the neglected built heritage and the exploited cultural landscapes, the wastage of resources and the multiple borders of modernity – left during the 20th century and caused by industrialization, mobilization and urban sprawl – are important and acute design problems and therefore strong motivation for European architects today to work within a cooperative research dialogue to seek for new concepts of urban living and common ethics, respecting the 'limits of growth': Sustainability, sufficiency, ecological balance, civil society and humanity as binding forces. The mostly young democratic societies of the Reiseuni_Lab network create the open-minded space of a critical dialogue to generate and exchange knowledge in dialogue and by site specific investigations via comparable and discursive scientific and artistic approaches and the open platform of the international Master's programme with its European Architecture Dialogue.

Interdisciplinary dialogue as think tank for civil societies

In the course of democratization processes, the de-hierarchisation of European civil societies implements the modification of architecture design practice and urban planning strategies. The contemporary practice requires the ability of professionals to interact with multiple co-operators from other disciplines, clients or studio team colleagues. The architect needs a strong position for decision-finding, but is as well required to be able to understand others needs in a sense of empathy, to envision different cultures and languages for different worlds of imagination, next to the experience with multiple contexts of people and scientific disciplines.

For university education, this means to provide group research next to teaching analytical methods and to emphasise strategies of synthesis finding via interdisciplinary research by design and by dialogue.

[Fig. 20] Reiseuni_lab Research Platforms
[Fig. 20] Reiseuni_lab Research Platforms

Transparent and reflected design practice and communication strategies form the central methodological repertoire of the generalist. Empathic strength, high integration capacity, a clear individual attitude and versatile fields of knowledge and updated experiences of design practice are complex fields for a university-level teaching of architecture today.

The central didactic framework of the Master's Programme is the balance between project work and reflection thereof, taking place in teams and workshops, which are varying in site, topic, scale and school, to train different interdisciplinary approaches, methods and communications skills as experience-based design education. Critical dialogues with external guests and professors of the network frame the research and experience growing of all who are involved within the intercultural exchange and expert-non-expert-language and -thinking. The permanent and critical position finding of each member of the group towards the changing challenges should enforce the individuals as personalities in growing throughout the study time.

For the students, the European Master's degree programme combines the idea of the traditional educational journey abroad of architects and artists with the intensive and interdisciplinary workshop culture of architecture and urban planning. After about 28 years of European Erasmus programme experiences, the pilot project deepens the exchange tradition of students and professors of multiple national backgrounds after 3 decades towards regular and intensive cooperation. The growing Reiseuni_lab cooperates in teaching, research exchange and conference debates.

[Fig. 21] Reiseuni_lab EAD Kiel – Round Table >>>Lost in Lessingbad
[Fig. 21] Reiseuni_lab EAD Kiel – Round Table >>>not Lost in Lessingbad

Today, the participating professors, alumni and universities start to act together as interdisciplinary expert group, establishing a European, transnational dialogue as think tank for multi-dimensional investigations about acute and specific local tasks of metropolitan areas of all participating countries and universities.

[Dagmar Jäger, August 2014]

 

[Fig. 22] Schnittmuster Strategie. Publication
[Fig. 22] Schnittmuster Strategie. Publication
>>>Schnittmuster-Strategie.de

The concept of the Reiseuni pilot project has been developed on top of the seven-year research work and multiple projects, culminating in the "Schnittmuster Strategie" – a process oriented design theory, defended 2007 and published in 2008 at Reimer Verlag in Berlin. The PhD project and research publication investigates and connects experimental, artistic and playful procedures with methodical didactic qualities and positions itself in the context of the current discourse on artistic research and design methods. The creative model for collective aesthetic processes and their teaching in architectural design constitutes a model also for other artistic disciplines.

The design theory is presented within two parts: the first part places the three components of the strategy in their historic and contemporary context and analyses two selected design projects in a process representation. In the second part, philosophical, psychological and game-theoretical aspects of the design strategy are examined from three interdisciplinary perspectives. Finally, ten points summarize the teaching model and define the key terms.

Jäger Dagmar, "Schnittmuster-Strategie – Eine dialogische Entwurfslehre", Reimer Verlag 2008, 526 pages, ISBN: 978-3-496-01400-3

 

Programme principles of the European Research Project and postgraduate international Master's Degree Programme* of Reiseuni_lab

7 Points of the Reiseuni Charter

1 Transformation of the European City

Changes in contemporary lifestyle and working life are manifested in the transformation and reorganization of the European city at the beginning of the 21st century. Current design problems are to be resolved in a historic cultural setting and in the context of complex, pre-existing structures. Transformation occurs at all scales and across multiple disciplines: measures to increase density, transform function, make additions and insertions, as well as to restructure, to re-use and to re-programme the existing buildings and urban quarters, must be developed with respect to ecological sustainability. Multi-dimensional design and planning processes and participatory communication strategies are integral parts of the democratic planning and building of culture.

2 Dialogue and Research in Architecture

The European Master's Programme* is an international course of postgraduate studies implemented in cooperation with eight partner institutions of higher education. The intention of the pioneer programme is to renew generalist architectural education in the context of European culture and to refocus on the role of the university for new approaches in interdisciplinary research – in order to assume social responsibility, to recognize the university as a place for visionary thinking and to establish a forum for a European Architectural Dialogue. The practical objective is to run an institutionalized platform, where a cooperative programme, a research platform and a network of universities & non-university institutions address contemporary issues in architecture. The universities provide a place for independent discourse and debate through profound analysis, for the development of alternative solutions of urban life and regional planning issues, as well as for experimentation with process-oriented scenarios and positions. A wealth of experience from interdisciplinary practitioners permits the exchange between the institutes of higher education.

3 A Model for Architectural Education

This project can be considered as a comprehensive model for architectural education, where new approaches to issues of practical experience, internationality, mobility, interdisciplinary collaboration and communication, as well as the emphasis on attendant research are tested in practice. Topics of contemporary interest will be intensively studied, discussed and analysed, utilizing the resources of interdisciplinary theory, practical reflection as research by design and methodological strategies, research about design. The project is intended to be an inspiration for the Master's degree programmes in architecture, urban design and structural engineering at the partner universities and should serve as a model, a field for experiment, and a research laboratory for architecture in general. Heterogeneous teamwork experience for student work as well as team-teaching will be reviewed and analysed in the accompanying fields of reflection. Both, work on site and on different digital platforms, creating connections across national boundaries, will prompt the development of appropriate teaching models and communication tools. Students will be challenged with a broad variety of urban issues and different architectural methodologies during their education at different locations across broader Europe. The studies convey and delve into scientific methods, artistic strategies and practice-related technical knowledge and skills for the scope of architectural tasks in the European cultural sphere, as well as language, presentation and communication skills.

4 International Vocation as Team Generalist

The education offers high-calibre graduates who possess at least a bachelor's degree in architecture the opportunity to complete a two-year Master's Programme in architecture, at higher education institutions in regions and cities of broader Europe – in Portugal, Spain, Austria, Estonia, Finland, Israel, Slovenia and Germany. Upon successful completion of the Master's Programme, the academic degree "Master of Science" (M. Sc.) in Tallinn and the Master in Architecture of UAL Lisbon is conferred (since 2015). For the graduates of the study programme, the education creates the foundation for assuming architectural tasks with an awareness of local and country-specific building culture and urban development. The studies combine an artistic and academic education that prepares the students for an international career path in responsible positions in the production and politics of architecture and urban development. After completing their studies, the graduates are capable of independently designing, planning and implementing building tasks in different cultural and economic contexts, as well as developing, communicating or representing architectural and urban concepts or planning processes in international work contexts.

5 Interdisciplinary Strategy and Methodological Diversity

Today, ambitious architectural projects are generated in interdisciplinary working teams. From the beginning architecture integrates various contents and methods, combining contemporary and traditional knowledge in technology, art and culture. Still to this day, architects work in dialogue with engineers, planners, craftsmen, intellectuals and scientists. As team generalists, architects increasingly require – in addition to multiple technical and scientific competences in their own discipline – an understanding of group processes and communication dynamics, for success in their complex vocation. The professor's body and guest lecturers are composed of individuals from all relevant fields of architecture or related disciplines such as urban design, landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, civil and structural engineering or art, implementing different methods of their discipline and a diversity of team work strategies.

6 Intercultural Dialogue and Hands-on Practice

Traditionally, artists and architects travel to fulfil the professional demand for cultural education. Nowadays, architectural excursions, summer university programmes and international workshops are an integral part of architectural training. Diverse building cultures are studied on the location, within assignments developed in different urban contexts and in exchange with local stakeholders. Intercultural dialogue will take place between disciplines and individuals, across regional and national boundaries, languages and cultures. The European Master's Programme combines the idea of the classic educational journey abroad with the intensive, interdisciplinary and project-oriented architecture workshop of university practice. The training is structured around a series of eight project workshops in different cities and three workshops about methodology, focusing on topics reflecting the cultural and spatial connections and methods across greater Europe. The intensity gained by focusing exclusively on one complex assignment is the key to a hands-on, pragmatic educational experience. Urban planning, architectural, structural, spatial and artistic issues will be examined at all scales and in international teams. Students work together with local experts and professors on assignments relevant to the region and are challenged with a high degree of new information, knowledge and experience.

7 Knowledge Network, Internationality and Mobility

The Reiseuni_lab utilizes the on-going transformation of the European system of higher education "after Bologna" to establish an exchange of knowledge between cities and institutions in a formal cooperation between universities, schools of fine art, non-academic institutions, university faculties and postgraduate students. The selection of participants is international and intercultural: Universities and institutions of Germany, Austria, Estonia, Portugal, Finland, Spain, France, Poland, Slovenia and Israel joined the cooperation since 2009. The partnerships are open to develop architectural knowledge or to exchange different approaches in mutual agreement, in order to give interested universities the possibility to experiment the network's expertise. Each partner country engages one or two professors and might send three students. The class of up to 25 students is taught at the European universities, travelling together from one city and institution to the next. Institutions such as the Bauhaus Dessau or the Alvar Aalto Academy of Helsinki, together with external experts and the partner universities – under the roof of one Mother University – form an interdisciplinary platform.

The Reiseuni_lab enables a lively forum for knowledge transfer. Next to the Master's Programme cooperation, the partner network operates through annual conferences, exhibitions and publications, which support the continuous European Architecture Dialogue and exchange about research results, reflections and next activities.

[Dagmar Jäger, July 2008 | Signed by members of the Reiseuni_lab in November 2010 | Edited version, updated partner countries & degree of August 2015]
 

*The first period of the Master's Programme has been developed by members of the Reiseuni_lab under the roof of Brandenburg Technical University of Cottbus, titled "Architektur.Studium.Generale". From 2010 to 2013 two cycles of 36 international students have been matriculated. In 2014, the second period of the European Project has started, the "Master's Programme of European Architecture", under the roof of the Tallinn University of Technology, together with Universidade Autonoma de Lisboa (Double Degree Partner Institution) with first matriculation in autumn 2015.