Building places to live, work, or learn in; designing spaces incorporating both aesthetic and cultural reflection: architecture is characterized by this challenging desire to serve everything while aspiring to improve our lifestyle
A building always fits into an existing context and must carry meaning, which requires the broadest possible architectural reflection. When it comes to suggesting ways in which people can live together, to offer them opportunities for interaction and sharing, urban planning, human and social sciences, and history of architecture all naturally take center stage, both in the architect’s training and throughout his or her professional career.
Volume modeling, studying the light, daring to try new materials, or designing a structure are all tasks in which the architect must demonstrate great creativity. The challenges of sustainable development which, for example, means careful use of energy, space, and soil, are today part and parcel of his or her approach.
As an architect, you are not, however, always satisfied with purely conceptual work that you can carry out at a drawing table or in front of a screen: after having developed a project, it also falls to you to prepare its execution and to manage the building work, not unlike the conductor of an orchestra, overseeing the execution of the work which must be completed within the framework of the set budget and fixed deadlines. The architect’s field of activity has greatly widened during the past few years, because now you can practice your skills in fields ranging from heritage management to the remediation of sites and property valuation.
Training in architecture must be able to meet varied problems. It relies on a structured methodological approach which incorporates the interdependency of the architect’s levels of action, namely land, city, and building.
Today, Bauhaus’s almost century-old premise “from the door handle to the city” must therefore be revised because the architect works in increasingly complex fields which cannot be reduced to one discipline but which call for a set of combined skills.
Studies in architecture are not structured like those in EPFL’s other departments: its teaching relies on the perpetual dialogue between practice and theory. Consequently, during the first year, you will take classes dealing with theory and the history of architecture, the city, land, building techniques, means of representing and modeling, all while working in parallel at the workshop in which you will develop an architectural project. Sciences such as geometry and physics shall also be part of your training.
The practice of an “architectural project” will enable you to better understanding theoretical teaching which in turn will feed your own reflections and their implementation in the project. These contrasts will be instrumental in developing your approach, your personality, and your autonomy. Throughout your studies, your will have your own personal workplace in a workshop, access to computing tools and machines in the models workshop, a well-stocked library is at your disposal, the opportunity to attend numerous lectures on art, science, architecture, human sciences, and of attending exhibitions on campus that are at the cutting-edge of these fields.
Study visits, workshop visits, and personal travel are important factors in your training, because they put you in contact with the built work and its historical, natural, and sociocultural context. They will also provide opportunities to learn sketching and photographic techniques, indispensable tools for an architect. Furthermore, you have to do a one-year professional internship between the undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Please note that the information regarding the programs’ structure as well as details of the study plan may be subject to change.
Video (in French): Raphaël, student in Architecture, testimonial
With your MSc in hand, you can begin your career by joining a firm of architects. You will then be able to get involved in all of the different stages of executing projects (accommodation, schools, hospitals, stadia, etc.). Your varied tasks will range from sketches and making scale models to supervising workshops or drawing up bids and estimates. Later on, as a project leader, you will be responsible for a small team made up of architect colleagues, designers, and interns. You will then have to coordinate your client’s requests and contractors’ work– architects, engineers, companies, consulting firms – to successfully complete projects that are often complex. You can then decide to set up your own firm, whether it is alone or with some colleagues.
Some of you will also become involved with public administration in your work as an architect, but also in the field of urban planning or protecting cultural heritage. Another option is to carry on with your training by doing a PhD which opens the doors to teaching and research.
Looking for further details about this program? Please check its specific webpages or use the contacts below: