Studying architecture at TU Wien
Architecture is invisible. Naturally, we often use this term to describe all aspects of our built environment – from the home to the cultivated landscape. But architecture is also an activity, a professional practice of designing and producing future realities. Architecture means listening: What does the client really want? What will the occupants need? Architecture means negotiating: How can the differing interests among project stakeholders be reconciled? Architecture means designing: How can space, form, and construction be synthesized into a complete and functional whole? Architecture means planning: Is the design proposal tenable both economically and ecologically, in terms of its entire life cycle from initial construction through its operation phase to potential demolition and disposal? Architecture means organising: How can the many activities needed to carry a project through several years to realisation be most efficiently coordinated? It is not until the very end of a complexly intertwined sequence of activities that architecture actually comes into existance as a perceivable object, as something that may move us.
The profession of architecture is as varied as the activities needed for achieving a successful work of architecture, and not nearly as glamorous as celebrity news media would have us think. Architects are indeed designers and engineers, visionaries and practitioners, managers and researchers – but rarely all of these at once. Rather, they usually become specialised in a particular role in the process, even if the declared profession demands keeping an eye on the greater whole (in contrast to design professions that are specialised by definition).
The aim of architecture studies is thus twofold: firstly, gaining the professional skills necessary for contributing to the overall success of architectural works in general; and secondly, recognising which professional role one may best master in-depth as an individual. The architecture programme at TU Wien offers an optimal foundation for achieving both these goals: The bachelor curriculum, which teaches the core professional skills, is followed by a master programme that offers a range of possibilities to individually deepen the focus in a more specialised context. As an alternative to the design-oriented Master of Architecture, the faculty also offers a research-based master programme in Building Science and Technology, which focusses on advanced building technologies and computer-aided design.
The future of architecture – in terms of the built environment as well as professional practice – is hardly foreseeable. The pressure of change is enormous, due to both economic conditions and new forms of organising building design and construction. It is also becoming increasingly apparent just how drastic changes in the consumption of global resources must be to avoid an ecological collapse. The construction and operation of our built environment alone is responsible for 40% of global energy consumption. A further 20% are attributable to transportation, which is fundamentally influenced by urban and regional planning decisions. Social tensions at local and global levels are unavoidable and call for creative solutions. If we assume that architecture reflects (or more precisely: negotiates) the cultural and social developments of our time in space and form, it becomes clear that our students must be prepared for a future professional practice that we can only roughly surmise.
Thus it is all the more important that the university recognises itself as a liberated place of research, as a space of trust between students and teachers. As educators, we support our students with the competence gained through our experience in their endeavor to identify new tasks and develop new solutions to challenges that lie at and beyond the current horizon of our vision.
For this enterprise, the necessary optimism and motivation of young people is our most valuable resource. Those who have the needed energy and interest for highly complex challenges, as well as an express talent for designing space and form, have what it takes to study architecture at our faculty.