The Master of Advanced Studies in Urban Design ETH is a research and design laboratory for testing new models for the pro-active development of urban territories of a globalized world.


As the making of the city is increasingly fractured by competing interests, the development of new modes of urban production becomes a prerequisite for considered action.


The MAS in Urban Design produces a new generation of design professionals — one equipped to deal with topics beyond the discipline.



01: About the program



The MAS in Urban Design is a one-year postgraduate master program in research and design. Study is structured around an investigation of urban conditions as they pertain to global phenomena and the development of practical tools for operating within such domains. As global economics rapidly reshape urban conditions and population movements caused by economical, ecological, or political crisis—at a speed seemingly beyond the control of planning— the pace of urbanization has rendered nearly impossible the provision of habitation in formal manners. The MAS program aims to link social, economic and ecological circumstances to create new, resilient ways of shaping urban territories. The MAS works with strategies as much as with tactics to redefine the role of the architect and planner in the making of the city today and to find new territories for design to engage.


The MAS program seeks design professionals interested in the investigation and development of tools for use in complex conditions. A culture of inquiry within the studio encourages the development of strong outlooks on the development of urban scenarios. Emphasis is put on method, incremental design, and tools of communication with the aim of preparing participants for interdisciplinary work within design offices, academic teams, or municipal agencies.



 Master of Advanced Studies in Urban Design (MAS ETH UD).


Each fall semester


Duration: 12 months


Language of instruction: English


Tuition: 15.000 CHF (including costs of excursion)


Application: Jan. 1–April 30, yearly
(late applications are accepted on a case-by-case basis)



02: Design and Research Laboratory


After 3 cycles of investigation in Ethiopia, Brazil and Egypt – the current cycle is focusing on another exemplary context for the design and research of urban development in a globalized world: Europe.


In addition to the studio forming the central component of the course, fieldwork, a theory seminar, workshops with municipal actors and experts, and the production of a publication provide a wide introduction to the multiple facets of contemporary urban design. These core classes provide the requisite number of credits (600 hours, 65 ECTS credits) necessary for graduation.


The studio that forms the main component of the course, takes a site as the foundation for both research and design proposals. Engagement with communities, urban actors, and municipal planning authorities in the location provides insight into the possibilities and challenges of urban design within a culture of dispersed and opposing agendas and decision-making power.

Divided into a fall- and a spring semester, the studio’s program focusses in a first phase on developing the participants’ practical tools. A strong emphasis will be put on critical comparative analysis, communication methods and process design on an architectural level within the framework of a site. By means of incremental research, the second semester will tackle the lager scale of urban strategies with a continuous effort to provide an inclusive response to the socio-political conditions of the housing market. 


Within this framework, the MAS program is in this cycle focusing on the effects of globalization and inclusivity on the various territories in Europe: Increasing mobility of financial and natural resources, commodities and people.



Thematic Focus


Inclusive Urbanism II : Migration


" Migration is not a new phenomenon. While our era is based on a mythology of geographical mobility and global migratory circulations, history reveals that migration is not a modern condition. In the quest for a better, safer life, people have always moved. But in the wake of Europe’s refugee crisis, it has never been such a pressing topic. These movements are unlikely to slow down in the near future, with enduring armed conflicts, economic hardships, and predicted climate change-induced mass migration. Crises have shed a dramatic light on movement of people as a rapid, ubiquitous, complex, and eminently spatial phenomenon. Circulations of people, goods, and capital, as much as their resettlement, have a visible, transformative impact upon space, at various scales.


Territories of Movements

The territorial scale is contained in the physical act of going from one place to another: crossing legal borders and national frontiers, oceans and water bodies, mountain ranges and manmade obstacles. From a countryside to another, flows of people transiting through productive landscapes imprint the intermediary scale of hinterlands and peripheries. But as migrants overwhelmingly aim for urban areas as entry point into new destinies, it is at the urban scale that the most impact of flux is felt. The economic, political, and social influence of migration shaped cities in many ways and continues to do so, with visible effects on architecture and urban forms.


Urban Design for 'Staying'


Within the framework of ‘Inclusive Urbanism,’ and after exploring the ‘Arrival City’ theme, the MAS program is tackling questions of migration and urban space, coined by the ‘Staying’ concept. Arguing that urban design is an innovative, resilient, and politically powerful tool for architects and planners to address such complex matters, and moving away from emergency solutions (e.g. refugee camps, transit centers), we explore that notion of ‘staying’ somewhere.

Inspecting the political, economic, and social reasons behind migration and the spatial conditions attached to both departure and arrival sites; the question of the relevance of design will be addressed. How can urban designers tackle such as situation? What does moving for a longer period of time and settling down socially, economically and culturally entails spatially at urban, rural and peri-urban scales? What can be the response of design to the notion of ‘staying’, in the framework of an inclusive urbanism practice?



Connecting the shores of Asia, Africa, and Europe, the Mediterranean Sea is the epicenter of constant, ongoing population movements, and was historically crucial to the development of global civilization.  Mare Nostrum, with its geography connecting a constellation of harbor-cities attached to their hinterlands, is a critical space of migration and trade. It is also a contested, brutally controlled region overburdened with past and present exploitation, colonization, and violence. Geographers, historians, and sociologists such as Fernand Braudel, Nicolas Purcell, Peregrine Horden, Henri Lefebvre, Ian Chambers, and Michael Herzfeld have analyzed it as such. In such a context, it appears logical to handle with equal importance points of departure and destinations, possibly to reverse established paradigms. Two harbor-cities of the Mediterranean Sea are our operative sites, from a shore to another: Tangier-Marseille. "


Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Program Director



An excursion related to studio research is conducted midway through the program’s first semester. On-site research for the studio project, visits to other relevant areas, and meetings with municipal and community organizations provide sufficient understanding of the context in which studio production will operate.


Sessions on Territory (former Urban Mutations on the Edge) – seminar and public lecture series


The SoT seminar is a series of weekly lectures by invited guests on topics in urban research and phenomena in territories that are beyond the traditional realm of architectural discourse. The objective here is a comprehensive understanding of urban research’s nature and capacities. Participants will leave the course with both an understanding of current urban research issues and the tools to conduct such research themselves.


Within the framework of this seminar, MAS participants are asked to produce two publication-quality essays related to their production within the studio. The production of the papers refines academic writing skills and familiarizes participants with research methods. In the past, the papers produced have been published both alongside the studio work and in independent architectural journals.




The MAS UD is a postgraduate program within the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich. The full facilities of the faculty—including dedicated studio space, model-making workrooms, digital fabrication labs, and printing facilities—are at the disposal of MAS program participants.





Prof. Dr. Marc Angélil



Charlotte Malterre-Barthes

Program Director


Elena Schütz

MAS Urban Design


Leonard Streich

MAS Urban Design


Julian Schubert

MAS Urban Design


Sascha Delz

Sessions on Territory Seminar




03: Admission requirements and application process


The MAS program is well suited to participants with a strong interest in design and emerging urban conditions. Admission is open to individuals who have earned a five-year professional degree (Arch ETH, master’s degree, or equivalent) in architecture or a related field from an accredited institution.


The application includes the submission of the application form, letter of intent, project portfolio (print-out only), letter of recommendation.


Candidates must provide evidence of their creativity and design talent by means of a project portfolio. The selection should include academic and professional design work edited to convey the personal outlook of the applicant. It should be bound into a format no larger than A3 size. Applicants are asked not to send digital portfolios or loose sheets. Portfolios should be sent directly to the chair. The chair will keep the portfolios of matriculating students. If you would like your portfolio returned to you, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope with the submission.



Address for portfolio submission:


Prof. Marc Angélil

c/o E. Schütz

MAS Urban Design

ETH Zürich Hönggerberg


8093 Zürich



Additional information and the application form can be found at the website of the Center for Continuing Education:


The deputy rector for further education and doctoral studies at the ETH Zürich will determine whether a candidate meets formal requirements and the directors of the MAS Urban Design will then determine admission to the program. For a complete list of what is required for admission, please refer to the website of the chair:


ETH Zurich

Centre for Continuing Education

HG E18.1

Rämistr. 101

8093 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 632 56 59



MAS Urban Design ETH

ETH Zurich Hönggerberg 

Institute for Urban Design 

Prof. Dr. Marc Angélil 


8093 Zurich 

Tel +41 44 633 38 22

Fax +41 44 633 11 83


if FEDEX please send to


Alejandra Fries

ETH Zurich Hönggerberg 

Institute for Urban Design 

Prof. Dr. Marc Angélil 




Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5

8093 Zürich Hönggerberg




04: Additional material


The examples shown, produced in previous years, are indicative of the content, production, and method
of the MAS UD studio.


Exhibit in the Bi-City Biennale of Architecture/Urbanism 2015-2016, Shenzhen (PRC)

ETH- Future Blog

Cairo Observer


Exhibit in the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 (Egyptian Pavilion), Venice (Italy)


A book is available containing the works produced during precedent studios focusing on Egypt:


HOUSING CAIRO: The Informal Response


A second publication is going to be published by the end of 2017


A book trilogy is available containing works produced during precedent studios focusing on Brazil:



Innovating Mass Housing for Social Change in Brazil



Working with informalized mass housing in Brazil.



The Proactive Urban Renewal of Informal Settlements 2011

Building Brazil! is a comprehensive publication of the studio design and research work conducted within the 2010–2011 MAS UD studio on informal areas in Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo. The book was edited by Marc Angélil and Rainer Hehl, in collaboration with Something Fantastic, and was released in October 2011 by Ruby Press.


Various works