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 emerging territories within today’s rapidly-urbanizing 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’s 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—at a speed seemingly beyond the control of planning—the pace of urbanization has rendered nearly impossible the formal absorption of populations. Despite all efforts to provide low-cost housing through formal markets, some third of the world’s total urban population lives in inadequate conditions. In this vacuum, self-organization and autoconstruction have proven efficient coping strategies for low-income households. The MAS program focuses on these areas as a dominant way of making the city today, redefining the role of the design professional while seeking new territories for design to engage.
The MAS program seeks design professionals interested in the investigation and development of tools for use in regions largely beyond the control of planning. 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 excursion costs)
Application: Jan. 1–April 30, yearly (late applications are accepted on a case-by-case basis)
02: Design and Research Laboratory
After 2 cycles of investigation in Ethiopia and Brazil – this year program is focusing on another exemplary context for the design and research of urbanization in developping territories: Cairo, Egypt.
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.
Design and research
The studio that forms the main component of the course, divided into two semesters, 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.
Within this framework, the MAS program is exploring the three themes of Resistance/Relevance/Resilience and conducts a reflection towards a defiant repositioning of the discipline of architecture and a radical interpretation of what is urban design.
Resistance: The MAS program is investigating the operational tools and design strategies available to the profession of architecture at the scale of the built environment and urban territory, and the current maneuvering room for resistance within the discipline.
Relevance: With the idea to re-radicalize the design field, the program’s goal is in to generate urban design tactics that should reposition architecture as a relevant and central method to making the city.
Resilience: Addressing the challenges of the profession faced by forces of urbanization, resilience is a theme to be explored not as the over worn concept of sustainability but as a framework for an ethical, social, political practice of architecture and urban design.
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.
Urban Mutations on the Edge – seminar and public lecture series
The UME 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 Departement 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
Director of Studies, MAS Urban Design
MAS Urban Design
MAS Urban Design
MAS Urban Design
Urban Mutations on the Edge 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 C. Malterre-Barthes
MAS Urban Design
ETH Zürich Hönggerberg
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: http://angelil.arch.ethz.ch/
Centre for Continuing Education
Tel. +41 44 632 56 59
MAS Urban Design ETH
ETH Zurich Hönggerberg
Institute for Urban Design
Prof. Dr. Marc Angélil
Tel +41 44 633 38 22
Fax +41 44 633 11 83
04: Additional material
The examples shown, produced during the 2010–2011 program year, are indicative of the content, production, and method of the MAS UD studio.
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.
The concept of urban mining was developed during the 2010–2011 studio production with input from the municipality of São Paolo. In 2011, it was featured in the exhibition “Design for the Other 90%” organized by the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in New York.
A book trilogy is available, containing works produced during precedent studios:
Minha Casa – Nossa Cidade
Innovating Mass Housing for Social Change in Brazil
Cidade De Deus! City Of God!
Working with informalized mass housing in Brazil.
The Proactive Urban Renewal of Informal Settlements 2011
NSL - Netzwerk Stad und Landschaft