Architecture and Public Building

Public Building investigates the future of public buildings, the public realm and the role of the public in the built environment. Designing for the public means creating meaningful and culturally valuable buildings and civic spaces for communities as well as individuals. Public Building researches and designs buildings with public programs and spaces that enhance the quality of life and act as catalysts for the development of their environment.

Sesc 24 de Maio / arch. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, MMBB Arquitetos / photo © Nelson Kon

In an era in which the mono-functional public building is disappearing, this means that Public Building not only focuses on public functions and programs, but also on their combinations and interactions with semi-public, commercial and private domains. Public Building investigates how different kind of contexts, sites, and conditions influence design for culture, health, education, work and leisure. In the Public Building projects, students also study the change of building properties as a consequence of the responsibilities that designers have for the construction of a future-proof environment. How can we achieve excellent design quality when building regulations and building processes are becoming ever-more determined by ethical, technical, and legal specifications and regulations? Public Building projects contribute to the development of inspiring solutions that strengthen the aspect of the public in contemporary building and urban design.

Focus and Approach

Whether in metropolitan, urban, or rural conditions, public functions are always in demand. The interaction between scales and solutions is crucial. Finding the proper condition of the public is part of the research. Public building can be a building, an interior, or a part of a hybrid structure, a hybrid structure within a city, a series of prototypes, a layer in a landscape, and more. Developing contemporary public buildings and public realms requires the development of new types of buildings and building elements, re-inventing past structures, and questioning existing typologies through research and design as well as research by design. 

Public Building investigates multiplicity as a property of buildings and building elements. Multiplicity in Architecture aims to give buildings and building elements properties that make them less singular in function, more productive, more transformative, and more resilient.


Both the MSc1 and MSc2 studios focus on Europe’s capital cities. The MSc1 studio investigates exceptional urban and cultural transformations and focuses on the mutual relationship between urban densification, the public building and the public realm, whereas the more experimental MSc2 studio focuses above all on architecture in the city at hand, and more specific, on the hybrid architectural project as a very important interface between the field of architecture and urban design. In both studios, students get assigned to a specific site and are expected to research social, historical and physical context. 

Programme MSc 1 fall semester 2022 (pdf)

Programme MSc 2 spring semester 2022 (pdf)

Programme MSc 2 studio High-Rise Culture spring semester 2022 (pdf)
The MSc 2 studio High-Rise Culture is offered by Architecture and Public Building, Architecture and Dwelling and Form Studies.

In the MSc 3/4 graduation studio, architectural designs will be made for culture, health, education, work and leisure influenced by contemporary contexts, sites and conditions. Each year, the studio focuses on a specific, and for the above representative, topic or combination of topics, and will be located in a metropolitan north-western European context. The leading topics will blend into a complex public building that enhances the quality of life and acts as a catalyst for the development of its environment. Other components of the curriculum are seminars geared towards research and analysis.

Programme MSc 3 fall semester 2022 (pdf)

Additional information

Additional information about the projects and student work can be found here.

For detailed course descriptions, please visit the study guide:
MSc 1 (only in fall semester)
MSc 2* (only in spring semester)
MSc 3 (only in fall semester)

* The MSc 2 semester of the Architecture track consists of 5 credits of compulsory courses and 25 credits of electives, of which an approved MSc 2 Architecture design project. See also the MSc 2 design projects page for an overview of MSc 2 Architecture design projects. 


Ir. Paul Kuitenbrouwer

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