Complex Projects

Complex Projects investigates settlements around the world that are ambiguous in their development and embedded in the process of globalisation. Students and teachers are encouraged to look critically at their surroundings; to gather, organise, and question the complex forces that ultimately manifest themselves into our built environment.

In Complex Projects we are interested in the study of different urban conditions; core or peripheral, dynamic or stagnant, traditional or without history, anonymous or famous; these are the contemporary postmodern realities we must confront as a profession.

Focus and Approach

The contemporary architect operates within many different scales and cultural context and consequently sees the world through many lenses: as a planner, organiser, politician, economist, philosopher, strategist, humanitarian, and sometimes visionary. The complexity of these parameters converges into a new definition of design which in turn enables students to virtually unpack any set of design constraints, cultivating a strong critical and analytical approach to the design process.

Jurgen Habermas once wrote, “In the process of an enlightenment there can only be participants". This concept is central to how teachers and students work together in asking critical questions approaching an increasingly complex world that demands increasingly Complex Projects.


In MSc 1 design studio we will dissect existing Landmarks via anatomy, exposing the basic elements that define a building or an ensemble. As an introduction to Complex Projects, the Landmark studio has the objective to make students familiar with the multiple aspects of research and design.

In MSc 2 design project we focus on Cities. We will expose the basic layers, which define the city: both the tangible and intangible will be separated and examined individually to understand each layer’s needs. After a forensic analysis of the layers, a portion of the framework will be extracted and developed in detail.

In MSc 3/4 Graduation studio all elements of the building and design will be seamlessly integrated into a clear compelling project that deals with all issues such as analysis, problem definition, urban design, building in context, building concept, materialisation, to critical detail; all of which based on a clear narrative that contributes to increase the relevance and criticality of the project.

Programme spring semester 2019 (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
MSc 2*
MSc 3

* The MSc2 semester of the Architecture track consists of 9 credits of compulsory courses and 21 credits of electives, of which at least 12 credits for an approved MSc 2 Architecture design project. See also the MSc 2 design projects page for information about the MSc 2 projects including examples of student work.

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Manuela Triggianese