See the designs you dreamed of and the styles you studied come to life by taking your architecture education abroad. From flying buttresses to sleek, modern art, the world is full of creative, ingenious, and intriguing construction, and studying architecture abroad gives you a first-hand opportunity to see it all!
Studying architecture abroad provides two unique opportunities that domestic education does not. While the saying “They don’t build them like they used to” may be trite, it is practically true. Architecture has changed, and seeing historical styles from around the world will give you a competitive advantage in the field as well as inspiration. Additionally, in the same way form fits function, construction style often fits with culture. Seeing how different cultures value different styles—from aesthetics to safety to functionality—will give you a deeper understanding of the architecture field, beyond what you grew up with at home.
When choosing a location, it is important to first decide what focus you want to explore while abroad. Studying architecture abroad will allow you to see very old, historic examples, as well as very modern and unique examples of architectural techniques and styles. Unfortunately, these two categories rarely overlap, so you will need to decide what you want to focus on in order to decide where to study architecture abroad.
An obvious location for architecture students focusing on historic design is Rome, Italy. With some of the best preserved ruins of the modern world, architecture programs in Rome are teeming with inspiration and opportunities to dive into the field. A second incredible site would be Barcelona, Spain, where courses often focus on or tour the legendary works of Antoni Gaudi.
If modern form is more your style, then potential study abroad locations are more diverse and spread out. The United Arab Emirates has turned the heads of numerous architecture experts in recent years, and the architecture programs available to students here are numerous.
Australia—specifically cities like Perth, Sydney, or Canberra—have also sprung international attention in recent years, for rapid and modern urban growth. As an English speaking country, Australia makes studying architecture abroad easy; architecture programs in Australia are offered for every level and degree type.
While a blend of historic and modern is difficult to find, it is not impossible. Chile also offers a plethora of architecture programs, many of which examine how traditional Chilean style has grown into the modern architectural field that dominates cities like Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Japan also has opportunities to explore both the traditional Eastern styles, as well as earthquake-proof developments of the last 30 years through architectural study abroad programs.
Architecture majors are generally able to take a number of electives while studying abroad. These courses may be architecture specific, or in other fields closely related to the subject. For example, history and culture classes are easy to find anywhere and often draw close parallels to the architectural style of the country.
A few themes emerge in architecture electives around the world. Most architecture study abroad programs tend to focus more on the connection between history and architecture—for example, the legacy of a certain architect or how a local civilization gave rise to a modern style. Cultural connections can also be made between religion and architecture. Catholic style churches can be studied across Europe and Latin America, while Islamic and Moorish styles can be found through southern Europe and the Middle East. There is also a strong focus on sustainability in architecture around the world, specifically in Europe and Australia.
If you are looking for larger or more complete degree programs—in order to focus on either core classes or capstone requirements, the Middle East has some of the best options for architecture study abroad students. The United Arab Emirates offers several full curriculums with both basic and advanced classes for international students.
Architecture is a unique field that combines practicality with the art world. Notions relevant to both of these fields—both what is realistic and what is beautiful—differ widely around the globe. Experiencing different perspectives will make you more competitive in the work force, especially as architectural firms become increasingly multinational, and introduce you to alternative approaches to design.
There are even international career opportunities to use your degree in city planning, disaster relief, or to support travel and tourism—all of which will require the cultural experience you can obtain by studying architecture abroad.