100 OF EUROPE’S 700 SCHOOLS | Spartaco Paris *

We are proud to present the fifth annual edition of Europe’s Top 100 Schools of Architecture and Design. During the past five years, this supplement to Domus magazine has become an increasingly respected resource, confirmed by the fact that the schools we select refer to our listing in their communication portals. Other schools apply for inclusion in the guide by sending us their curriculum profiles. Since the beginning of his term, Domus’s editor-in-chief Nicola Di Battista has given special attention to the subject of education in the fields of architecture and design, seen as a key by which to promote an expansion of their significance and to push for the inclusion of their disciplinary role in the society of our times.


We continue to be convinced of our cultural choice to offer a selection and not a ranking, for it allows us to review a larger number of schools time after time. We have chosen to override the limits of a ranking in which it would be objectively more difficult for young institutions or schools in emerging countries to acquire a position of visibility from day one. Even so, our annual selection features the continued presence of several schools based on their authority, one criterion that has guided us since the first edition. To select 100 from the 350 architecture institutes and at least as many in the design field inevitably implies the exclusion of worthy schools.

About 400 schools and universities for art and design have been censused in Europe, of which over 170 are members of the Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media.


As in the past editions of Europe’s Top 100 Schools of Architecture and Design, the standards we have adopted for this year’s selection are guided by precise factors. On one hand, we relied upon reputable evaluation agencies such as QS Quacquarelli Symonds. On the other hand, we applied prevalently subjective criteria shared with recognised interlocutors in the field of education. In our opinion, school ranking agencies tend to offer a generalised selection of universities and institutes, often adopting parameters better suited to the hard sciences centred predominantly on research, but efficient to describe the didactic quality of architecture and design schools. Our guide’s title mentions schools instead of universities in order to underline our aim of orienting the educational decisions of new students by offering an overview of quality curricula and the potential profession-based results.

The guidelines we have followed can be summed up in seven points:

  1. The constitution of a network of accredited references in architecture and design education representing homogeneous geographical areas.

This group allows us to validate our selection and reflects the differences as well as established virtuous aspects of high-quality schools that might be better or lesser known.

  1. The examination of the broadest possible geographical spectrum in Europe.
  2. The giving of preference to institutions with a reputation recognised by the community of architects and designers.

This evaluation clearly tendsto favour traditional schools over newer ones.

Although it is constantly being updated, education in Europe is founded on consolidated knowledge and institutions where the educational heritage is in many cases not easily grasped by bibliometric or digital parameters. The presence of large libraries and laboratories equipped with the most advanced technological equipment constitutes a qualifying factor.

  1. In the design field, schools belonging to accredited educational associations and networks (for example Cumulus) are favourably considered.
  2. Consideration of the relationship with and use of new technology and equipment.
  3. Consideration of a school’s ability to forge and consolidate international relationships with other institutions and offer internships for professional training.
  4. Consideration by means of a non-systematic assessment of the educational and professional results obtained by students with degrees or diplomas from a certain school after a determined period from graduation, with due attention for the specific differences between European schools.

Postgraduate courses are also featured in our list, for it is increasingly possible to differentiate terms and phases of training in different cities and institutions. Architectural training in Europe is undergoing a profound revision of the duration and organisation of education (see the European directive 2013/55/EU), which is moving toward a lengthening beyond the 3 + 2 year system by introducing a period of internship. We have always favoured long and well-structured educational models by listing institutions chosen for their first-level educational offer (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree), second-level offer (master’s degree or specialisation) or both. This year, we took a careful look at schools in the Balkan countries and around the Mediterranean for their strategic importance in Europe’s future. In this regard, it must be emphasised how different the training in architecture is from that in design. One distinguishing traits of architecture schools is that they are often public institutions, for the very reason that they train students to become professionals with significant civic and penal qualifications and responsibilities. With design schools, there is a continuous worldwide expansion underway. This projects design both material and immaterial as a mass profession. New educational centres for design are gradually being established in and outside the perimeters of Europe. In addition, training as a designer is not oriented toward defining professional figures linked to specific “guilds”, titles or registrations in traditional professional orders or associations. This provokes competition between public and private institutions, and leads to the coexistence of vocational schools and universities.

As for Italy, the country is in a phase of stagnation if not reduction of the number of enrolments in architecture schools, and in a steady phase of growth in the number of newly enrolled design freshmen. Two new design schools opened here in 2016. This is not the occasion to analyse the multiple and diverse causes of this trend, but we acknowledge its existence. We hope our selection continues to be seen as an annual open resource on education in architecture and design in Europe, a tool to be used alongside the constant editorial contributions on this subject found in every Domus issue.




*Published  EUROPE’S TOP 100 SCHOOLS OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN 2017 | Supplement Domus 1008, December 2016



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