Declaration of Viseu, 8 May 2004

Architectural education in the 21st century


We believe that it is the primary task of architects and urbanists to improve quality of life by creating an enduring legacy of beautiful, functional, equitable and healthy environments.   To that end, we must prepare students to engage the complex challenges of the 21st century, and to:

  • Consolidate and regenerate existing cultural and natural resources;
  • Identify the knowledge and skills that constitute the diverse heritage of humanity;
  • Build enduring and sustainable cities, towns, villages and countryside, contributing to continuity and coherence of place;
  • Facilitate civic engagement, social diversity and economic vitality while protecting local identity and ecosystems;
  • Assess and learn from past successes, failures and unintended consequences.

We reject the fragmentation of specialised education in architecture and urbanism, and we support a more integrated approach that includes:

  • The need for leadership by educated generalists as well as trained specialists, in recognition of the inseparable link between architecture and urbanism;
  • An ecological understanding of the built and natural environments, with attention to the full range from small- to large-scale patterns;
  • An explicit incorporation of processes, including collaborations with other disciplines and with citizens;
  • An open discourse between theory and practice;
  • The cultivation of practices and habits of life-long learning.

Section I: Goals

We agree that our architectural education will:

  • Engage the larger context of human aspirations and needs, and the rich
    knowledge of other disciplines;
  • Teach and learn from history and experience;
  • Learn to engage and harness the means of production, from craft to mass production;
  • Build and share a body of professional knowledge and data;
  • Recognise the unique role of urbanists and architects as form-givers: not as individual artists acting in isolation, but as professionals engaged with citizens in creating forms that satisfy human aspirations and needs.

Section II: Methods

We therefore agree that architectural education should:

  • Create regular opportunities for engagement with other professions, disciplines, organisations and individuals; and gather knowledge and educational resources through conferences, charrettes, publications, and collaborative research;
  • Include case studies, apprenticeship and practical work, and the study of historical precedent;
  • Facilitate scholarly exchange, research, demonstration projects and experimental investigations;
  • Gather and distribute a coherent body of curricular materials, definitive texts, protocols, model codes and on-line resources;
  • Encourage the generation of form in rigorous design processes that include research, analysis, drawing, modelling and computer simulations.

Section III: Curriculum

We agree to develop architectural education in a supportive environment with a rich studio culture, and grounded in these subject areas:

  • Arts and Sciences: humanities, natural and social sciences;
  • History and Theory: world architectural and urban history, precedents, principles, processes, travel and field studies;
  • Technology: engineering, construction, materials and building crafts;
  • Skills: analysis, research, feasibility, construction management, drawing and sketching, writing and rhetoric, collaboration, digital and physical modelling;
  • Design: composition, proportion, scale, buildings, interiors, details, urban form.

Section IV: Implementation

We will establish a global network to implement these educational objectives by:

  • Gathering existing curricular models, practices and materials;
  • Identifying new models, practices and materials;
  • Developing means of distribution, through journals, the Internet and conferences, both within architecture and with other disciplines;
  • Fostering collaboration within architecture and with other disciplines, through joint research, student and faculty exchange, lectures and symposia, and travel programmes;
  • Promoting interdisciplinary understanding, conviviality and international goodwill.

Signed this 8th day of May, 2004

Click here for a full report on of the Viseu conference by C.E.U. Chair Susan Parham.