The Timeless Way of Educating Architects: A New Master in “Building Beauty” | Naples, Italy

For the Academic year 2017/18, the University “Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples (UniSOB), in partnership with Maggie Moore Alexander, members of the Center for Environmental Structure of Berkeley (USA) and the International Society of Biourbanism (ISB) will launch a postgraduate programme in “Building Beauty. Ecologic Design and Construction Process”. The program is international and radically innovative in terms of both content and teaching model.

Building on Christopher Alexander’s principles as expressed in “The Nature of Order”, the new program brings into the domain of architectural education various experiences that have not, historically, been considered part of it: in particular, students build for real with their own hands throughout the program, cultivate the land, and explore their individual and collective self; they are constantly immersed in an uninterrupted flow of real construction activities, which will constitute the heart and the environment for all other learning experiences in the program. The continuous contact with the exceptional beauty of the university venue, a 17th century monastic complex situated in a panoramic position in the heart of the city of Naples, is of paramount importance and acts as a primary learning tool in the proposed curriculum. The ambition of the program is to contribute tackling the challenges of the age of urbanisation by proposing a radical change in architectural education and practice, based on “21st century skills”.

The University’s historical home, a magnificent 17th century monastery sitting on a hill in the heart of Naples’ “Spanish Quarter” and overlooking the Gulf and the Vesuvio volcano.


The course will start in Naples in October 2017. It is a one-year, intensive, residential program, taught in English and delivered within the UniSOB University’s historical home, a magnificent XVII century monastery sitting on a hill in the heart of Naples’ “Spanish Quarter” and overlooking the Gulf and the Vesuvio volcano. The course is a post-graduate specialist program and offers 60 credits (or European Credits Transfer System, ECTS) to students holding a “Laurea” (Bachelor) or equivalent qualification.

It’s goal is a different holistic and scientific approach to architectural education. One that poses the ordinary environment at centre stage and focuses on the adaptive process of building and change, and the role of design in it. One where life is respected and enhanced in all its forms and “beauty” becomes a tangible objective of social and ecologic pursuit, as well as a matter of serious scientific investigation.