Marie felt that her programme aims to address global issues through local interventions
Marie studied the master's programme in Architecture at KTH between 2018 and 2020. She comes from France but also studied in London before moving to Stockholm.
What made you choose Sweden?
After graduating from Central Saint Martins in London, I aspired to continue my international journey, and moving to a new country was an exciting new step. Moving abroad has comforted me in my decision of turning my education, and my professional future, towards internationalisation. I believe that architecture students should be prepared to work in today's global workplace. Exploring a new country was an enriching experience that allowed me to discover new cultures in an inclusive learning environment. In that regard, I quickly directed myself towards Scandinavia, where the studies are easily accessible for European students due to the significant number of affordable international degrees given in English.
What made you choose KTH?
KTH, being a technical university, is a hub for scientific innovation. It seemed to be the perfect place to experiment with modern tools and new computerised and robotic techniques. I believe that the architecture profession is naturally shifting towards a more technology-driven approach. Architects are at the heart of an interdisciplinary complex between art, science, politics, sociology, etc. I am also a strong believer that architects' first priority should be the habitants, whether humans or non-humans, that they are designing for. Therefore I believe that architects should use the technological tools that our contemporary era provides to achieve their mission, which should be to improve the lives of the communities they are designing for. KTH seemed like a great platform to embrace this aspect of the profession.
Why do you want to be an architect?
My choice of pursuing a career in the built environment comes from my yearning to be among those who form the changing landscapes of the world. I believe it is architects who are most able to design the way people live. They manage to influence and thus improve the lives of others. Architects can build the world they aspire to live in. I am interested in developing new construction methods and new materials that respond to the ecological issues of our contemporary societies. The desire to leave a fair and sustainable world to future generations is one of the main reasons I want to pursue spatial design as a profession.
What made you choose the master's programme in Architecture at KTH?
When making my decision of which master's programme to choose, I really appreciated the support and guidance offered by KTH to the newly admitted students. You have the opportunity to talk one on one with a current KTH student and enquire about anything you want, such as life in Stockholm or the different courses or the working environment at KTH. In addition to that, the administration organises webinars providing you with a lot of information regarding the enrolment process, the university, and the logistics of moving to Sweden. The assistance provided to newly admitted students is really helpful before finalising your choice of programme. It makes you feel included at KTH right from the start.
What do you like most about KTH?
The great facilities and the central position of the main campus to the city are to be noted. The recent building dedicated to studies of the built environment welcomes students not only in the architecture programme, but also lighting design and urban planning. It includes workshops, numerous computers and printers, and an open-plan working space with great views of the city in which each student gets their own desk. Moreover, I find that the core values of the school are of great significance. Indeed I particularly appreciate the importance given to gender equality and diversity at KTH, which is visible not only on the administrative level, but is also reflected in the courses and lectures offered to the students.
What are your impressions of Stockholm and Sweden?
What characterises Stockholm, in my opinion, is its high quality of life as well as its calm and peaceful atmosphere. It is a very comfortable and safe city to live in. I would describe it as dynamic during the summer with many food and music festivals, outdoor activities, pop-up cafés, and restaurants and as very cozy during the winter when candles, blankets, and hot chocolates become essentials. I also really like the closeness to nature all year long with great outdoor sports such as kayaking, hiking, or even ice hockey in the colder months. It is also very easy to move around in the city thanks to an excellent public transport system that connects the city centre to the peripheries. The national trains are also affordable and easily accessible, and they are great for day trips to visit the rest of the country. The only drawback I found about Stockholm would be the difficulty of finding affordable accommodation. Flats are very tricky to find, especially as a student on a limited budget.
Are there any differences between studying at KTH and your home university?
From my experience, architecture studies here are quite different from the French system in terms of organisation and the courses that are offered to the students. In France, there are many different subjects within the programme; for example, in addition to the studio project students will also have classes in history, economics, philosophy, etc. In Sweden, and at KTH in particular, the university system is closer to the one in the UK where your main course, the studio design, integrates the different facets of the education, which allows for the development of projects that are enriched by this multi-level approach. I have also noticed that in the master's programmes a greater emphasis was put on theory and philosophical concepts, and always in a feminist mind-frame. Moreover, I would also note that a good work/life balance and a healthy studio culture is maintained at KTH. The workload is well distributed so that it's still possible to work part-time during your studies.
What do you see as the most significant aspects of your programme?
The architecture programme at KTH promotes a site-specific design that is deeply connected to its natural environment and social context, and that aims to address global issues through local interventions. I feel like the programme is allowing me to develop an innovative approach of architecture, one that seeks collaboration between technology, art, and people. It has also encouraged me to question the role of the designer and the future of the profession as well as develop a critical perspective on the design of our human environment. I get to explore new ways of shifting our relationship with the spaces we inhabit. The course provides me with a greater understanding of how design decisions have cultural meaning and can enrich human experience and the nurturing of our environment.
Are you taking part in any student activities?
I took part in the welcoming activities organised by the student union, THS, to meet the new international students. This allowed me to meet people not only from architecture studies but also from all the different courses. Being able to befriend people from outside of my degree that I wouldn't normally get to cross paths with led to some great friendships and interesting collaborations. The student union continues to organise events, seminars, and of course, parties during the year.
What is your best memory from your time at KTH so far?
I would say that the official reception at the City Hall before the start of the semester in August was quite impressive. It makes you appreciate KTH for the established institution that it is, filled with many intelligent and talented people whether students, researchers, or staff. Similarly, the royal fireworks and concert organised at the beginning of the year in the royal courtyard of KTH is a festive welcome to the university.
Do you have a dream job after graduating from KTH?
After finishing my studies at KTH, my aim is to move yet again and explore another country. I don't feel ready to go back to my home country just yet as I am still eager to discover what the architectural world is like abroad. I would like to work in a multi-disciplinary practice that touches on the different aspects of spatial design in a creative and collaborative environment.
What would you like to say to students thinking of choosing KTH for their master's studies?
The master's programme in Architecture at KTH will provide you with an inclusive and enriching working environment, allowing you to explore a range of design problems and to confront the challenges of the contemporary built environment. There is a wide range of studios that you can choose from, each with different briefs and different approaches, so you'll be sure to find something that really interests you. Moreover, the tutors encourage each student to develop their own design attitude and will support and guide your choices. And finally, don't be afraid of the Swedish winter, you'll always have warm cups of coffee and sweet kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) to lift your spirits!