What is the perfect time to go for pursuing a master’s degree in architecture after one completes BArch? Some say right after Bachelor, some say after few years of professional experience, for example within or just after two years of acquiring BArch degree. But it gets difficult if it crosses three or more years in professional field and the main reason for that is the inherent character of the subject “Architecture” as an applied profession. After few years of turmoil to make a mark in the field as a potential professional architect, sacrificing money over the eagerness of learning as an apprentice in firms with fairly shameful remuneration, acting indifferent to the silent expectation of family members to become a contributing bread earner after 5 years of study (in many cases more than that due to session jam), finding a glimmer of hope in few possible clients who may turn steady enough for the future of a newborn office, even the dilemma of the practical use of a higher degree in pragmatic professional field unless one decides to go for an academic career,- there are lots to consider if one thinks to travel abroad for a Master’s degree. That was the exact case when we (four classmates in BUET) were thinking of pursuing one- it was a question of affordability of all sorts. So the lure for masters was more than a foreign degree, rather a stubborn adventure and frankly a bit emotional. Dessau Institute of Architecture (DIA) had more to offer than a mere degree when we set our foot in Germany.
First of all, it was not a solitary decision to go to Germany for studying as four of our friends from BUET decided to stick [ in 2004] with each other wherever we go for studying; it was like encouraging each other to ignore whatever hindrances we faced individually. And also it is not undeniable that moving together will have added advantage of sharing expenses or trauma of an unfamiliar territory and is more fun. On top of that, education cost in Germany is very low comparing to other European countries. Secondly and most significantly, there was a huge temptation of the famous Bauhaus with whom DIA shares infrastructure, studios and faculties. Though Bauhaus didn’t have any Masters equivalent degree courses, the next best thing was the then newly formed Dessau Institute of Architecture just on the next building under the supervision of Hochschule Anhalt, the state university of applied science in Saxony-Anhalt region. Nonetheless it was still a long shot to decide as none we know had the information about the school of thought or academic strength of DIA.
We learned about some names among the faculty like Alfred Jacoby as Head (who happened to be a key figure of DAAD scholarship) or Neil Leach as poster boy celebrity academician, but the name made no impact in that time as BArch education in BUET put almost zero focus on architectural theory and criticism. Everything changed after reaching Dessau. DIA proved to be sovereign from Bauhaus that gave it the vitality to push further away from the ghost of Modernism which Bauhaus once pioneered and still struggling to put the nametag behind from their current academic exercises. The occasional collaboration between the two institutes became moments of joy as flurry of rich ideas flew, celebrities from architectural fields shone, energetic young students exchanged ideas. Standing on the literal shadows of the Gropius Building, DIA was on the mission of creating their own myth even though the Master’s program was rather new when we started our education there. In our two years study in Dessau we could sense the energy DIA was putting in questioning the current process of architectural design that placed them among the pioneers of a new paradigm of contemporary digital architecture and we are inherently proud to be a part of it. The strength of DIA lies in two main sectors: one, extensive focus on theoretical basis of architectural criticism- using the cultural and critical theories as tools for analyzing architecture; and two, using the complexity theories in practical application through the process of optimization, parametricism and bio-mimicry. Prof. Neil Leach played a vital role in both and also acted as the main catalyst to make DIA a welcoming platform for many experimental and rebellious minds to come and share with students their expertly cooked or half cooked ideas. And that was surely electric if one is up for it.
Ashik Vaskor Mannan, DIA graduate, 2006 | Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB) | Architect Partner, Studio XI Architects
Masrur Mamun Mithun, DIA graduate, 2006 | Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Asia Pacific (UAP)
DIA: AT A GLANCE
Name of the school: Dessau International Architecture (DIA), Anhalt university of Applied Science.
Location and country: Dessau, Germany
Degree offered: MA in Architecture
Program duration: 4 semesters (2 semesters / year, Summer and Winter) ; 4 studios (3rd+4th semester studio- thesis)
Studio offered: Architecture, Urban, Computational Design ;
Duration: 2 semesters/years (1 semester Research and 1 semester Design)
Special: compulsory German Language Course (non Credit)
Student job opportunity: Teaching assistant, Driving, print shop
Official Website DIA |Groups or community in social media |Admission requirement