Programme details
Study load30 EC
PeriodSeptember - January
TeacherMarlies Boterman

An architect needs imagination. Imagination to design spaces, to find suitable materials and to ensure a building functions properly. He or she must also be sensitive to what the user will experience in the building: how do you stimulate the senses and encourage encounters?

During the minor in Architecture of the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, we will challenge you to broaden your imagination, with creative courses and inspiring lecturers who will teach you to work on the basis of your imagination and intuition. You can register if you are doing a degree programme with an applied emphasis (hbo-opleiding) in Architecture.

Why this minor?
You will learn to seek out the unknown, work on the basis of your intuition and happy accidents.
You will be introduced to historical and contemporary ideas about architecture.
You will be inspired by fascinating lecturers, lectures and excursions.
You will increase your insight into the profession of the architect.
You will practise useful research and presentation techniques, such as photography and drawing.
You will learn through practical challenges: you will design and experiment a lot yourself, for example with scale models.
As a result of all these experiences, your curiosity will be nourished and you will form your own vision.

Three guiding principles
Imagination has three guiding principles: inspiration, designing by experimenting a lot yourself and clear communication. 

1. Inspiration
During this minor, we will challenge you to further develop your imagination. As an architect, you are the director of the experience and the corresponding imagination. During this minor, you will be given the freedom to discover what fascinates and inspires you, how your imagination comes to life, and how you can transform and translate it into a building. Research, analysis, ideation, production and presentation will flow into one another in a design process, the aim of which is: to create architecture. You will work yourself on various design assignments and exercises within those design assignments. Lectures from inspiring architects and artists, and excursions to architectural firms and projects will support the exercises which you are occupied with in that week. 

2. Designing by experimenting a lot yourself
We will challenge you with short assignments that stimulate creative and intuitive design, and in which your hands and the tool will play an important role. The discoveries that you will make in this way can yield a great deal. The product (models or drawings) are not fixed in advance. By continually starting from a different point of departure, for example a material, image, artwork or story, your imagination will be stimulated. The design skills that you will gain in the first period of the minor will come in handy during the larger design assignment in the second part of the minor.  

3. Clear communication
In addition to inspiration and a design, you need communication skills in order to talk about your ideas and make them visible. You may have a beautiful idea, but if you are not able to communicate this, it will  be difficult to make other people enthusiastic. During this minor, you will learn how to make scale models, drawings, photos, collages and booklets in order to convey your ideas.

By communicating, discussing and presenting your work, you will reflect on your work and you will learn to continue honing this further. Which manner of communication works best to present your plan convincingly? 

Practical teaching method
At the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, we believe in ‘learning from experiences’ and ‘applying theory in practice’. Our way of teaching is adapted to this. The combination of studying and concrete practise is an essential part of the course.

During the minor, you will work on five learning objectives:

1. Knowledge of architecture, analysis, form study, history, and the field and the professional practice of architects.
2. Knowledge of architectural programmes, functional systems, sustainability, typologies and the field and the professional practice of architects.
3. Research and design skills in terms of cultural, programmatic and technical aspects.
4. Research and design skills in terms of planning, details and materialisation.
5. Skills in terms of conceptual and academic thinking, as well as debating, communication and presentation techniques.

Which prior education do you need for the minor in Architecture?

You can register via Kies op Maat if:

You are in the process of doing a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture at a university of applied sciences (hbo-bachelor Bouwkunde) or similar degree programme.

The content of the minor in Architecture overlaps partly with that of the Building Technique course. It is therefore not recommended to do both.

In order to be admitted to the minor in Architecture, you must send us your signed learning agreement, motivation letter and ‘start portfolio’. Based on this, we will assess whether you are suited to the minor.

Motivation letter
In your motivation letter, you will clearly indicate why you want to do the minor in Architecture.

Start portfolio
Your start portfolio is a challenging assignment. You will make a succinctly designed document in which you demonstrate what your ideas are about architecture. 

You will describe your ideal residential space:

What criteria does this ideal residential space have to satisfy for you?

What is the relationship with the surroundings?

Which materials is the space made up of?

Use all the resources that you need. Words, images, drawings, film or music. Anything goes! It is important that we see your personal signature. Therefore, opt for a combination in which you can, in any case, demonstrate drawings or sketches.

For the minor in Architecture, you must register via Kies op Maat.

Registration is only possible if your current study programme:

is affiliated with Kies op Maat,
wants to enter into a learning agreement with our Academy.

Deadline for registration
We offer the minor in Architecture once per year in the first semester: from September up to and including January. You can register up until 1 May at the latest.

What will your timetable look like?

The minor begins in September and ends in January. You will follow the lessons on weekdays during the day and occasionally in the evenings.  Your basic weekly timetable is shown below. We will occasionally deviate from this timetable.

09:30-12:30 and 13:30-16:30: architectural tools

09:30-12:30 and 13:30-16:30: building analysis

13:30-16:30: photography exercise

09:30-12:30 and 13:30-16:30: architectural tools

09:30-12:30 and 13:30-16:30: lectures, architects and building

(Amendments subject to approval)

Which courses and programme components will you do? 

The course and programme components tie in with the three guiding principles of the minor: inspiration, designing by experimenting a lot yourself and clear communication. 


1. Lectures
During a series of six lectures, various speakers will talk about their inspiration, work and method. The subjects in this lecture series will tie in with the exercises that you receive during ‘architectural tools’. 

2. Excursions
During the minor, you will go on excursions to various buildings in Amsterdam. You will visit each building together with the architect, a user, a resident and someone else who is closely connected with the project and can talk about it enthusiastically. The excursions will tie in with the theme of the design assignment which you will be working on simultaneously.

3. The architect and the building
In a series of four afternoons, we will examine the question: how does an architect work from idea to building? We will always start at the firm of an architect. He or she will explain a project there on the basis of drawings, scale models and stories. In the following week, we will visit this project together with the architect. It will sometimes be a completed project, while sometimes it will still be under construction. You will learn how architects translate an idea or fascination into a design. Which method do they use in order to translate a concept into solutions? 

4. Architectural history and theory
In this series of lectures, you will be introduced to important subjects from architectural history and architectural theory.

5. The hidden world
What do vegetation, soil structure and materials in a landscape say about the history of the place and what value does this have? If you look more closely at your surroundings, you will discover a hidden world of unexpected patterns and unique stories. This is precisely what Atelier NL does: zooming in on specific qualities and elements that make the everyday and rich hidden complexity of a place visible. Each student will collect and organise materials in a unique manner.


6. Architectural tools
On the basis of architectural examples, you will examine, through ‘watching and doing’ exercises, which architectural and structural means you can use to achieve a specific architectural quality In this way, you will learn to use your architectural knowledge in a focused way in your design. You will set to work with your knowledge in a series of thematic mini-assignments. These assignments and the themes will be closely connected with the design assignment that follows hereafter.

7. Project: design assignment
The design assignment will take place in a green zone of the city of Amsterdam. You will make a design for a live/work home for a specific client. To what extent do the materials in the immediate surroundings and the profession of the client influence the design of the live/work home. You will work on the design on various scale levels and communicate a lot with models.

8. Exercise: building analysis

During this exercise, you will learn about a series of representative buildings through analysis, visits and evaluation. Objectives of the exercise:
- expand your architectural ‘library’;
- learn to look and analyse properly;
- recognise the ideas behind a design and the link with physical building.

9. Form study: material and design
The aim of the form study is to gain knowledge and insight into the relationship between the process of creating and the design. You will learn to think from the perspective of the material and to formulate design criteria on this basis. You will learn to relate found principles to the practice of architecture and building, and to critically reflect on self-made objects. Your way of working and thinking will also be addressed: how do you find the balance between rules and freedom? The form study consists of three workshops lasting two days each week. During the workshops, you will work with various (recycled) materials.

10 Freehand drawing
The pen makes it possible to visualise the handiwork of the architect During these lessons, you will be given practical explanations about how you can lay out a drawing using different materials and techniques. Each course day will have its own theme. You will go outside, for example, in order to look at facades. A heavy and close building gives a completely different atmosphere to a street than an open and light building. How is that atmosphere determined? What role does material, dimension and design play herein? How do you transfer this to paper? Later in the programme, the freehand drawing lesson will dovetail with the design assignment.

11. Form study: making a scale model
Idea and action, and idea and action. Models are an essential part of architectural research. In this exercise, you will learn to make effective scale models. Which methods work for which scale? How do you make beautiful scale models with simple materials? You will work on the basis of a material and research what this material can do for a scale model. You will work in the model workshop of the Academy.


12. Exercise: photography
The word photography stems from Greek and literally means: ‘writing with light’. Photography is a beautiful means of communication in all phases of your design process. You can capture your initial ideas or the atmosphere of your design with photography. You can present your ultimate design and scale model in a powerful way through photography. Over the course of five weeks, you will learn the basics of architectural photography. Subjects will include the city and your own scale models.

13. Imagination: 2D-3D collage
Capturing the essence of your idea in an image is a difficult task, but very important for convincing others and bringing your own fascinations into sharper focus. During the final two weeks of the design assignment, you will work under supervision on two images. You can also use these images in your final presentation. In this programme component, we will zoom in further on your 2D drawings (plans/sections) and the 3D models of your design assignment. 

14. Exercise: make your own books
As an architect, it is very important to order and document your work properly. That is why you will close the first two months of your minor by making your own book. The key focus of this book will be the process that you have gone through and the combination of the various programme components. You will also reflect on the courses that you have finished. You will make the book under the supervision of a graphic designer and gain basic knowledge of Adobe InDesign. You will be challenged to make a consistent document that has your own unique signature. 

To close the minor, you will make a second book that is about your design assignment. Using the knowledge gained from the first book, you will be able to make this second book more to your personal liking. You will therefore have a beautiful document, in both digital and hard copy form, which represents your design process and which you can, for example, use for a job application.

- You will purchase all the materials yourself.
- You will receive an extensive reading list at the start of the minor. You can make use of the library collection.
- All programme components will take place at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture, unless stated otherwise, such as in the case of an excursion.


When will you receive a pass for the minor?

De minor in worth a total of 30 EC.  Compulsory attendance applies to all programme components. *

At the end of the minor, an assessment committee will assess your performance on the basis of:

your results for the studios and workshops;
your attendance at lectures, exercises, excursions and visits to firms (compulsory)*;
the digital final presentation of your work.

The assessment committee consists of the coordinators, supplemented by guest lecturers and/or the heads of the study programmes. They will draw up your final assessment together. During the minor, you will receive an assessment form with notes for each assessment. Did you get a fail for one or more components? In that case, the assessment committee will consider this within your results achieved as a whole. This may lead to a negative final assessment or to an additional assignment of approximately two weeks, immediately after your final presentation.

*You may be absent a maximum of one time per quarter. However, you must report your absence in advance to the lecturer in question and have a good reason. If it is not possible to report to the lecturer, please report your absence to the student secretariat or one of the coordinators of the Academy.

Have you successfully completed the minor in Architecture? You then have a greater chance of being selected for a Master’s degree at the Academy of Architecture.

Our Master’s programmes train you to become a skilful and authentic spatial designer. You will learn to clearly (re)formulate design assignments and form powerful conceptual ideas. You will know how to translate these into concrete spatial design proposals. In addition, you will learn how to present a plan in an attractive way and how you should enter into debate about your design considerations. 

Are you doubting whether you meet the admission requirements? Have you got questions about registering? Do you have any other questions?

Feel free to send an email with your question to
Mareke McAlpine / of the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture.