Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden

Decolonizing Architecture: Experimental Sites of Knowledge Production

Campus in Camps gathering, Palestine 2013.

The application for the academic year 2019/2020 is closed

“Architecture is too important to leave to the Architects.” (Giancarlo De Carlo)

Decolonizing Architecture: The Afterlife of colonial fascist architecture in Ethiopia and Eritrea from A DE SOUSA on Vimeo.

Education is once again at the forefront of the political struggle for justice and equality. In the last years, new programs and schools, self-organized and project based learning environments focused on art and architecture have emerged, as well as structural reforms within formal education institutions. In these areas, there is a development of experimental and collective spaces to acknowledge forms of artistic research and knowledge production grounded in practice, context and lived experience and connected to social struggles in societies. Architectural knowledge in these collective learning environments have been deployed both as an analytic tool to redefine conceptual categories of the present and also as pragmatic and material form of activist spatial intervention. What is at stake in these experimental learning environments is the possibility to connect different urgencies without falling in the trap of universalizing or identitarian models.

The ambition of Decolonizing Architecture advanced course is to create a research group to produce original collective artistic research. Decolonization is the critical position and conceptual frame for an architectural practice engaged in social and political struggles. During the course 2019/20 we will ask ourselves, which role have institutions of higher learning in the greater transformation of society? How can the knowledge that is produced inside its walls continue be relevant, useful for students interested in developing a practice engaged in social and spatial transformation? What kinds of spatial settings, structures or institutions are required for the accommodation of interests and subjects born from the interaction between students, teachers and the broader social context? How can the attention of educational institutions move from the production of knowledge – based on information and skills – to processes of collective learning, based on critical approaches, visions and shifts in perception? How can you reconcile theory with action by combining a rigorous understanding of the problems with pragmatic spatial interventions?

The course aims to reflect on architectural and other spatial knowledges that emerge from sites understood as physical spaces, as well as communities, experiences and bodies. Based on the assumption that every student is a bearer of knowledge, the course participants research interests, methods, questions and urgencies serve as points of departure to establish a common methodology and a common vocabulary with the aim to come together in a collective ongoing artistic research project and an online platform, that is constituted by descriptions, conceptualizations, video essays, manifesto, photographic dossier and of forms of analysis and intervention. The course takes inspiration by the teaching philosophy based on the pedagogy developed in Campus in Camps ( an educational program in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem as well as of other examples of artistic and experimental critical pedagogies. By activating critical environments learning we aim to strengthen self-driven participants intellectual trajectories and at the same seeking to contribute to the way universities understand themselves, aiming to overcome conventional structure.

The advanced course Decolonizing Architecture (IV) is part of a five-year (2017-2022) sequence of courses that together form a platform for higher education and research on the topic of Decolonizing Architecture at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. The courses are lead by Alessandro Petti, professor in Architecture and Social Justice in collaboration with Marie-Louise Richards, lecturer in Architecture and enriched by the contribution of advisors and invited guests. The course benefits from being located in a leading art institution of higher learning and its experimental artistic research environment. At the end of the first semester it is possible for course participants to apply for university funding in order to develop their research projects and present it to a wider public during the research week.

Moreover, after the successful termination of the course, students have the possibility to enroll in a second-year course that will allow them to deepen their research and develop a research project that emerged during the first year. These sequences of courses offer a unique possibility for participants to join a collective international community of practitioners interested in the social and political dimension of architecture and to receive the necessary material and intellectual support for developing a self-driven artistic and architectural practice.

Course structure
The course is divided into two modules during one academic year. The semester is divided into three mandatory blocks per semester of intensive program with seminars, lectures, studios, mentorships, collective readings, site visits and walks. Between blocks the participants independently develop work, research, write, read, draw, interview, and conduct site visits. During the spring semester, more emphasis will be put on the production of a collective intervention/exhibition. In order to fully benefit from the collective research atmosphere we strongly advise to reside in Stockholm. However, we understand that this is not always possible, therefore non-resident students are asked to attend a minimum of six blocks and to submit substitute assignments. The course will also offer field trips in Sweden and abroad. Course participants are expected to pay for part of the costs. The field trips are not mandatory and for those who are unable to take part a substitute assignment will be given.

The course is intended for those with studies or experiences in architecture, art, urban research, radical pedagogies, decolonial theory or activism who are interested in the ideological, social and political dimensions of Architecture. Selection is made based on previous projects and experiences and a motivation letter that together form the application. In the letter the candidate should state in which ways the conceptual frame of the course is relevant for her/his study. Ideal candidates are applicants interested in the ideological and social dimensions of Architecture, and in conceptual speculations and theories that are grounded and emerges from artistic and architectural practice. Candidates should be open to experimental forms of collective production that challenges individual authorship, and to an open-ended process oriented towards material and immaterial outcomes. The course requires the candidate to be able to efficiently manage independent study and production time between course blocks.

Course Syllabus: Decolonizing Architecture: Experimental Sites of Knowledge Production.


Extension: Application for Decolonizing Architecture (V) – The afterlife of colonial architecture, 60 ECTS-credits

Following on from Decolonizing Architecture (II) – displacement, migration and colonial heritage (60 ECTS-credits) 2018-2019, there is a 60 ECTS-credit extension course.

Specific entry requirement: Master of Fine Arts or Architecture or a Master degree in another relevant field, or the equivalent knowledge and 60 ECTS-credits from the course Decolonizing Architecture (II) – displacement, migration and colonial heritage

Course syllabus: Decolonizing Architecture V – The afterlife of colonial architecture – 60 ECTS-2019

Application and selection
Selection is 50% based on the evaluation of the outcomes of the previous year published on the web archive of the course and 50% based on the submission of an independent research project proposal in which the focus of the research, a timeline and possible outcomes are clearly stated. In a letter the candidate should motivate why and in which ways the conceptual frame of the course is relevant for her/his study. Deadline 8 May, 1 pm, 2019. The application is submitted via email to:


Finance and Fees
Admission and tuition fees apply for students from countries outside the EU/EEA. The tuition fee at the Royal Institute of Art is 316 430 SEK per academic year and the admission fee is 900 SEK. The deadline for the admission fee is the same as the application deadline. International students who have been accepted to a study programme in Sweden must show financial means of support during study time to the immigration authorities in order to obtain a study visa. Info about Fees 2019