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Erfurt University of Applied Sciences – Faculty of Architecture

Author: Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Ludwig Rongen

The Architecture Workshop – Energy and Form

Excellent career prospects at the national and international level for graduates of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt

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because it’s not a “construction expert“ I’m talking about but an architect who has learnt to design an outstanding building in thought and feeling by means of a beautiful plan…“ Leon Battista Alberti expresses himself thus in the preface to his ten books on architecture.


This is how the flyer about the Masters Degree Course of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt begins.

Naturally, a high-quality design is a prerequisite for an “outstanding building”, but this alone cannot claim to fulfill all the conditions for an “outstanding building“. Good architecture is more than just quality designing. It has always been the role of architects to face up to the challenges and problems of the time and find appropriate answers. Good architects have always been aware of their high social responsibility.

Energy and climate protection are directly related to each other and have become two of the most important, if not the most important topic of our time. Every day the media reports about continuously rising energy prices, climate change and natural catastrophes. By now, word has got around: energy resources are finite! “The train of global climate change is gathering momentum” (Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber).

Today, no-one can seriously deny this fact. And, as we all now know, the problem is man-made.

Word has also got around that we can no longer stop climate change, and we certainly can’t undo it any more. At the most, we can try to limit the effects, but we must not wait any longer! We should learn our lesson from climate change, which even experts did not expect on this scale.

Counteracting dwindling energy resources by further expanding the network of nuclear power stations is not an alternative and certainly cannot be implemented so quickly in Germany, which is a good thing.

Usually, the justifiable objective of architects is to create buildings with a high quality design (see above). And this is where opinions often become divided. Exactly that profession which can address the above-mentioned problems – i.e. architects - has not become aware of them as much as it should be (at least in Germany this is unfortunately the case). Maybe this has to do with ignorance (“highly efficient buildings can’t have a high quality design” – this is one of the main arguments due to which highly efficient construction is not considered by architects; such preconceptions - often expressed and adhered to by seasoned and reputed architects - need to be dispelled), or maybe it is because of the fear of coming into contact with “some” building physics? At all events, particularly chambers of architects frequently find that the topic of “energy-efficient construction” is approached by architects only with great reluctance.

The Faculty of Architecture at the University of Erfurt has set itself the ambitious goal of counteracting this tendency. For this reason the topic of “Energy and Form” has been chosen as the focus for all the in-depth studies of the Masters Degree Course “Masterhaus – Energy and Form” which has been available since the winter semester of 2008/2009.

The term “Masterhaus” defines a special method of teaching. Like the work in an architect’s office which designs, plans and implements projects of a high standard of quality, it is intended to impart practical knowledge and approaches. Each student has his or her own fixed work station within the premises made available by the University. One of the in-depth studies is called the “PASSIVHAUS+”. The “+” sign stands for the fact that highly-efficient buildings are more than just super-insulated envelopes, that they are not just unproportional impersonal containers of a poor design quality. Just as high-quality design alone cannot claim to be “good architecture”, in the same way, one cannot speak of a Passive House as “good architecture” just because it is a Passive House. However, the fact that especially Passive Houses can meet all the requirements for “good architecture” has now been confirmed through numerous Passive Houses that have been realised.

High-efficiency construction is not only about physics; high quality construction is also about architecture at the highest level, about urban planning and structural design, about economy and ecology, and last but not least, also about sociology and psychology. All this and much more will be taught to students in the “PASSIVHAUS+ “ in-depth studies during the Masters Degree Course, in order to train them for one of the greatest challenges of our time. The study course not only imparts architectural knowledge for this purpose but also combines it with the necessary building physics knowledge. In this way, contemporary architects can face the issue of “energy efficient construction” and put architecture, environmental protection and sustainability together as a whole.

The successful students of all Masters Degree Courses will achieve the “Master of Arts” academic degree. Moreover, they can also qualify for the Passive House Institute’s “Certified Passive House Designer” Certificate which promises excellent career prospects at home and abroad.

The intellectual father of the Passive House, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Feist of the University of Innsbruck and Director of the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, will himself participate in the study course as a teacher.

The Masters Degree Course of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Erfurt has a duration of 2 years. It addresses architects with professional experience and graduates specialising in the field of architecture, who already have a bachelor’s degree or diploma.

The “PASSIVHAUS+” in-depth study programme of the Masters Degree Course teaches conceptual, experimental and analytical skills that are important for developing innovative building designs. Besides many other topics which open up employment opportunities beyond Germany, the 4 semesters of the consecutive study course will include the acquisition of conceptual, experimental and analytical skills for developing future-oriented building concepts, as well as the integration of the latest intelligent technologies in construction and planning processes. The focal points of the internationally-oriented Masters Degree Course are “Energy and Building Design”, “Energy and New Technologies” and “Energy and Urban Planning”.


Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Ludwig Rongen
Architect and Urban Planner, Association of German Architects, Certified Passive House Designer
Guest Professor at the University of Southwest Jiaotong in Chengdu (Republic of China)
Guest Professor at the University of Sichuan in Chengdu (Republic of China)

Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Rolf Gruber
Architect, Association of German Architects
International Affairs

education_training/university_programmes/erfurt_university_of_applied_sciences_faculty_of_architecture.txt · Last modified: 2014/09/18 18:19 (external edit)