Architectural Education

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Architectural Education


the system of training professional architects and architectural technicians.

The architect’s profession is one of the most ancient. In countries of the ancient East it was among the most prestigious and was open only to the nobility. In ancient Egypt an architect was educated in the school for scribes but usually learned the craft from his family, for architectural skills and methods were handed down from generation to generation. In ancient Greece (fifth to second centuries B.C.) architects were trained in small private schools under the guidance of experienced masters. It is possible to form an idea of the content of architectural education during the last centuries B.C. from the classical work of the Roman architect Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture (second half of the first century B.C.). Architectural education not only included knowledge of building materials, the construction trade, and constructional elements, but also of geometry, astronomy, history, philosophy, and so on. With the development of construction in the Roman Empire, architectural schools specializing in the training of architects were established. The experience of architectural education in the Roman Empire was assimilated by Byzantium and other countries of the Near East, where new problems connected with the building of new types of religious structures were resolved. In the Middle Ages the training of architects was concentrated in the monasteries, and in the cities of Western Europe architects were trained in guild shops where the succession principle in professions was adhered to. During the Renaissance in Italy and the neighboring European countries, the guild system of architectural education was developed and improved. Alberti, the outstanding Italian art theoretician, in the Ten Books on Architecture, described the architect as a universal master and scientist who was both an artist and an engineer. In guild shops the future architect was trained by one master under whose tutelage he studied the art of architecture, classical monuments, the so-called orders, building materials and the methods of their treatment, mathematics, and other sciences. Many outstanding architects of the Renaissance—such as Brunelleschi, Bramante, and Michelangelo—after serving an apprenticeship with a master, rounded out their architectural training by taking part in excavations and studying ancient monuments.

In the 17th—18th centuries in Italy, France, and later a number of other European countries, academies of fine arts were opened in which architects were trained with artists and sculptors (in 1671 the special Royal Academy of Architecture was established in France). Future architects were given practical training in the academy workshops, each under his own master of architecture. Universal architectural courses of scientific importance for their time were developed and published by the academies.

In the mid-19th century higher technical schools, including civil engineering schools, appeared in France, Germany, Russia, and some other countries. These schools also trained engineers specializing in architecture. This resulted in the division of the architect’s profession into two specialties—artist-architect and engineer-architect, or civil engineer. The former constructed monumental buildings, and the latter specialized in utilitarian buildings. The division of architectural schools into art and technical departments in a number of western countries (for example, in Austria, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Switzerland) is still in effect today. Architects who graduate from art schools must take state technical examinations to become licensed builders, which sometimes extends the time of architectural training to eight to ten years.

The beginning of architectural training in Russia goes back to the time of the formation of the ancient Russian state (tenth century). In ancient times, builders’ artels gave prospective masters of architecture practical training. During the 16th and 17th centuries the training of master stonecutters was organized in Moscow under state control in the Department of Masonry. Peter I sent young architects to Holland and other countries of Western Europe to be trained, and he made plans to establish an academy of fine arts. In 1749 several private professional schools, or “architectural training detachments,” in Moscow merged to form the training detachment of the outstanding architect D. V. Ukhtomskii. In 1757 the Academy of the Three Noblest Arts was established in St. Petersburg, and in 1764 it was reorganized into the Academy of Fine Arts, headed by A. F. Kokorinov; prominent Russian architects came out of this academy. At the end of the 18th century M. F. Kazakov, Ukhtomskii’s pupil, founded a school of architecture at the Department of Kremlin Construction in Moscow. In 1866 the School of Painting and Sculpture (established in Moscow in 1846) began training architects and was renamed the School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture; it lasted until 1918. In the middle of the 19th century the Institute of Civil Engineering was opened in St. Petersburg for the training of construction specialists, including architects; technical sciences predominated in their training.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution, the principle of integrated artistic and technical training for future architects was assumed as a basis in the system of architectural education. By a decree of the RSFSR Council of People’s Commissars, signed by V. I. Lenin (Nov. 19,1920), higher art and technical studios (VKhUTEMAS), including architectural workshops, were created in Moscow on the basis of the former School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. In 1926–27, VKhUTEMAS was reorganized as the Higher Institute of Art and Technology (VKhUTEIN), where specialization in various types of buildings, urban planning, and decorative spatial architecture was introduced at the department of architecture. In 1930, on the basis of the Department of Architecture of VKhUTEIN and a similar department organized in 1916 at the Moscow Higher Technical School, the Higher Architectural Construction Institute was created. Since 1933 it has been known as the Moscow Institute of Architecture and has been the center of architectural education in the country.

Since the establishment of the Soviet government, a system of architectural departments and divisions has been introduced at various kinds of higher educational establishments—at civil engineering, art, and polytechnical institutions. In 1968 there were about 40 such departments and divisions in the USSR—in Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don, Kiev, L’vov, Kharkov, Minsk, Tallin, Riga, Kaunas, Vil’nius, Tbilisi, Yerevan, Baku, Tashkent, Samarkand, Alma-Ata, and others.

The system of Soviet architectural education is organized with a view to the new demands made on architects by the development of modern architecture both as a science and an art and by modern construction techniques. The training of architects in the USSR is done by specialties: civil construction, industrial construction, urban construction (urban planning), landscaping, interiors and the inside equipment of buildings, and agricultural construction. The first two years of the total period of training (five years, six months) are devoted to general training in mathematics, physics, structural mechanics, the construction industry, building materials, history of architecture and art, drawing, sculpture, and painting; specialization begins in the upper classes. The leading subject is architectural designing—a complex creative discipline that enables students of architecture to acquire professional experience by passing from the designing of simple buildings to complicated ones. Owing to the fact that new building materials are being used more and more in modern construction and the fact that mechanization and construction of houses from prefabricated structural elements are widely used, the technical training of future architects has increased. The need for architect-technicians has grown.

Training is conducted in architectural and construction and construction technicums in Moscow, Minsk, Leningrad, Vil’nius, and Kishinev (in day and evening schools). The course takes four years in day school and five years in evening school. In addition to general education subjects, the future architect-technicians study the technology of the construction industry, architectural construction, principles of urban planning, economics, the organization and planning of construction and installation operations, and so on.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, in connection with the reconstruction and construction of cities, the growth of the urban population, and generally higher housing standards, architectural education increased greatly in most countries. There are more than ten large architectural schools (in the form of departments) in universities in France (among them, Paris, Lyon, Marseille) and Italy (Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples, and so on); more than 20 in Britain (London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Manchester, and others); and about 70 in the United States (many of them are not state but private schools). There are architectural schools in Switzerland, the Federal Republic of Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. Paris is a universally recognized center of architectural education in Western Europe.

The development of architectural education is particularly intense in socialist countries, where the need for architects by the national economy is constantly increasing. There are several large architectural schools in Poland, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia (Warsaw, Kraków, Dresden, Weimar, Prague, Brno, and others), Bulgaria, and Rumania (in the capitals). Architectural schools have also been opened in the Korean Democratic People’s Republic, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, and the developing countries—for example, India, Burma, Algeria, the United Arab Republic, Guinea, and Ghana.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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