Architecture Schools and Programs in Sweden

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Architecture Studies in Sweden

Nestled in the Alps and fortified by a long history of pluralism and independence, Switzerland is often called the crossroads of Europe. Its population combines French, German, Italian, and Eastern European cultures, and has been known for centuries as one of the most diverse, eclectic, and pluralistic societies in Europe and even the world. Switzerland is also known as a place of great learning. It has more students per capita than almost any other country in Europe, and a sizeable proportion of those students are foreign-born. In fact, no European country has a higher percentage of students who are
of foreign nationality – no surprise given Switzerland’s central location and diverse cultural and linguistic makeup, but nonetheless an indication of how appealing its educational opportunities are to people throughout Europe and the world at large.

Swiss architecture is, like the country as a whole, an eclectic mix. Influenced by the styles of all parts of Europe, Swiss architecture is generally not characterized by a strong national tradition. The one exception is the Swiss Chalet style, which is distinctively Swiss in origin despite being extremely popular among Northern European societies such as Norway, Finland, and Iceland. Buildings in the Chalet style feature large, gabled roofs with awning-like structures at the eaves, along with decorative molding and fine detail work along the roof- and balcony-lines. It also uses exposed beams in a decorative style reminiscent of French style timber framing or the Norwegian stave-church. Although Chalet style architecture is most commonly associated with grand manors and hotels such as the Kviknes Hotel, it works equally well in a more humble setting, where it gives the impression of a small forest cabin or cottage. In a curious twist of cultural transmutation, many Americans associate Chalet-style architecture with Christmas, since the classic Christmas scenes depicted in the 1950s and 60s were based on Switzerland.

There are nine dedicated schools of architecture in Switzerland, all attached to broader technical institutes or universities of applied science accredited by the Swiss federal government. 3 of these institutes are in Zurich, one of world history’s great centers of science and learning. Zurich has 60,000 total students at its colleges and universities, meaning 1/6th of all residents are college students or graduate students. Of course, this does not include students in primary and secondary school, or the many teachers, professors, and administrators that support the educational institutions. By some estimates, nearly half of Zurich’s residents are in some way involved in the education sector. Thus, it is an excellent example of how the rigor of education, size of student community, and quality of life combine to make Switzerland one of the world’s leading destinations for foreign study in architecture and other fields in the arts and applied sciences.


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