Architecture is all around. Whether we stretch structures into the air or dig ourselves into hills, the man-made environment frames our societies. A decision on thresholds, openings, connections and sight lines defines power and connection to the world – just as a selection of building materials, light, view and orientation define the possibility for a good life – and the possibility of nature and the future to survive man´s upheaval.
Architects´ point of view describes the comprehensive process that is a building, from decisions being made about materials and orientation, to a building´s interplay with its environment. Interlaced are multi-layered decisions with regard to cost in terms of money, time and material – and not least how the building process should proceed, how to find the building a foundation, ensuring its healthy rise and ultimately, sensible disposal.
Architecture therefore has both a profound cultural influence and a direct influence on people´s well-being.
The IAA Programme spans the first part of conventional education for qualification as an architect with a BA Degree in Architecture. The Academy of the Arts seeks to prepare its students for further study and ultimately, a successful career in the formative process of society and its environment. There is a focus on the professional quality of the teaching, that students receive a solid foundation through varied assignments on the varied scale that architecture spans.
Teaching of architecture at the Academy largely takes place in the studio as the courses hang together in a dual rhythm; conventional design projects, which take up to a whole semester, are broken up by shorter and more ebullient or deeper practical studio and research courses. The entire process hangs together and each step tends to lead to another. Studios take place in the afternoon and in the mornings, students attend theoretical and technical courses that provide the best support at each time.
Students´ developmental process is always in the foreground and, along with the provision of a solid general foundation for further study, the Academy´s teachers seek to utilise the magnificent opportunity presented to such a small Academy in its proximity to its community. The projects therefore tend to be connected to a larger context of recurring contemporary questions and research within the Academy, often in direct discourse with other departments, university institutions or institutions such as the City of Reykjavík.
In addition to academic faculty, the Academy draws on an enormously robust group of a several dozen architects, artists and other specialists, who are professionally active and provide, through connections to the profession´s discourse at each time and their specialist knowledge, a hugely important flow and renewal of professional knowledge.
The Programme´s graduation projects have the uniqueness of not really being final projects but rather a stepping away and towards new schools in other countries. The aim of the project is therefore that students have acquired a strong mastery of the design process, that they can demonstrate their skill and ability to design an integral building.
The graduation project is a mountain hut – a pit stop on a pilgrimage, in this instance, an integrated building serving pilgrims on their walk across Iceland in summer but a study hut for primary school children in winter. The project therefore engages with both the conventional subject of architecture, that the building contains an integral design quality, space for being together and for being alone and convincing connections with the environment and the extreme beauty and scale of Icelandic nature.