Fifth year students from the MArch programme at the Iceland University of the Arts visited Harvard University in Boston USA from the 8th – 12th of October 2022. Massimo Santanicchia, programme director and acting head of the IUA Architecture department went with the group. The students were invited to present their research work on Reykjanes to the 5th year students and faculty in Architecture at Harvard Graduate school of Design (GSD). Anna Gasco runs the design studio which focuses on Reykjanes Peninsula, just as the IUA MArch fifth year students are currently doing.
The two schools have been collaborating since August 2022 through shared classes, shared reviews, and mutual visits. They intend to keep on the collaboration till the end of the IUA MArch design studio, which will be in December 2022.
We ask Massimo Santanicchia, programme director of MArch, about the importance of this collaboration and how it aligns with the IUA Architecture departments policy on teaching and learning:
„The goal of the MArch at the Iceland University of the Arts is to prepare students for active citizenship in the Icelandic context, understanding the role and impact of their design solutions on our society and beyond, to foster understanding and ability to contribute to new perspectives and new knowledge necessary to face the grand challenges of humanity. To do so architects need to become better collaborator and better at using the wonderous possibilities that architectural education can open up. In our design studio at the Iceland University of the Arts, educators and students speak of architectures rather than architecture, emphasizing their collective and collaborative nature.
Architectures are. . .
  • processes of exploration aimed at learning to see, listen to, and engage in dialogue with the world that surrounds us. 
  • about learning to describe the world and critically interpret it, so we might imagine a preferable one. 
  • devoted to thinking of the political, social, and ecological consequences of our design choices.  
  • plural, heterogenous, common, and shared. 
  • always in relation to places, communities, and people, and yet influenced by global forces. 
  • interconnected and interdependent with their ecological and social systems which form them. 
  • inclusive & diverse, contingent & holistic, collaborative & civic-minded, speculative & action oriented."
When speaking with students they say the trip was indeed very valuable to their studies, and that any time you get the opportunity to present your work outside the studio is valuable, especially with the venue being as prestigious as Harvard University. What inspired the IUA students the most was seeing work presented by the GSD students, they had been aware that their projects would be on a high standard, which had pushed the Icelandic students to do better, both on a professional and educational level. The feedback they got after the presentation had also been beneficial and encouraging. And finally, the surroundings at Harvard, the buildings on campus, had been incredibly inspiring – but many of the buildings are designed by world renowned architects.  
The students that went to Harvard with Massimo Santanicchia were Davið Snær Sveinsson, Eva Johansdóttir, Katrín Heiðar, Martina Domaradzka, Griffiths, Oddur Gunnarsson Bauer, Rami A. S. Mussa Zakia.
The student presentation on Reykjanes can been seen here.


*Photos from students and Massimo Santanicchia.