of Architecture


Firminy. Post utopia, an architectural fiction.

Diploma 2021


Illustration by
Jean Claude Vertongen, 1959
Photos by
Clément Guillame, 2020

Illustrazione di Jean Claude Vertongen, 1959 Fotografie di Clément Guillame, 2020
Illustrazione di Jean Claude Vertongen, 1959

Diploma 2021 will be developed from Firminy, an icon of the modern movement’s conceptual approach to architecture and the city. Firminy-Vert was designed in the mid-fifties in a still industrial city, during post-war reconstruction, followed by Le Corbusier’s work, now a Unesco world heritage site.
This urban situation combines the ordinary – the “normal city” as Richard Sennett would say – together with the extraordinary, banality with “junkspace”, as well as exceptional pieces and generous landscape features, a medium-scale urban system with a strong relationship with its countryside and peri-urban hinterland.
From this, we propose an experiment, an architectural fiction, an updated counter-vision of the modernist “dream” nurtured by the feedback that the last five decades and the contemporary challenges suggest. Instead of taking the existing situation as the Diploma context, we want to 1/ launch reflection on a prospective basis from the situation in the mid sixties, 2/ extend the boundaries from the modernist site of Firminy to its interdependent territorial features, from the shrinking core of nearby Saint-Etienne to the peri-urban countryside.
Through this experiment, we will not be thinking about what should have happened, but about what could have happened, as an open system of alternative development, where architecture gives outcomes to manifold interdependent situations: the post-industrial city and its shrinking core, the very heart of Firminy-Vert and Le Corbusier’s work, which remains untouched like a Cistercian cloister, the industrial remains, the nearby villages progressively densified, the main collective hotspots and facilities, the infrastructures, the countryside, which used to be the romantic background to the modernist masterpieces and has become the natural extension of an urban lifestyle and resource system.

  • Diploma Director
    • Frédéric Bonnet
  • Coordinator
    • Monica Sciarini
  • Assistant
    • Romain Chazalon
  • Francisco & Manuel Aires Mateus
  • Walter Angonese
  • Michele Arnaboldi
  • Valentin Bearth
  • Riccardo Blumer 
  • Martin Boesch
  • Frédéric Bonnet
  • Marc Collomb
  • Kersten Geers
  • Bijoy Jain
  • Quintus Miller
  • João Nunes & João Gomes da Silva
  • Valerio Olgiati
  • Muck Petzet
  • Jonathan Sergison

in Charge

By virtue of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union, the Diploma / Master of Science in Architecture conferred by the Academy of Architecture is recognized as a European degree. 

of the degree

  • Stanislaus Von Moos
  • Anna Bach
  • Iñaqui Carnicero
  • Pedro Pacheco 
  • Yvonne Farrell
  • Shelley McNamara
  • Franz Graf
  • Michael Jakob
  • Sonja Hildebrand
  • Mario Monotti
  • Sascha Roesler
  • Ruggero Tropeano

Members of the Jury