Studying at the Academy of Architecture

Accademia di architettura Mendrisio
Accademia di architettura Mendrisio
Accademia di architettura Mendrisio
Studiare all'Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio, photo Alberto Canepa
Studiare all'Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio, photo Alberto Canepa
Studiare all'Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio, photo Alberto Canepa

An architectural faculty which boasts an innovative, interdisciplinary, humanistic and generalist teaching method. Seeking to counteract the fragmentation of knowledge threatened by over-specialisation, the Academy of Architecture will ensure that the future architects will acquire skills based on an open and critical approach, ranging from various types of architectural design to urban planning and landscapes, from the rethinking of historical heritage to developing sustainable designs.

Architects today are called on to develop innovative forms of competence to enable them to work on different fronts, from the design of individual buildings to planning regional development, from the reuse of the historical legacy to the redevelopment of the landscape, from eco-friendly buildings to aesthetic exercises applied to different architectural typologies. For this reason Mendrisio has created an interdisciplinary teaching model that goes beyond the traditional specializations so as to train architects who are both humanists and generalists as required by the times. Practical work in the design studios is combined with technical-scientific courses which explore contemporary problems and historical-humanistic courses which investigate historical, artistic, philosophical, critical and sociological issues. Its educational model ensures that future architects acquire an architectural culture with an open, critical, relevant approach. As their studies progress they can choose ways to explore the approaches to architecture best suited to their individual sensibilities.

Bachelor Info Day

Mendrisio Campus
15 December 2023, h 9:45-13:00
26 April 2024, h 9:45-13:00

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Study curriculum in Architecture

Studies at the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture are divided into semesters. The first two offer introductory training, followed by four semesters to complete the Bachelor of Science (BSc, three-year degree) and another four for the Master of Science (MSc). The last semester is devoted to the Diploma project. They are supplemented by two semesters of practical work outside the school.

Study curriculum in History and Theory of Art and Architecture

The Master in History and Theory of Art and Architecture (MSTAA) includes both the study of the history of architecture and art history. It is a complete Master with the aim of reversing the growing marginalisation of architecture art history studies. At the same time, the study of architecture and art history in various times in history (the middle ages, the modern age and the contemporary age) is complemented by in-depth studies on the theory and criticism of architecture, artistic literature, the history and practice of restoration (with moments of activity in the field), museology and digital humanities with an eye towards other artistic and cultural expressions (photography, cinema, theatre, literature). Practical workshops and internships in affiliated institutions complete the Master's training offer.

Success stories

Giorgio Villa

Architect based in London, he received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture, where he studied under the main guidance of Mario Botta and Peter Zumthor. After graduating, he has gained international experience in Italy, Japan, Switzerland, United States and United Kingdom working on a wide range of projects from domestic scale to infrastructure. From 2012 to 2014 he worked at Richard Meier & Partners in New York City on prestigious large-scale projects such as the recently completed Jesolo Hotel in Italy and Engel & Völkers new headquarters in Hamburg. His most notable involvement was with the Reforma Towers, an over 1 million square feet mixed use office and hotel complex in downtown Mexico City. In 2015 he joined Foster + Partners in London where he has been involved in several major projects including the expansion of the New Doha International Airport, Two Central Square development in Cardiff and Shams Towers in Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, he has also been part of the team designing the next generation of Apple Global Flagship Store, developing an innovative carbon fiber roof.

The Academy in figures

Enroled students in 2020
of students who graduate from the Academy find work within 1 year of completing the Diploma
1 : 9
student-teacher ratio
courses devoted to the humanities

General information

In addition to the guarantees of quality and rigour, characteristics traditionally associated with Swiss universities, our Academy, and more generally USI, have been able to combine a responsive bureaucratic structure with an efficient communication system which keeps the student as the main centre of attention, allowing for many administrative formalities to be managed by simple online operations.

Why choose Mendrisio?

Seven strengths that will tell you that this is the architecture faculty made for you.


The centrality of the project
The Academy of Architecture is a faculty where a new interdisciplinary sensibility is taught in the field of architecture, urban and landscape design and the history of art and architecture. This is achieved by an educational model that attributes a central role to the practice of architecture, with a particular concern for the humanities and technical education and the contemporary languages of architecture. A harmonious balance between design work, conducted in the numerous design studios, and theoretical courses is achieved through a constant dialogue between the different disciplines. In this context, the architectural model is a privileged medium for verifying the project. The Academy has an advanced modelling laboratory equipped with machines for cutting, 3D printing and processing a wide range of materials.



A Swiss educational model
The Academy of Architecture is one of the five faculties of the USI-Università della Svizzera italiana, one of the 12 public universities officially recognised in the Swiss academic system. Together with the guaranteed quality that has always distinguished the Swiss educational model, the Academy of Architecture offers an efficient administrative structure and a system of relationships in which the student is always the protagonist. The Swiss qualification is recognised in Italy and Europe and is equivalent to a specialist degree (Italy) and is also recognised for the purposes of access to the profession. It is compatible with the International Standard Classification of Education.



An international campus
The Mendrisio Campus consists of several buildings laid out around a historic urban park. Villa Argentina houses the management, administration and secretariat. Palazzo Canavée is the main teaching block. Palazzo Turconi contains the Academy Library and teaching facilities. The Mendrisio Theatre of Architecture is a multipurpose building for exhibitions and events. Located nearby are the Archivio del Moderno, an archive of important historical collections of Ticinese and Italian architects, and the Casa dell’Accademia, which offers student accommodation. The complex is comparable to and inspired by the prestigious university campuses in the English-speaking world. The Mendrisio Campus is open to students 24 hours a day.



Internships and mobility
To obtain the Diploma in architecture, students at the Academy have to complete an internship lasting two academic semesters in a professional practice. An important and highly professional opportunity that brings students into touch with the world of work. The location of the internship can be freely chosen and the faculty provides contacts with more than 3000 architectural firms worldwide. During the third year of the BSc course, it is possible to join the SEMP (Erasmus in the EU) international mobility programme, which enables students to study for a semester at a European or extra-European university, on the basis of bilateral agreements underwritten by the USI.



The Library and Archivio del Moderno
The Academy Library, in Palazzo Turconi, is one of Switzerland’s largest libraries of history of art and architecture. Covering 1,800 square metres, it holds an outstanding general collection, author libraries and a very extensive collection of periodicals dealing with architecture, art, design, photography, restoration, urban, territorial and landscape planning. With full open-stack access and 110 study stations, it provides fundamental support for teaching.
The Archivio del Moderno is a centre for advanced studies and a foundation that houses and preserves over 50 important historical archives of Ticinese and Italian architects and the visual arts in general.



Field trips and workshops
During the course of study, in addition to site inspections chosen as case studies by the design studios, numerous field trips are organised with the teachers of the lecture courses.
Winter and summer workshops are offered every year. The workshop provides an opportunity for intensive training and research in fields such as photography, cinema and production design, as well as, for example, social housing with the WISH-Workshop on International Social Housing.



The Diploma project
The Diploma semester is monographic in character and focuses entirely on a specific urban location, having the character of a semester of research into a project on a contemporary theme. It is a unique and distinctive phase that completes the training of the future architects. Each year a case study is identified in a metropolitan area, on which all the graduation candidates focus their design work. Divided into design studios with a maximum of 12 students, they interface directly with the requests of the local administrations of the areas under study, developing the themes proposed by the reference courses. The academic journey ends with the great graduation ceremony and an exhibition of the projects presented.