The best known figures of Italian and international design, from the Castiglioni brothers to Gio Ponti, from Ettore Sottsass to Joe Colombo, were (and are) first of all architects. The formation of the professionals who made design history – not only on our peninsula – inevitably involved the classrooms of Architectural departments.
Design, art and architecture have always been part of the DNA of Italian culture, and the institutions that formed such great creative minds enjoy major international recognition. This is confirmed in the latest Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, listing the best architectural universities in the world and including no less than seven Italian departments.
The first on the list in the Milan Polytechnic, included in the global top ten with its architecture department, awarded for training programmes capable of interpreting transformations in modern society and for its major investment on research labs and a campus worthy of international standards.
Great Britain proves to be a cutting edge country in the field of contemporary architecture: starting with the Bartlett School of Architecture, historically one of the most important schools in Europe, renowned for its ongoing experimental research. The teaching staff of the school even included Frank Gehry.
The next institution on the list is the Manchester School of Architecture: the university can boast alumni such as Sir Norman Foster, famous for having designed the bold 30 St Mary Axe in London. And, of course, we can’t ignore the University of Cambridge, the second oldest university in Great Britain, featuring an Architecture Department that is now considered one of the most avant-garde research centers in the world, despite having been set up “only” in 1912.
The top ten also includes the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) and the ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, which hold the third and fourth place, respectively.
Only three extra-European departments hold places in the top ten, proving that the old continent is still a major incubator for talent, art and culture in general.