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Architecture is called the master of the arts but in the Netherlands the profession has ever since I can remember a dualistic attitude towards this salutation. Does the profession want to be part of the arts, the technical engineering or is the architect an entrepreneur? Academies and universities changed focus over the years and now face the BEP, Dutch for Register of Architects approved Personal Traineeship. What happened?

Until the late 80ths, the academies in the Netherlands used to be of high status and were proud to be the only provider of the title architect. Their students were a little older, mostly with a technical or art background and already occupied in architectural offices or at high rank positions at urban departments of the municipalities. The five academies were in serious competition for the best students and lectured not only in architecture, urban and housing but also in arts, philosophy, politics and writing. Technical and business knowledge was supposed to be already present as practical experience in daily professional live.

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Professors were practicing architects and debates and lectures attracted small crowds. Architecture could also be studied at the TH or ‘technische hoge school’ in Delft or Eindhoven and the title provided in the field of architecture was technical engineer. These students, fresh from Highschool encountered the profession of architecture purely theoretical and technical classes were part of the curriculum.

In 1986 the TH was renamed Technical University and adapted the Anglo-Saxon system of bachelor and master. The academies eager to join the new international standards, adapted, although without the bachelor program, the master title too. In 1999, in order to tune the level of education at universities and academies, the ‘Declaration of Bologna’ was signed by all European members and the bachelor-master system was a unifying fact.

What seemed to be a simple change of name appeared to have an unexpected side effect. The Netherlands suddenly was in possession of 7 institutes with a department of architecture all providing the tittle of Master. The need for existence of the two Technical Universities was without a doubt but what to do with the five academies? After years of a serious battle between the cities the academy of Amsterdam, Groningen, and Rotterdam survived, but without their status of solemn master. The academies were forced to adapt the bachelor too and with accepting this, lost their supremacy of the universities. Less students were motivated to enter the academies next to their daily work in the practice.

During these sorrowful years for the Academies the Technical Universities took the position of academic platform in architecture and abandoned (Eindhoven a bit less) slowly their technical focus. This shift of focus had a dramatic result.

In 2015 the Dutch Register of Architects decided the title of Master, in architecture (and urban design, landscape design or interior architecture) acquired at the universities is no longer valid to practice the title of architect. Additional one has to successfully complete a by the Register approved personal traineeship that will be assessed by a committee of your professions discipline. This personal traineeship will take approximately two to three years additional to a 32 hours permanent job at an office.

 The academies acted fast and cleverly renewed their out-of-school curricula to reflect the standards set by the Professional Traineeship Regulation. After nearly thirty years the Academies of Architecture are again the only institutes that provide the title of architect. If the academies also succeed in regaining their status by being the architectural center of lecture and debate students might decide to study where they can get the real title of architect. Universities could also invent their own post master professional traineeship.

If not or until then, for whom that still want the profession of architect, don’t worry Gulce and Dario will help you out with their BEP classes.


Dikkie Scipio for FGF




Veerle Absil Follow-up, Publications, Quarterly winner