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Syllabus for

Academic year
ARK495 - Reality studio
Syllabus adopted 2016-02-18 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPDSD
22,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Architecture
Department: 55 - ARCHITECTURE

Course round 1

Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0114 Project, part A 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c    
0214 Project, part B 15,0 c Grading: TH   15,0 c    

In programs



Professor  Maria Nyström

Course round 2

Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0114 Project, part A 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c    
0214 Project, part B 15,0 c Grading: TH   15,0 c    

In programs



Professor  Maria Nyström


ARK161   Reality studio 1 ARK181   Reality studio 2

  Go to Course Homepage


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

Qualification for the master programme or Civil and Environmental Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design Engineering or Design, or Human Geography with a profile in planning.



The main aim of the master programme MPDSD is to provide each student with necessary skills and methods that are valid in any situation of change where design approaches are required at different system levels and scales, from urban structures, buildings and technical support systems to detailed construction elements and products. The point of departure is human everyday needs and the support of human survival and decent life in rapidly changing or sometimes extreme environments.

The master program will work in close cooperation with stakeholders in different parts of the world, in industrialised countries as well as in developing countries. The purpose is to offer the students the potential to develop professional skills that are valid in various situations and where the aim is to find adapted solutions to the problems at hand. The overall perspective stays the same: the development and implementation of aesthetic, affordable, energy and material efficient, environmental- and user-friendly solutions that support dignified human everyday life. The design studio Reality studio in an African context involves cooperation with local universities and UN-HABITAT. The aim is also to integrate the master education with development research in ways that offers the students a solid basis for their work. Vice versa the students will contribute with investigations and ideas that could be further used and developed in future research projects.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)


Knowledge and Understanding
- Describe and relate to the political vision of Sustainable Development.
- Understand their professional work in a broader perspective and find new tasks on an international labour market.
- Understand the complexity of everyday life in specific cultural and social environments.
- Provide evidence on the usefulness of design for sustainable development in different contexts.

Ability and Skill
- Be able to use system analytic methods and tools for the inventory and analysis of the built environment in different local situations and contexts.
- Be able to analyse a local situation from macro to micro levels.
- Be able to critically search for information and assess the quality of different sources of information.
- Be able to design and assess concrete proposals and solutions for local sustainable development.
- Be able to visualise and communicate different proposals for clients, stakeholders and experts in different stages of the design process.
- Be able to motivate different proposals with reference to scientific, or experience-based, knowledge and value-based arguments.

Ability of Assessment and Attitude
- To compare and assess different sources and statements concerning design for sustainable development.
- To combine knowledge from different disciplines and sectors in proposals for actions and measures in design for sustainable development.
- To contain a participatory and trans-disciplinary approach in the design process.
- To combine scientific and artistic approaches in the design process.
- To broaden the understanding of their own perspective and its limitations, through meetings with other professional and cultural perspectives on sustainable development.
- To further develop a critical thinking and reflections on the professional role, the professional ethics and the needs for life-long learning.



The design studio Reality studio is using a dynamic systems design as a tool for change. Points of departure are everyday needs and activities of people, local businesses and communities. The problems and possible solutions will vary significantly in different regions of the world. This will challenge the ability of the students in analysing the local situation in a broader context as a point of departure for the choice, the approach and the implementation of their design projects. - Preparations in Sweden including lectures, literature seminars and individual assignments. - Field studies in a smaller town in Africa in cooperation with UN-HABITAT and local universities including analysis of the local situation, design program, design project, and a concluding on site exhibition and communication will local stakeholders and the public.



The number of participants in the studio is limited. As the studio is within the master program Design for sustainable development (MPDSD), students who are admitted to MPDSD will have priority. Show up at the first day of the course. Students not attending the first course day will lose their place and it will be offered to the next in line. Any exceptions from this procedure have to be cleared with the examiner in advance. For further information about admission and registration, please contact Studentcentrum.

The design studio Reality studio is directed towards sustainable development in a smaller town in Africa. It involves close cooperation with UN-HABITAT and local universities as well as on site with local authorities and communities. The work in the early analytic stages are performed in groups that are composed in a way that create a balanced mixture of African and Swedish students as well as of disciplinary background. The programme and project design is performed in smaller groups (2-3 students). The work is supported by lectures, literature, seminars, field visits and group tutorship. Note that this design studio involves close contact with unfamiliar and sometimes uneasy conditions. The students must accept simple living and working conditions, and be able to raise extra money for travels, accommodation, food and other related costs (insurance, Visa, medical prevention). This cost is estimated to be about 12,000 - 15,000 SEK for 2007. There are options for supplementary state study loans (Swedish students) that can cover parts of this cost.



Lists of compulsory and reference literature will be presented at the start of the design studio.


Submission of accepted course assignments including design program, design project presented in posters and/or models and active participation in joint activities including lectures, seminars, field visits, cross critics and the concluding exhibition on site.

Page manager Published: Thu 03 Nov 2022.