new PhD program in Digital Design at European Graduate School

Digital Design PhD Program at European Graduate School

Under its Director, Wolfgang Schirmacher, the European Graduate School [EGS] is currently inviting expressions of interest in a new 'Digital Design' stream within the EGS Media and Communication Division's Postgraduate Program leading to a possible PhD.

The EGS already has a very strong reputation in the area of Critical Theory, Philosophy and Media/Film Theory, counting some of the most illustrious thinkers in the world among its faculty, including Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Helene Cixous, Jean Luc Nancy, Manuel De Landa, Lev Manovich, and Paul Virilio. It also has a strong reputation in the area of Media and Communications, with some of the leading figures in Film and Art. The EGS postgraduate program is designed for working professionals, and residential requirements are limited to attendance of a series of brief, intense workshops in the summer months at its base in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. For further details please see the EGS website:

The EGS is currently exploring the possibility of a new 'digital design' stream within the Media and Communication Division. If there prove to be sufficient initial expressions of interest from prospective students, the EGS will evaluate the establishment of this new program. The program will then begin in September 2013, with the first residential workshop taking place in Saas-Fee in June 2014, provided that it meets the basic minimum requirement of 20+ confirmed applicants.

The urge to establish a new Digital Design PhD stream within the Media and Communication Division at EGS stems in part from the limited number of PhD programs in this field, compared to the relative proliferation of masters programs around the world. It also stems from the growing expectation for academics to hold PhD degrees. But, above all, it stems from the demand for a relatively low cost PhD program that is flexible enough to allow those working in architectural offices or teaching in academic institutions to continue their employment while undertaking their PhD research. Current overall fees for a 4 year PhD with the EGS amount to $24, 450, making it an attractive financial option, compared to most other programs.

A number of pre-eminent figures from the field of Digital Design have already offered to teach on the new program:

John Frazer is regarded by many as the godfather of architectural computation, and acknowledged as a leader in the field of evolutionary digital design, and originator of the Evolutionary Digital Design Process. His seminal book, An Evolutionary Architecture, is regarded as a classic within the field.

Mark Burry is Professor of Innovation at RMIT, and Director of the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory and founding Director of the Design Research Institute at RMIT. He is also executive architect and researcher for the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona, Spain.

Achim Menges is a Professor at the University of Stuttgart and a founding member of the Institute for Computational Design. His work focuses on the development of integral design processes at the intersection of morphogenetic computation, biomimetic engineering and computer aided manufacturing.

Manuel De Landa is the Gilles Deleuze Professor of Contemporary Philosophy and Science at the European Graduate School. He also teaches at Pratt Institute, USC, and UPenn. He is the author of a series of highly influential books, including A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History and Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy.

Patrik Schumacher is a partner in Zaha Hadid Architects, and a founding director of the AA DRL. He studied both architecture and philosophy in London, Bonn and Stuttgart, and holds a PhD from Klagenfurt University. He has taught at many schools of architecture, and is the author of a two volume edition, The Autopoiesis of Architecture.

Alisa Andrasek is an experimental practitioner and research based educator of architecture and computational processes in design. She now teaches design and theory seminars at the Bartlett School of Architecture, having previously taught at Columbia GSAP and the Architectural Association. She is a Director of Biothing/CONTINUUM.

Mette Thomsen is Professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, where she directs the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture. Her work focuses on Digital Crafting as a way of thinking material practice, computation and fabrication as part of architectural culture.

Neil Leach is a designer and architectural theorist, who has published 23 books on architectural theory and digital design. He has taught at several leading schools of architecture, including SCI-Arc, Columbia GSAP, AA, DIA, IaaC and USC, and is a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Fellow developing robotic fabrication technologies for printing structures on the Moon and Mars.

In the first year instructors will each offer 3 days of intensive lectures over the residential summer workshop in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. These lectures are designed to fulfill the requirements of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) regarding contact hours and student workload.

During their second year students get the chance to study under the other illustrious EGS professors. Aside from Slavoj Zizek, and the other figures mentioned above, these also include others working in architecture and digital theory, such as Geert Lovink, Lev Manovich, Mitchell Joachim and Hendrik Speck. As they enter their third year, upon completion of all course work and examinations, students will be invited to establish supervisory arrangements with the individual professors. Research is expected to be self-directed according to the European model.

Students interested in the program are invited to send an initial expression of interest, together with a one page CV by 15 April 2013 to:

Neil Leach