Project-based architecture

The INSA Strasbourg architecture course focuses on project-based architecture and the theoretical teaching provides students with the necessary methods and knowledge.

A technical culture

This rests on the package of scientific and technical knowledge already acquired by students admitted to the first year of architecture, in a truly polytechnic institution.

A dense teaching programme

The high number of lectures each week allows students to acquire in-depth knowledge and skills over the five years of their architecture studies. The teaching method also favors group work and seeks to generate exchanges, debates and interactions between students.


The existence of a School of Architecture within a polytechnic institution makes it possible to build more and more educational and operational bridges between the different departments.

A coherent teaching faculty

Educational supervision is provided academics and practicing professionals.


Year 1 is the year of innovation.

It is devoted to giving students the bases of a combined culture: architecture, science and technology. Project-based learning involves small-scale projects on individual programmes without imposed sites. During this year students discover and learn the methods of the discipline. The teaching focuses on space as architectural, sensitive, qualified, represented, built, used and appropriate space. The target skills are the acquisition of an architectural and engineering culture with intersecting knowledge pools, and the uses of intuition in projects.

Year 2 is the year of conceptualization.

It is devoted to the acquisition of the tools and processes of conceptualization. Project-based learning now involves medium-scale projects, with sites and programmes including a collective dimension (cultural, physical and social). This year the students probe deeper into the interconnections between the know-how involved in the four main design operations: division of space, composition, envelope and structure. It is in their second year that the students learn to read to read a language and a site, that they start to learn technical and architectural experimentation and iterative thinking. The target skills are analysis, specific methodology, the passage from intuition to intention, and the ranking of constraints and wishes.

Year 3 is the year of contextualization.

It is devoted to the integration into a complex, multi-scale project of the different challenges and issues in a situation (spatial, social, historical, environmental, etc.). This year is characterized by a high level of interdisciplinarity. Architectural design is now oriented by the inclusion of different scales and the exploration of urban territories and landscapes. The project must be tuned in to needs and wishes. It will be shared and debated. This third year places the emphasis on representation and argumentation thanks to strong contacts with external partners.  The target skills are the ability to synthesize knowledge and the construction of complex, articulated thought.

Year 4 is the year of complexity.

It is devoted to developing the skills already acquired and the tools appropriated by means of a large-scale architectural project. This will be a project involving a complex site and programme (museum, hospital, tall building, restructuring of a heritage site, complicated urban or regulatory context, slope, etc.). This type of site will generate unusual relations with the landscape, disruptions in proportions and pathways, inverted ratios. Complexity becomes a design tool and is re-interpreted in terms of form and space. The approach is centered on the idea of “The Capable Man”. The designer’s job is to transform complexity into simplicity: achieving this requires the integration of variety, a synergy and not dispersion. This is the year of architectural experimentation and the handling of concepts. The target skills are transversality, the implementation of cross-/inter-/multi-disciplinary skills on every scale.

Year 5 is the year of experimentation.

This year the students are expected to pull together all the skills they have acquired. The focus is on the final course project, which will draw on their skills in programming, the analysis of contexts, design and conceptualization, their know-how in construction and representation. It is also the year for learning the duration and iterative process of re-questioning involved in bringing the project to maturity.  The students are expected to have a good command of all the components of the project: to be capable of verbalizing a problem or issue, of understanding and analyzing the contexts, of identifying the requirements through a critical approach to developing the programme, and of formalizing spatialized responses consistent with their own design and representation methodology.

Internships-final course projects

Several mandatory internships must be completed during the training. At the end of Year 1, the equivalent of the engineers’ “shopfloor” placement: the student will be on a building site with a construction company, in a worker role. In subsequent years, the internships will be with architects’ or urban planning firms, or construction engineering firms. The total duration of these internships is at least 24 weeks.

The preparation of the final course project (PFE) is completed with a presentation of the student’s work in front of a panel of 80 people, two thirds of whom are professionals from outside the school. The highpoint of the course comes at the end when all the students at the INSA Strasbourg School of Architecture take part in the “charrettes”, a unique collective training exercise that forges a shared spirit between INSA Strasbourg architects.

More information on final course projects in architecture.


The architecture course includes an introduction to research, with the writing of a research dissertation. Students can go on to do a vocational or research master’s, then a doctorate in architecture.

INSA Strasbourg awards a master’s in urban and territorial planning.

The research work is done as part of joint research team with the ENSAS (Strasbourg school of architecture): the AMUP laboratory (architecture, urban morphogenesis and the project).


A diploma in architecture modeled on the INSA Strasbourg diploma has been launched at the French University in Egypt (UFE) in Cairo. The two institutions have signed a cooperation agreement. More information on cooperation with the UFE in Cairo.


An international summer school for architecture students has been organized since 2013.  This offers students the possibility of taking part in a construction project, the installation of objects and the making of films with the Rhine as their theme. It is co-organized by INSA Strasbourg, ENSA Strasbourg, ArtEZ in Arnhem (Netherlands) and Hochschule Konstanz (Germany). The INSA Strasbourg architecture blog has accounts of past summer schools.


The INSA Strasbourg Diploma in Architecture is recognized and appreciated by professionals. It allows all forms of independent or salaried practice in both the private and public sectors.

It paves the way to all the architectural professions: architect-head of a firm of architects (with the HMONP accreditation), salaried architect with a firm of architects, urban planner, landscaper, executing contractor, service provider (architectural renderer, physical or virtual architectural model maker), project owner’s assistant, programme manager, architects’ collectives, interior architect, lecturer, consultant, etc.


Students who pass the Diploma can go on to take the HMONP diploma (architect’s project management accreditation) at INSA Strasbourg. This accreditation is required to be able to set up as self-employed architect.

Architecture prizes

Every year the Academy of Architecture awards prizes to the final course projects or young architects.

Architects from INSA Strasbourg are regular winners and nominees.

For more information see the INSA Strasbourg architecture blog.