Award for pedagogical work on Design Activism

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Woodwork in the woods
Students in the outdoor classroom they built during the summer course Dare2Build, developed together with children from the Gärdsmosse school. Photo: Emilio Brandao

A team of teachers from ACE have been awarded a sustainability price by the International Union of Architechts (UIA) for their work on courses and design studios in the master's programme Architecture and Planning Beyond Sustainability. One of the common features for the parts of the education that have been awarded is the aim to find solutions for real-world problems in a local context. 

Emilio Brandao, Shea Hagy, Marco Adelfio, and Liane Thuvander, at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, has been awarded “The UIA award for innovation in architectural education”, by the International Union of Architechts (UIA), for their innovative pedagogical work on Design Activism, which is part of the Master’s programme Architecture and Planning Beyond Sustainability (MPDSD). This edition of the award focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the award seeks to promote inspiring pedagogical practices that contribute to the creation of sustainable environments.

Hyper-local solutions for real-world problems

The jury’s motivation to award the pedagogical work titled “Design Activism Beyond Sustainability – Architectural Education based on Collaborative and Radical Pedagogy” is: “The programme places emphasis on knowledge progression and skills application in a variety of relevant contexts through experience-based learning and the development of hyper-local solutions for real-world problems”.

The entry concentrates on a selection of interconnected design studios of MPDSD: Social Inclusion, Dare to Build, Reality Studio, the Beyond Sustainability course, and the master thesis direction Design Activism Beyond Borders, representing projects and processes carried out in various geographical and cultural environments with hyper-local approaches and impacts.

Challenging for the students

Examples of such environments are marginalized urban suburbs in Gothenburg, informal settlements in Kenya and South Africa, and environments of emergency, such as Beirut, in Lebanon, after the 2020 catastrophic explosion.

 – It’s vital that students are given the opportunity to explore the limits of their abilities to tackle real world problems and learn to collaborate across disciplinary and cultural borders if we are, as a society, to achieve a future beyond sustainability’, says the awarded teaching team in a common statement.

The award-winning projects will be exhibited at the UIA Education Commission Exhibition during the 28th UIA World Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, 3-6 July 2023.

Henriette Söderberg, Head of the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering is happy about the education being recognized by the UIA:

 – Our staff put down hard work and make great efforts on a daily basis, which seldom gets this kind of attention. The more reason to celebrate when it actually happens, and Emilio, Shea, Marco and Liane should be proud of what they have built up. The QS ranking is yet another example where the strengths of our education is recognized, as we yet again can be found on the top 50, says Henriette Söderberg.

About the UIA Award for innovation in architectural education


About the MPDSD Programme

MPDSD aims at being at the forefront of Sustainable Development pushing agendas of research and practice beyond conventional approaches to sustainability, involving methodologies and pedagogies of circularity, emergency architecture, and design activism.

Emilio Da Cruz Brandao
  • Artistic Teacher, Urban Design and Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Shea Hagy
  • Artistic Teacher, Building Technology, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Marco Adelfio
  • Senior Researcher, Urban Design and Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Liane Thuvander
  • Professor, Architectural Theory and Method, Architecture and Civil Engineering


Catharina Björk