Adaptive Reuse. Exploring Spatial Potentialities & the Poetics of the Existing
International Master of Interior Architecture
The faculty of Architecture and Arts welcomes applications for an innovative international master’s program in interior architecture with a strong focus on adaptive reuse.
It is safe to assume that (interior) architects will have to deal increasingly with the transformation and adaptation of the built environment. Today, the role of architecture is being redefined due to demographic, economic and ecological challenges. Transition and reuse take center stage in the practice and theory of the profession. This academic master’s program is innovative as it considers preservation through the act of adaptive reuse instead of mere conservation and restoration.
Rather than relying on an archaeological perspective, it emphasizes a designerly approach as to give new and unexpected energy to buildings. Therefore, the program seeks to train students who explore and activate the rich potential of existing sites through design supported by research and theory.
Ideally positioned in a region full of historical sites with various identities (cultural, artistic, religious and industrial), the faculty is in close geographic proximity to a rich laboratory of potential cases that span 600 years. Students are taught to conceive of these sites as palimpsests rather than monuments. Subsequently, they are encouraged to explore the beauty, memory, hidden qualities and broader potentialities of the sites handed down by our predecessors.
Finally, the master’s program departs from the conventional understanding of the ‘interior’ as a quantifiable spatial category by underlining its richer artistic and ethical dimensions as Public Interior.
The one-year master’s program consists of three major components: design studio, theory module, and master thesis/ project.
The design studio focuses on the study, transformation, and adaptation of existing buildings and sites. Representative examples could be, for example: transforming a 17th-century monastery, a concrete office tower of 1970, or a 19th-century prison with a panoptical plan.
During this process, there is considerable attention paid to heritage value, atmospheric qualities, construction details, and spatial characteristics that are no longer appropriate for new buildings. In this context, two research seminars hinge on the design studio and the theory module.
One seminar concentrates on reading spaces by means of various techniques such as hand drawing and photography. The other seminar explores the changing meanings of spaces, as their functions are transformed. In this way, the program explores both the material and immaterial values of the built environment.
The theory module introduces students to the emerging frame of reference related to adaptive reuse by studying relevant texts and recent case studies. It also offers relevant historical knowledge regarding the function of interiors, their spatial, ornamental and conceptual potential. Obviously, special attention is also paid to specific technical and material aspects.
The master’s project and thesis conclude the program, consisting of a personal and original work of design on an existing building and its surroundings. Students will be invited to consider sites that are part of ongoing research projects but may also propose sites from their own home countries.
The international master of Interior Architecture focuses on bachelors or masters in Architecture and/or Interior Architecture with a strong interest in adaptive reuse.
Hasselt University will assess students individually on the basis of their previous academic record and qualifications. General requirements imply diploma requirements and language requirements. The Examination Board of the program evaluates each application individually with regard to the applicant’s academic record. Depending on previous qualifications, you may have to complete a preparatory or bridging program.
Holders of a foreign degree should send a portfolio together with their application file.
- Holders of (at least) an academic bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture.
- Holders of a foreign degree that is equivalent to a Flemish degree in Interior Architecture and that has been awarded after at least 180 ECTS credits (or three years of full-time study) at a university or institute of higher education.
- Applicants holding a foreign academic bachelor’s or master’s degree in Architecture can apply but might have to complete a preparation program that is tailored to their specific background before they can be admitted to the master's program.
Admitted conditionally via a preparation or bridging program:
- Applicants holding a Flemish academic bachelor’s or master’s degree in Architecture will have to complete a preparation program which consists of 39 ECTS credits maximum.
- Holders of a non-academic bachelor degree in Interior Architecture will have to complete a preparation or bridging program which consists of 48 ECTS credits maximum.
The program is strongly embedded in the ongoing research on adaptive reuse taking place at the Faculty of Architecture and Arts, Hasselt University. Our ambition is to actively involve the international students in this research.
Ongoing and finished doctoral research on adaptive reuse deals with very diverse typologies such as mining sites, monasteries, and churches, as well as post-war detached houses. While research is always related to design output, we develop potential strategies and programs for buildings and sites without ready-made answers. This is the case when, for instance, a building is a listed monument and its reuse would imply strong spatial adaptations. Finally, we analyze the material and immaterial qualities of sites, especially when the latter reveals exceptional atmospheric conditions that are valuable in the transition process.
More generally, the research conducted at our faculty centres around architecture, interior architecture and visual arts. The faculty hosts about sixty researchers and it is a partner of PXL-MAD, a school of art that offers international master’s programs in Object & Jewellery, Art Sense(s) Lab and Reading Type & Typography.
Program taught in: