Calling out to all the Willy Wonkas of modern times, the contemporary  Joy Division’s, JG Ballard’s, Marie Curie’s and Rauschenberg’s, action researchers and designers, mythologists and makers of new worlds! With the aim of teaching students how to engineer situations, to design experiences and events to best support social dreaming, social actions and power shifts within institutions, companies and governments; the world’s first University of the Underground, based in the underground of the urban space, promotes unconventional collages of references, interdisciplinary practices, chaos and experimentations at the start of any creative processes. The University of the Underground is free to its students providing them with scholarships to cover their tuition.

The University of the Underground is hosted at the Sandberg Instituut and located in London in the Village Underground and in Amsterdam in De Marktkantine. It provides an accredited Master of the Arts (MA Design of Experiences). The Sandberg’s Instituut is the postgraduate programme of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. The University of the Underground is established as a foundation in Amsterdam, composed of a multidisciplinary team as part of its advisory board, guest tutors and teaching team. It is directed and managed by Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios Ltd in London at the Village Underground.

We take 15 students every two years for classes in Amsterdam and London (to start with). The applications are now closed for 2017-2019. Next round of applications will be in 2019.


The University of the Underground currently provides a Master programme in Design of Experiences. It is concerned with a contemporary and strategic foresight implying politics, sustainability, institutions, new technologies and scientific developments both in Artificial Intelligence and in the current digital ecosystems. It makes innovative use of design, linguistic, experiential, mythological, political, musical and film practices as tools to engage members of the public with the experiences and the debates created.

The University of the Underground is lead by a multidisciplinary team of ‘dreamers of the day’, who believe that a positive inspiration and disturbance to the current cultural and educative system is required to best support the young generations in their creative and political endeavours. This university is bold, ambitious, and unapologetic.

The University of the Underground exists at the nexus between critical design, experiential, theatrical, film, semiotics, political and musical practices and it results in the Design of Experiences.

The University of the Underground lives in the undergrounds within a hidden network of urban spaces. It supports forms of deviance in creativity, the non-established and the unconventional. Revolutionary practices, theatre of cruelties and musical concerts are celebrated as we manufacture countercultures, radios, pirates utopias and experiences for power shifts.

The University of the Underground develop Unconventional Research Practices that are aiming to provide Ph.Ds and research laboratories in the close future. The programme therefore emphasize research, critical theories and context within students’ practices.


In the University of the Underground we believe that it is most urgent to equip young designers with the learning that allows them to use their knowledge of the material world within the navigation of governmental systems, institutions and power structures. We are concerned with the modelling and physical existence of students’ dreams, beliefs and myths. We believe in social dreaming becoming the fuel for social actions. In the punk tradition we believe that there are no more heroes and we wish to democratise the experience of the institution. If nothing else, experiences and events make you feel alive and connected to the world around you. Music can do just that, but many other artistic forms too, and it is within this realm that we experiment with in the University of the Underground.

Students have rarely before been finally provided the tools and means to learn to understand their profession as the increasingly multi-facetted and malleable role it assumes in today’s world (which is ever changing and disorienting) – where designers enter the realm of authors, directors, politicians, planners, dreamers, activists, mythologists and musicians. We encourage students to use their own voice, style, tone and aesthetics as manifested in final outcomes of performative product scenarios, products embedded in the context of the built environment and the institutions, or the tangible experience and its implications now and in the coming years.


The University of the Underground is composed of creative soldiers, pirates, hidden creative agents of change, the Willy Wonkas of modern times, the contemporary Velvet Underground’s, The Smiths’ and the Joy Division’s, action researchers and designers, mythologists and makers of new worlds, living below ground in the underground and connected above while surveying from space.

As such we are looking for bold, very hard working and engaged students ready to jump on the rollercoaster and to experiment with various teaching disciplines in order to develop meaningful unexpected experiences. We encourage our students to challenge the rules of design by developing a performative, political and hybrid critical design practice with a philosophical existential attitude.


The University of the Underground responds to the current trend of increased fees for postgraduate programmes by firstly proposing a model in which students are provided with scholarships to cover their tuition fees. The University of the Underground is making steps towards a new, ambitious model for financing education. In the near future scholarships are to be provided to students through the support of philanthropists and donations (80%) and governmental grants (20%). The goal being to create many more of these educative structures worldwide on that basis 80%, 20%. We are fundraising as we speak and we will keep doing so in order to maintain our Foundation and the scholarships we offer our students. The funds will also be used to develop abroad and grow our research practices and activities such as live events.