University of the Underground in the selection of seven 'Independent Thinking' schools by Metropolis magazine

April 11 2017

University of the Underground was featured as one of the seven educational initiatives around the world that promote independent thinking and tackles issues that existing institutions are not able to address. 

Read the full article here. Words by Vera Sacchetti

In Europe and the U.S., initiatives addressing architecture and design education are primarily targeting the elitist and exclusive universe of postgraduate education, including architect Peter Zellner’s Free School of Architecture and experience designer Nelly Ben Hayoun’s University of the Underground (UoU), launching this year. Providing an MA degree thanks to its partnership with Amsterdam’s Sandberg Instituut, the UoU boasts free enrollment and a subversive approach that, according to its founder, aims to form an army of “creative soldiers who can challenge institutions and power structures positively.” The experiment positions itself at the crossroads between disciplines, understanding design as a multifaceted activity that can disrupt power structures. “In the University of the Underground, 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 democratize the experience of the institution,” Ben Hayoun says—indeed, all its guest tutors and teachers are nonacademics.


“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,” says experience designer Nelly Ben Hayoun, who is spearheading the launch of the University of the Underground (UoU) with a master’s program this year. Eighty percent of each student’s tuition will be funded by philanthropists, and the rest will be covered by grants from the government of the Netherlands. This year’s class will have 15 students (the next round of admissions will be in 2019), and they will encounter a radically different pedagogical program from what they’d find at most design schools. “Revealing power structures in order to possibly modify them is at the core of our teaching practice in the university,” Ben Hayoun says. “We focus on linguistics as much as we do on creative and experiential practices.”

Read the full article here. Words by Vera Sacchetti

For 35 years, Metropolis has been the architecture and design industry’s most compelling storyteller. Metropolis’ s editorial scope spans design at all scales—from the smallest products to city planning. Metropolis has always sought out, and featured, the game changers in the industry, from emerging talent to established individuals and organisations. And each issue contains stories that link design to evolving cultural trends, from big data to the maker movement. Our readers expect us to take them behind the scenes and share innovations, reveal breakthrough processes, and keep them ahead of the curve.