International Cooperation in Urban Development
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Technische Universität Darmstadt (TU) is the host institution for the Mundus Urbano Consortium. The first year of the master’s programme is spent at TU Darmstadt and is followed by a mobility specialization undertaken at one of the consortium partners.
TU Darmstadt is one of the leading universities of technology in Germany. It was founded in 1877 and has a reputation of high standards and demanding studies. Its continuous efforts to further research and the level of teaching have been locally and internationally appreciated and confirmed by various rankings and recommendations. Besides aiming at educating and producing the best professionals, the university also offers a large variety of language courses, sports and cultural events. TU Darmstadt has an international student percentage of 21%, a considerably high percentage when compared to other German universities.
The Mundus Urbano programme is hosted at the TU-Darmstadt Architecture Faculty (FB15), situated in the campus Lichtwiese of the university. The programme is closely correlated with the Faculty’s urban planning and development institutions. The Faculty was the first German school of architecture and planning to offer specialized courses on planning and building in the developing world in 1971. To this day, it maintains specialised departments dedicated to the interdisciplinary topics of urban planning, design and development.
Full-time courses include workshops and lectures, taught by professors from TU Darmstadt and visiting lecturers. Students are evaluated in various formats, including group work and discussions; essay writing, and in oral individual or group presentations. Each year, opportunities to participate in local and/or international excursions are also available.
TU Darmstadt hosts the first year of the program. The curriculum is distributed in four modules, each one composed of six courses and one workshop. Each year, five of the six courses and the workshop are taught in each module. This keeps a certain flexibility within the programme. Thus there is a variation from year to year of the lecturers and courses that are taught, a main characteristic of the Mundus Urbano programme. The modules are described as follows:
Module 1 – Urban Planning
Course titles include: Introducing the SMART City, On the Move (mobility), Urban Planning and Building, Urban Ecology, and Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Planning.
Module 2 – Urban Development
Course titles include: The Spatial Bias: Slums and the Recursive History of Integral Urban Interventions, Participatory Planning and Design, Housing 2.0 (continuation of the previously mentioned course), Urbanisation and Infrastructures, Disaster Risk Management, Re-Construction Project Management (continuation of the previously mentioned course).
Module 3 – Urban Management
Course titles include: Urban Economics, Project Management.
Module 4 – International Cooperation
Course titles include: Urban Heritage Preservation, Urban Land Management, Fundamentals in Socio-Cultural Theory, Globalisation and its Discontent (continuation of the previously mentioned course).
* In addition to taking the above modules, students are also required to take two semester-long courses: The History of Urban Theory (Winter Semester) and Research Proposal Writing (Summer Semester).
** To fulfil their 60-credit course load for the first year, students also have the option to pursue elective courses such as language courses, excursions, design studios.
Living in Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a university town, conveniently located about 35km south of Frankfurt am Main. As the economic centre of Germany, Fankfurt is home to leading international agencies such as the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and German Development Bank (KfW). With excellent mobility connections to these and other institutions, Darmstadt is accessible by regional railway to the wider Rhein-Main region. Within the city, it also offers buses and trams. TU Darmstadt students have unlimited access to these local and regional transport networks with the use of their Semesterticket.
The TU Darmstadt International Academic Relations Office is the first reception for foreign students and also organizes socializing events for them. The Faculty of Architecture hosts a small cafeteria organized by the students, called Café Kuhle, which is located in the central hall of the faculty and is a natural meeting point for students.
The housing market is relatively tight in Darmstadt due to the high proportion of students in the city’s population. It is advisable to secure a place to live in September, before the start of the programme, when an optional German intensive course is offered. Students can seek assistance in finding a place to live in institutions such as the housing office of the student union (Studentenwerk), websites with flat-sharing offers (e.g. WG-Gesucht), the municipal housing association (HEAG Wohnbau), and the Catholic student community (Katholische Hochschulgemeinde).
The first year at TU Darmstadt aims to provide an adequate foundation in international cooperation and urban development as well as professional and academic knowledge required to address steadily increasing needs in these fields. The course is innovative in its transdisciplinary set-up and arranges knowledge around emerging global phenomena rather than on purely academic frameworks.