Thomas Heatherwick's Humanise campaign launches "joyful architecture" degree


British designer Thomas Heatherwick’s Humanise campaign is developing a master’s degree at Loughborough University, which aims to challenge conventional architecture education.

Set to start in autumn 2025, the degree is hoped to foster a generation of architects who will “inspire joyful architecture”, in line with the goals of the movement.

Heatherwick’s Humanise campaign was launched in October 2023 as a call for an end to “soulless and boring buildings”.

Loughborough University’s architecture school is the first academic institution to join forces with the initiative.

Course “symbolic of a sea change in architectural education”

“Loughborough has always been a pioneer and this new course is symbolic of a sea change in architectural education,” said global head of the Humanise campaign Abigail Scott Paul.

“It will challenge the rigidity and over-specialisation of so much teaching in the past and nurture a new generation of architects,” added Scott Paul.

“It has the potential to be a game-changer in our quest to create buildings that better serve people and the planet, and we’re thrilled to welcome Loughborough as a partner of the campaign.”

Currently funded by Heatherwick Studio, the campaign was developed off the back of the designer’s book Humanise, a Maker’s Guide to Building Our World. It aims to put Heatherwick’s ideas into action.

In an interview with Dezeen, the campaign’s director Matt Bell said the overarching aim is to encourage more people to care about the quality of architecture and our built environments.

Lectures will explore “the idea of emotion as a function of design”

“This campaign is trying to stem the tide and spark a public conversation about the way buildings make us feel,” Bell told Dezeen.

“Humanise is asking why so many places feel joyless and depressing, how did this happen and how can we start creating more buildings that last and are loved?” he said.

This collaboration follows a conference hosted by the Humanise initiative in March, in which a team from Loughborough University was involved.

Few details about the degree itself have been revealed, but the team behind it has said it will involve lectures and workshops that explore “the idea of emotion as a function of design”.

“We are tremendously excited by the opportunity to collaborate with Humanise,” said the architecture school’s professor Robert Schmidt.

“I think this initiative will benefit our students tremendously, opening up access to broader approaches and practical opportunities.”

The announcement is the latest issued by the campaign team since it kicked off in October.

Earlier this year, it created an image series depicting “boring alter-egos” of UK landmarks. Designed by creative agency Uncommon Creative Studio, the visuals offered alternative versions of British buildings including Buckingham Palace and Edinburgh Castle.

Shortly after the launch, Heatherwick picked 10 examples of 10 “humanised” buildings for Dezeen that he described as “givers rather than takers”.



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