An architectural education in Berlin has a tradition of more than 200 years. Ever since the Bauakademie was founded in 1799, teachers and students of its various institutions have been responsible for architectural education and have shaped the image of the city of Berlin as well as other major cities. Especially in the 1920s, these institutions have been places of intense confrontation between protagonists of progressive and traditional movements. The critical reflection toward the city and its architecture, as well as the question of new qualities of urban life and its forms of expression became more important. Both the Nazi regime and the Second World War intellectually and materially destroyed the basis of this progressive teaching and research, which was always committed to humanistic ideals.
After the re-inauguration of the Technische Universität in 1946, the Institute of Architecture could continue its commitments. It moved from the largely destroyed main building to the extension. Numerous professors of the school supported both the reconstruction of the city, as well as the facilities of the university. During the sixties, economic miracles and unconditional trust in progress made use of the theories of modernity and urban planning in particular, influencing the image of the city. However, the solidifying structures of university and society, but also the specific results of reconstruction, were increasingly criticized, for example, by the democratic student movement.
The relocation of the Institute of Architecture to the Architecture building at Ernst-Reuter-Platz, planned by Bernhard Hermkes and completed in 1968, marks the phase of the most violent political conflicts at the university and within Berlin’s society. In 1969, the low-rise building extension by Hans Sharoun initally planned for the Urban Planning Department was completed. In 1969, as a result of the student protests in 1968, the nine schools of the Technische Universität were divided into twenty-two departments. As a result, the chairs responsible for the architectural education were organized into three different departments: Social and Planning Sciences (Department 2, approx. 22%), Environmental Engineering (Department 21, approx. 14%) and the department for Building Design and Construction (Department 8, approx. 64%), which is primarily responsible for architectural education.
As in other educational institutions, the political discussions are extremely fierce.
Social, economic, and planning issues become more and more important topics in architectural education, while, partially, the theoretical discourse stands alone in the foreground. Architects are increasingly calling for its social and political responsibilities. Some teachers do not follow this change and therefore have left the university. At the same time, the number of students is increasing heavily. The university - and also the architectural education – is becoming a mass enterprise. While the Architecture building was originally planned for 600 students, there are already more than 1,000 students in the new building. In the 1990s, School VII with approximitely 2,500 students, was one of the largest of the TU.
The pictures of 1969/70 and 1988/89 are similar: Protests against poor education, demanding more co-determination, temporarily paralyzed the teaching practice. In 1993/94 the protests addressed the drastic austerity measures the universities were about to take.
New structural reforms are beginning today. The strong fragmentation of science sectors was only one reason to again reduce the number of basic organizational units. The Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Geosciences, for example, became School VI (Civil Engineering and Applied Geosciences), the Department of Environment and Society and the Department of Architecture became School VII (Architecture Environment Society).
Finally, in 2006 after completing the reorganization of the school, more than 20 chairs and institutions were merged. Despite major cuts in the number of academic staff and the loss of professorial chairs, it still guarantees the necessary specialist range of the architectural education with its various opinions and directions.
The introduction of the Bachelor degree in 2005 and the Master degree in 2008, introduced another transformation to the architectural education at Technische Universität Berlin. This reform was used by the school and the institute as an opportunity, on the one hand, to offer new fields of specialization, and at the same time, to develop new, independent Master programs. This includes, for example, the nationwide unique Master programs Urban Design and Architecture Typology. Many lecturers and more and more students come to the TU Berlin from abroad. Thus, as a result, many courses and especially design projects are taught in English.
In the face of dramatic economic and social change in all regions of the world, contributing to the renewal and development of architecture and the city in Europe, but also providing decent housing and living conditions especially in the countries of the South, are important topics that need to be addressed again.