Our students came from...
Testimonials from former students
Paula Mariscal Romero, student at the Bruges Summer School of Architecture & Crafts in 2023, from Spain.
« This last month of July, I had the privilege of taking part in an exciting summer course on traditional architecture. This experience not only expanded my understanding of architecture but also provided me with the opportunity to explore my passion for building design and construction, drawing and it opened my view on so many fields of architecture.
The summer course covered a wide range of topics related to traditional architecture. From the history of architecture to the best ideas of traditional and sustainable design, each day was a deep dive into the world of building and architectural design. I also got to understand how traditional buildings work in the Flemish surroundings and learned about so many different cultures.
One of the highlights of this experience was the quality of the instructors and the diversity of my fellow course mates. The instructors were experienced builders, architects and craftsmen who shared their knowledge passionately and accessibly. Additionally, interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures enriched my perspectives and provided me with a global view of architecture.
Throughout the course, we had the opportunity to work on practical projects that challenged us to apply what we were learning. From drawing urban plans and understanding our environment to designing a building for the city of Bruges, each project pushed us to think creatively and effectively to solve architectural problems.
As a result of this summer course, I gained a deeper understanding of the fundamental principles of architecture and learned the importance of conserving our history and patrimony. I developed practical skills that I am confident will be valuable in my future academic and professional world. I learned to appreciate the importance of history in our cities, to defend traditional ways of building, to value the importance of craftsmanship, and I really developed my drawing and project skills.
In summary, my experience in the summer architecture course was an enriching adventure that allowed me to explore my passion for building design and construction. I am excited about what the future holds for me in the field of architecture and am grateful for this transformative experience. Ultimately, the summer course provided me with inspiration and confidence to continue pursuing my dream of becoming an architect. »
Deniz Erensoy, Student at the Bruges Summer School of Architecture & Crafts in 2023, from the UK.
« My month at La Table Ronde de l'Architecture’s summer school was a valuable and unique experience, and one that I am grateful to have been offered. The new skills, connections, wisdom and perspectives I gained in one month at this summer school could rival an entire year of university.
The approach was holistic in nature. I had expected to simply sleep in dorms and go to class every day but what I got was so much more. It was a taste of a different world and lifestyle altogether. My month was defined by a sense of harmony, curiosity and groundedness which was imbued in everything from spending time with fellow students to drawing a roof plan. Education came not only in the form of lectures, classes and field trips but also more subtly in the form of our way of life. As students, we enjoyed convivial communal living in a beautiful environment that inspires and elevates you, rather than weighing down on you like many of the educational institutions of today.
No task was ever forced on the students by Nadia Everard or Noé Morin. Nothing, from the timetable to how we use our time after/in-between lectures, ever felt rigid. We had freedom and yet we still chose to engage with enthusiasm. It was not strictly required of us but we did so simply out of an genuine eagerness to get involved. This was the true magic of the experience. It felt like the return of a lost art in education. There was an enjoyable spontaneity to non- school hours. Architects visiting from far and wide to give lectures or teach would be staying in the same building and would join the students in the common room after hours, engaging in invigorating conversations or giving informal lectures on things they were passionate about.
My fellow students were diverse in background, age, aspiration and opinion which in itself made for good conversations, new connections and unlikely friendships (and food recipes).
The type of architectural wisdom this course provides is unique and a rarity in our day. Important and overlooked flaws in modern construction and design were brought to my attention and presented from an entirely new perspective. The level of in-depth expertise of the teachers is vast and far removed from your typical architect or university teacher. Small details and common misconceptions that usually go unaddressed are given proper attention and equip students with a kind of wisdom that other aspiring architects are unlikely to discover without similar guidance from seasoned masters in traditional architecture and crafts.
The skills I was able to develop and hone over the course of a month were also invaluable. In a matter of weeks, my ability to draw a freehand urban plan in my sketchbook while on- site improved drastically. The same goes for my confidence in sketching, be it for measured or freehand architectural studies.
I left Bruges with a set of skills and knowledge that I completely lacked before going in (despite a year’s worth of studying urban design at university). This is proof that these programs are not merely helpful but also necessary and supporting them allows society to slowly normalise and embrace the value of a traditional approach to architecture and crafts such that it can eventually be integrated into mainstream education.»
Alex Peacock, student at the Bruges Summer School of Architecture & Crafts in 2023, from Ireland.
« We had fascinating lectures almost every day from talented and noteworthy visiting architects, craftsmen, and architectural thinkers. Within only a few weeks an absolutely impressive roster of figures had visited to lecture and join us on our walks and tours in Bruges and surrounding places of interest. All of the guest lecturers were genuinely very enthusiastic, smart, thoughtful, and helpful people, concerned with the practice of architecture and actually teaching the students.
Our sketch tours in the city of Bruges were brilliant; together as a group each morning we would have breakfast together and get the train, for free, to Bruges, where we would walk through the beautiful city in the morning to meet our lecturers. Typically, we would visit a series of interesting buildings, observing them, sketching them, and learning about their history. We would walk between the locations, through the streets of Bruges, getting the opportunity to chat with the lecturers, and we would all have lunch together in the pleasant restaurants and cafes of Bruges. During our study visits, we would draw plans, measured drawings, details and sections of notable and modest buildings of our choice. In the evenings, we would all go for dinner and drinks in Bruges, then get the train back to Bellem Castle. We worked on our projects, the designs for various new traditional buildings in Bruges, for an intensive week, and then presented our work to an esteemed jury at the “Great Estival Celebration”.
The Bruges Summer School has doubtless been the most important thing I have ever done; the world and community I have entered, is exactly the profession I would like to progress in, and the lifelong contacts and friends I have made in various companies and cities is utterly invaluable. The summer school is a great network which will be of immense help throughout the rest of my career. »
Tarini Sharma, student at the Bruges Summer School of Architecture & Crafts in 2023, from India.
« The Bruges Summer School has taught me a lot. I came to the school with a casual curiosity about traditional architecture and left with a profound love for it. From the very beginning, I was encouraged to question everything I had already been taught and look at things in a new light. This made me discover so many new things about tradition, material, culture, and society. My conversations with Noé Morin helped open my mind to a different kind of future for architecture, and I loved exchanging book and movie recommendations that consisted of some very thought-provoking suggestions. Nadia Everard was a great mentor and friend. She taught me so much in such a short span of time and if it was possible I would spend every summer learning more from her. Nadia’s love for traditional architecture and desire to bring about a change in the built environment built up such an exciting atmosphere within the school. She was there every step of the way to answer all my questions and help with every drawing. In fact, every mentor, teacher, architect, craftsman, and artisan who came to the school left behind such an impact. They were all very eager to help and share knowledge and would stay with us from morning to night at times to work on our projects. The school has really helped me decide what I want to do next in my architectural journey and provided me with the confidence and support I need to go out into the architectural world. I am very grateful to have been a part of this community and will continue to remember this experience for the rest of my life. »
Christopher C. Davis, student of the Bruges Summer School of Architecture & Crafts in 2023, from the UK.
" The week ‘The Art of Gothic Architecture’ was spent in and around Bruges, and was a most valuable insight into the development of Flemish Gothic. It proved to be a wonderful opportunity to study traditional design in a scholarly environment with enthusiastic and like-minded people from around the world.
Two days were spent undertaking detailed investigation of the construction and design of some of the medieval and revival Gothic buildings in Bruges, on a large scale and in detail. This involved observational drawing as well as the measuring and recording of smaller elements. As a new visitor to Bruges, understanding the character of the place through the examination of the local architectural language was fascinating - especially comparing and contrasting the Flemish Gothic school with those I am more familiar with England, France and Italy.
Consideration was given to the pattern of the evolution of the medieval city. Looking at this in the wider context of contemporary trading patterns – namely of wool - was of particular interest, especially as this is manifested in the shared vernacular of the nearest regions of England such as East Anglia, which had significant exposure to Flemish culture in the medieval period, and vice versa.
A further day was spent at Loppem Castle, which as a 'total work of art' is considered a masterpiece of Gothic Revival design in Belgium. Spending time sketching and measuring is undoubtedly the best way to learn about how these buildings are created.
We also made a visit to Ghent, where we studied the development of the urban plan and some further buildings constructed in the C14th and C19th. Nadia, Noe, Patrick and Ric were incredibly insightful teachers and each were fountains of knowledge; it was a joy to spend time studying architecture in their company.
As with many aspects of traditional architecture, the study of geometry and proportion is often neglected in modern architectural education. Although in practice it is straightforward to use a computer for geometric constructions, a deeper understanding of hand-drawn techniques and their proportional relationships is indispensable in the understanding of traditional forms.
The days were also interspersed with debates and discussions regarding the retrospective philosophy and theory behind medieval design as developed by Ruskin, Morris and others. The course was an excellent and rare environment in which to be able to converse in such detail with others, and to truly delve into the Gothic spirit. There is no doubt that what has been learnt will be of great use to all attendees as they pursue their future endeavours."
Nikolai Brummer, student at the Bruges Summer School of Architecture & Crafts in 2023, from Finland.
« I spent five weeks at La Table Ronde de l’Architecture summer school. To me this was an important step towards my dream of studying architecture and one day built beautiful places.
The courses opened my eyes and I will never forget what I learned there. I now understand what makes architecture beautiful and durable and on the opposite side, I see what makes most of modern constructions so ugly and obsolete. Although I have lived all my life in the same city, Helsinki, I now notice and appreciate its architecture details like never before. That is something natural with traditional buildings, you always see something new, a door, a window, an ornament or even a material shade, that you have never noticed although you have looked at that building hundreds of times. The traditional architecture of Bruges will always be beautiful and, as it ages, it will charm us all the more (if it is maintained with love). Something I have not thought of or noticed before are for example the brick bond used in the masonry or the geometry of small gothic quatrefoil on façades. Drawing has also become more natural. Now my dear friend Alex Peacock, that I met during the summer school, and I are making simple tutorials on social media for people to learn how to make geometrical and gothic shapes, knowledge we got during the fifth week of the school.
It was wonderful meeting people who share similar ideas and a love for humane architecture. The friendships created during my time in Bruges, the amazing community I entered will always be part of me. »
Tasneem Zraikat, student at the Bruges Summer School of Architecture & Crafts in 2023, from Jordan.
« The time that I have spent at La Table Ronde de l’Architecture summer school in 2021 and 2023 has highly enriched my path as an architectural designer. With this enrichment came a feeling of arriving home to a place where everything that I have been learning makes sense.
The education we received was packed with immense theoretical and hands-on practical knowledge that had been passed down throughout the centuries. The most important lesson I learned while studying traditional architecture is that past models of practice contain a wealth of wisdom and innovation that are still relevant today. The modern idea that we need to place past models aside as artefacts and come up with new "innovations" based on very little foundational knowledge is misguided. There are already plenty of innovations that have withstood the test of time, some of which are yet to be re-explored and applied to present situations. I also learned that beauty and durability come hand in hand, and that beauty in itself is sustainable.
Nadia and Noe have been wonderful mentors and friends throughout the summer school. They are two of the most passionate, knowledgeable, and caring mentors when it comes to teaching and sharing what they know, which was done in a warm, fun, and nurturing environment where we also shared meals and thoughtful discussions. They have created an ever growing community that shares their passion, with teachers, craftsmen, and architects who came from all over the world and left us mesmerised with the knowledge and methods that they shared with us. I am so grateful for the friendships that I have formed during the summer school and to be part of such a beautiful community of students and experts who are all working towards a common good. »
Great Estival Celebration, July 29, 2023.