Independent Design and Construction: How Architecture Students Learn

July 4, 2024

From the lecture hall to the construction studio: This marks the beginning of the Architecture and Urban Planning study program at the University of Stuttgart. Inspired by 500 years of architectural construction systems, students design and build their own sustainable construction project. The result is twelve load-bearing systems made of wood, which are now on display in Vaihingen.
[Picture: Patrick Schneider, IBK]

Architects and urban planners only work on designs and prefer to leave the building to others?  Not a chance! Students at the University of Stuttgart put their plans into practice from early in the course, gaining extensive practical knowledge with guidance from their lecturers. "Our teaching provides students with hands-on, practical experience right from the beginning of their studies," says Prof. Jens Ludloff from the Chair of Sustainability, Building Construction and Design. "If we teach like this, the "building transition" could still succeed."

In the "Building Construction and Sustainability" module, 164 students learn about the world of building construction in the first and second semesters. The "build your own" project draws inspiration from 500 years of architectural and cultural history and around 40 buildings in Stuttgart. For the "build your own" projects, resource-saving construction methods from building history—such as plank trusses, Zollinger constructions, and lever-rod structures—serve as sources of inspiration, which are then further developed into unique, independent constructions. The result is resource-efficient, lightweight umbrella supports that could play a significant role in the sustainable construction of the future.  

Students at the university must actively engage with practical projects. Lecturers from the Institute of Building Construction are always on hand to provide expert advice.

Working in teams of 15, the students developed their designs based on their analyses and planned their implementation in the first semester. Then came the construction phase in the second semester: Within just three days, they erected twelve support systems made exclusively from wood - called "umbrella supports" in reference to their shape.

Each of the twelve umbrella supports is characterized by an individual design. They are up to four meters high and made exclusively from wood.

The project began on Campus City Center. There, the students prepared the first elements for the actual construction. This also made it easier to manage the rather unusual transportation by S-Bahn to the construction site in Vaihingen.

The students set to work, equipped with a saw, cordless screwdriver and meterstick. The project was completed after three intensive days of construction.

Then came the final load test. The aim was to design the load-bearing supports in such a way that they could each bear at least 200 kilograms of point loads. But the umbrella supports also have to withstand strong storms.

Load tests with sandbags show how much the structure bends under load. This provides information about the stability and load-bearing capacity of the statics.

The experimental constructions can now be viewed in an exhibition at CIRCULEUM - a social start-up by the Kreativhaltig planning office and the Stuttgarter Jugendhaus Gesellschaft. On the site in Ruppmannstraße in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, they form an open spatial structure for art, culture and encounters. Everyone is invited to come and see for themselves.

At an inauguration ceremony on June 17, the students and lecturers handed over the umbrella supports to the CIRCULEUM. They are now open to the public and provide a space for art, culture and encounters.

About the Architecture and Urban Planning study program

Architects have the task of preserving, designing and enhancing urban spaces and landscapes for a future worth living in. They respond to continuous change and develop ideas for the future. Sustainable building materials, robotic production processes and innovative, resource-efficient construction methods are playing an increasingly important role. At the University of Stuttgart, students learn about artistic, technical, historical and social aspects of building right from the start of their studies and put theory into practice in design and project work.

Study Compass Architecture & Urban Planning


Fachlicher Kontakt: Prof. Jens Ludloff, Universität Stuttgart, Lehrstuhl für Nachhaltigkeit, Baukonstruktion und Entwerfen am Institut für Baukonstruktion (IBK), Tel.: +49 711 685 82910, E-Mail

This image shows Jacqueline Gehrke

Jacqueline Gehrke




University Communications

Keplerstraße 7, 70174 Stuttgart

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