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Architecture d’intérieur
HEAD - Genève
Institute for Postnatural Studies. A Green Jade Lake, Centro Cibeles Madrid, 2021 - © Asier Rua

MAIA – Master of Arts in Interior Architecture

Decentring the Human 

From simple greenhouses to botanic facilities and from data centres to automated interiors, never before in history has architecture produced so many interiors for the non-human, challenging disciplinary notions on tectonics, light, comfort and entire regulatory frameworks. Once designed for and with the human, contemporary interiors have instead become exponentially complex materialisations where the politics of our present moment are played out. Ultimately, who are they for?

Titled Decentring the Human, the full-time, four-semester Master of the Arts in Interior Architecture (MAIA) at HEAD – Genève is a research-oriented graduate programme exploring the entanglements between interior spaces, environments and media through successive decentralisation: from the old totalitarianism that humans have built amongst themselves for centuries (inclusivity) to their position in relation to non-humans (ecology), and finally their relation to machines and their output, both real and virtual (technology).

The programme calls for a vision where the non-human will be central, empowering the agency of traditionally obliterated actors. This involves not only solutions to environmental challenges, but above all the study of the ecosystemic relations between non-living and living organisms (including humans) which is crucial for the discipline of interior architecture.

MAIA: Curriculum
The programme is structured over 4 semesters:

MAIA 1 – Glossaries: A-, In-, Post-, More-than-Human Interiors

MAIA 1 explores the glossaries that have come to characterise our contemporary time. From the Anthropocene to the Capitalocene, and exploring endless iterations of the Post-, In-, A-, More-than-Human, this semester envisions a new environmental thinking that removes the possibility of understanding interior architecture, and the human, as autonomous and self-determined. This research-oriented semester is shaped by four autonomous studio tracks that deal with themes of Animals, Plants, Machines, and Humans.

MAIA 2 – Assemblages: Ecosystemic Interiors

MAIA 2 bypasses traditional dualisms between architecture for human/non-human, focusing on the entanglements between organisms and the interior environments with which they interact. This semester applies concepts related to ecological and computational fields such as biodiversity, metapopulations, trophic levels or the metaverse, among others, to reposition interior architecture as a discipline. This semester is practice-oriented, articulated around a core studio shaping the classes’ presence at the Salone del Mobile, in Milan.

MAIA 3 – Iterations: Endless Decentralisations

MAIA 3 celebrates interior architecture as a field of emancipation of any form of species domination or spatial, physical and virtual centrality. Students produce endless iterations and samples of interiors in the plural, developing their own glossaries on the interconnected condition of the technologies, networks and ecologies that define contemporary interiors. The semester is research-oriented, focusing on the core competencies of writing, editing, curating and research. Students set up their individual graduation track which will be further developed in semester 4.

MAIA 4 – Diploma: Decentring-the-Human

The final semester of MAIA is centred around the elaboration of the final graduation project of each student. A core studio shapes the semester, complemented by core-skills seminars that will help shape students’ post-graduate life.

* The language of the MA is English, with some classes in French.

HEAD - HEPIA. Archipelago Architectures, Geneva. 2021 © HEAD - Genève. Michel Giesbrecht

MAIA: Professional Projects

MAIA students regularly work in cooperation with designers on professional projects carried out together with institutions, leading to a professional career of international impact. Similarly, the department is visible at international exhibitions and on platforms, such as the Salone del Mobile in Milan or Design Parade in Toulon. The programme includes permanent cooperation with the Joint Master of Architecture (JMA) of the schools of Geneva, Fribourg and Burgdorf, and with École Camondo in Paris. The 2022-2024 programme will actively collaborate with Volume Magazine.

* MAIA enables its graduates to apply for registration on the Professional Register of Swiss Architects (REG A, Interior Architecture).

Herbarium of Interiors: A Milk Bar. HEAD MAIA with India Mahdavi & Youri Kravtchenko. Alcova Milan 2021 © HEAD – Genève, Michel Giesbrecht
Herbarium of Interiors – Studio Youri Kravtchenko 2019 – HEAD MAIA © HEAD – Genève, Julien Gremaud