Interns walking in the footsteps of the grand masters of architecture

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This spring, Dorte Mandrup’s 14 interns packed their totes, sharpened their pencils and embarked on a journey through Europe to walk in the footsteps of the Grand Masters of Architecture. Because desk research alone does not make a good architect.

Spending time visiting and studying architecture in real life is a central part of the architectural education. In order to understand buildings, it is important to actually feel, see and move around them, which is exactly what we do at Dorte Mandrup. Study trips are an integral part of interning at the studio, and during the last six months, the 14 international interns have been on several excursions. They’ve visited sites in Denmark, Sweden and, most recently, Switzerland, Germany and France. Dorte Mandrup partly finance the grand tour but the planning is up to the interns. For this round, they chose Basel as their starting point because of northern Switzerland’s high density of great architecture. The beautiful historic city was their first stop, from which they cherry-picked important buildings from the surrounding area. Their list of sites ended up being both long and wide-ranging, taking them to buildings they’ve all read about in history books and studied as references; buildings everyone should get the chance to experience in their formative years as an architect.

“When you see buildings in person, you get to experience them on so many different levels, both visually and emotionally. You get to see the details of the building, the site that it’s in. You can see it in photos, but it is always going to be different than your expectations. So, it feels very important,” says one of our architectural interns, Ariel Scholten from the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, who has worked at Dorte Mandrup since January 2019.


Worldwide perspectives

The interns at Dorte Mandrup come from all over the world. They were brought up in different cultures and have studied at different schools. Taking part in everyday life at the studio, going on site visits, designing and building models, they’ve all had the opportunity to develop a unique perspective on a project. Luckily, when formed opinions meet, new opinions form:

 “Some schools teach you to appreciate some kinds of architecture and dislike other. But, because we come with these predefined opinions, to end up in a place looking at the real buildings that you’ve been studying and then arguing with your co-workers, it becomes a very educational experience,” says Zhenia Dementyeva from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, USA, who has worked at Dorte Mandrup since February 2019.

Even though the languages spoken at the office at Vesterbrogade 95 varies from Russian to Swedish, it doesn’t complicate the conversations. In fact, when you mix ambitious people from all over the world in one workplace, you see an exponential growth in opportunity and ideas. This also extends to when you stand in a grassy field discussing Le Corbusier, Kengo Kuma and Zaha Hadid.

“It was really interesting getting new perspectives and seeing everyone’s take based on their education. In conversations you end up having a richer experience because you talk to someone who has a different perspective than you do – it really broadens your own perspective on architecture.” Ariel Scholten sums up.


Currently, there are 14 interns at Dorte Mandrup. They come from Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Brazil, China and America.  Dorte Mandrup partly finances the study trip, but the planning is up to the interns.
This year the choice fell on Basel because of its high density of both new and modern architecture. The trip lasted five days in April and these are the sites they visited:

Vitra Campus by Frank Gehry, Saha Hadid, SANAA and many more. Weil am Rhein, Germany.

The Fondation Beyeler by Renzo Piano. Basel, Switzerland.

Swissbau by Herzog & de Meuron. Basel, Switzerland.

Signal Box by Herzog & de Meuron. Basel, Switzerland.

Notre Dame du Haut by le Corbusier. Ronchamp, France.

Kunstmuseum Basel Neubau by Christ & Gantenbein. Basel, Switzerland.

Museum der Kulturen Basel by Herzog & de Meuron. Basel, Switzerland.

Schaulager Art Center by Herzog & de Meuron. Basel, Switzerland.

Rolex Learning Centre by SANAA. Lausanne, Switzerland.

ArtLab by Kengo Kuma. Lausanne, Switzerland.                           


Read more about how to apply for an internship here