Calling out to all the Willy Wonkas of modern times, the contemporary  Joy Division’s, JG Ballard’s, Marie Curie’s and Rauschenberg’s, action researchers and designers, mythologists and makers of new worlds! With the aim of teaching students how to engineer situations, to design experiences and events to best support social dreaming, social actions and power shifts within institutions, companies and governments; the world’s first University of the Underground, lives in the undergrounds within a hidden network of urban spaces. It supports forms of deviance in creativity, the non-established and the unconventional. Revolutionary practices, theatre of cruelties and musical concerts are celebrated as we manufacture countercultures, radios, pirates utopias and experiences for power shifts.

The University of the Underground is providing students with scholarships to cover their tuitions and members of the public with series of live events, podcasts and experimental editorial content. The University of the Underground is hosted at the Sandberg Institute, the postgraduate programme of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, and located in London in the Village Underground and in Amsterdam in De Marktkantine. It provides an accredited Master of the Arts (MA Design of Experiences). The University of the Underground is established as a foundation in Amsterdam, composed of a multidisciplinary team, ‘dreamers of the day’ as a part of its advisory board, guest tutors and teaching team. 

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In the University of the Underground we believe that it is most urgent to equip young designers with the learning that allows them to use their knowledge of the material world within the navigation of governmental systems, institutions and power structures. We are concerned with the modelling and physical existence of students’ dreams, beliefs and myths. We believe in social dreaming becoming the fuel for social actions. In the punk tradition we believe that there are no more heroes and we wish to democratise the experience of the institution. If nothing else, experiences and events make you feel alive and connected to the world around you. Music can do just that, but many other artistic forms too, and it is within this realm that we experiment with in the University of the Underground.

Students have rarely before been finally provided the tools and means to learn to understand their profession as the increasingly multi-facetted and malleable role it assumes in today’s world (which is ever changing and disorienting) – where designers enter the realm of authors, directors, politicians, planners, dreamers, activists, mythologists and musicians. We encourage students to use their own voice, style, tone and aesthetics as manifested in final outcomes of performative product scenarios, products embedded in the context of the built environment and the institutions, or the tangible experience and its implications now and in the coming years. 

The University of the Underground develop Unconventional Research Practices that are aiming to provide Ph.Ds and research laboratories in the close future. The programme therefore emphasize research, critical theories and context within students’ practices.

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Partners in Crime

The University of the Underground is led by a multidisciplinary team of ‘dreamers of the day’, who believe that a positive inspiration and disturbance to the current cultural and educative system is required to best support the young generations in their creative and political endeavours. This university is bold, ambitious and unapologetic.

We take 15 to 17 students every two years for classes in Amsterdam and London (to start with). The applications are now closed for 2017-2019. Next round of applications will be in 2019. 

The University of the Underground is based in London in the Village Underground and in Amsterdam in De Marktkantine (open 24 hours). It is managed by Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios Ltd and the Sandberg Instituut.

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