Critical Concrete and the Escola Superior Artistica do Porto (ESAP) joined forces to provide a novel learning experience with a focus on sustainability. As a result, field experts impart courses in topics like sustainable construction methods, natural building, just urban development, social project management and effective participatory processes. We are proud to say we achieved to bring together a group of enthusiastic and dedicated instructors who are excited to guide you through this year of transformative education.
Hybrid methodology of online courses & practical construction workshops in Porto, Portugal
Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Architecture issued by ESAP
Curricular Credits: 60 ECTS
Duration: October 2022 – July 2023
Tuition Fee: 2,708€
The Sustainable-Sustainable Architecture postgraduate programme is structured in two semesters and fully taught in English. The learning methodology includes a hybrid format of interdisciplinary online courses and practical workshops in Porto (Portugal). The programme combines 90 hours of theoretical lectures (online) with 210 hours of hands-on-experience focusing on practices that consider the layered dimensions of urban sustainability. During the workshops, students will co-design and collaborate in the construction process of local projects in Northern Portugal. In past editions, students have refurbished houses for low-income families, intervened in public spaces, and experimented with a solar water heater incorporated in a facade. You can expect to be involved in projects of this nature during your workshops.
Online Learning & Theory
Online Courses are delivered through our platform Criti.co. They combine theoretical input, interactive communication tools and hands-on assignments – where applicable. Each course will cover a specific topic, their duration varies between 4 to 8 weeks and the workload requires about 10-15 hours commitment per week. Courses are released in a staggered schedule throughout each semester to spread the workload and live elements.
The practical workshops are the heart of the post-graduation programme. It includes a workshop every semester, each with a 3 week duration. This gives the students an opportunity to translate the input from the online-courses into real hands-on and social practice. Within the framework of Critical Concrete’s upcoming projects, the students will participate in the co-design process with the inhabitants. The process will be moderated by our team.
The program aims to set up a conceptual base for an ecological and social approach to architecture and urbanism. Upon completion of the programme, students will enhance their competencies in the following ways:
Ability to start and manage interdisciplinary construction projects
Gain awareness of the need to change conventional building and designing methods/techniques.
Understanding of principles and strategies for environmentally friendly construction
Acquire knowledge and practice on diverse methods that are ecologically conscious, using natural building materials, as well as low-tech and low-waste applications.
Ability to recognize and apply vernacular construction techniques to contemporary needs.
Capacity to implement sustainable and inclusive design in architectural and construction projects.
Consciousness about the need for intersectional and inclusive approaches in neighborhood and city planning.
Understanding the need for bottom-up approaches and how to engage local populations and institutions.
Ability to empower communities through participatory design and increasing involvement for people at risk of social exclusion.
Acquire the necessary frameworks to run and fund a sustainable and/or social project.
Provides a focus on environmentally friendly and socially relevant approaches to building and (self-)construction by introducing low-tech solutions and circular economy logic.
Design & Construction Practices
Sustainable Construction Insights
Introduces natural materials that can be applied in architecture to substitute harmful materials in structure, insulation, finishing and treatment.
Building with Raw Earth
Takes a look at urban practices and approaches to answer the current environmental and climate emergencies.
Sustainable Urban Food Systems
Water & the Politics of Infrastructure
Asks the question what sustainability means in the societal dimension of architecture and cities in order to create a just habitat for all.
Militant Architecture & Social Movements
Trains the ability to disclose the potential and applicability of vernacular techniques to contemporary contexts.
Vernacular Architecture Today
Presents tools and strategies to empower communities and to confront biases and preconceptions.
Ethnography for Local Engagement
Introduction to Participatory Processes
Gives impulses on how to start and run a social project in an ethically moral manner while simultaneously being economically stable.
Ethical Leadership for Just Development
Translates the theoretical part into practical. Students will be taking contributing toward the construction of a real project with a social practice.
Laboratory I & II
An outstanding aspect of our programme is the fact that it brings together students and instructors from a very broad geographical, professional, and cultural background. Our instructors are experts in their fields and cover practical and theoretical experience ranging from architecture, urbanism, art, ethnography and social sciences.
Founder & Director
Architect & Postgraduate Director at ESAP
Anthropologist, lecturer at Paris Malaquais School of Architecture & founder of H+V/G studio
Architect + Urban Planner, mycelium researchers at Critical Concrete
Assistant Professor and Faculty Director of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware & Founder of Central Impact
Founder of STUDIO IN//stabil, lecturer at the University of Vienna and the Vienna Art School & co-founder of “The slowest Fast Food Restaurant in the World“
Meet three of our students from our 20/21 co-hort. Agnieska, Viviana and Helena joined during our first workshop in 2021 to refurbish a traditional house in Esposende, a little town north of Porto.
Watch the videos to get to know what they learned during the workshop and what they liked about their favourite online-courses.
Who can apply?
People with a university degree or professional experience in related fields (refer to FAQ 1). All applicants must be profficient in English.
We welcome all disciplines and backgrounds!
Students in the past years have had backgrounds in:
How do I apply?
Prospective students must apply through the application form and attach the necessary documentation during the application periods.
until 1st July 2022
(if places remain)
until 12th August 2022
(if places remain)
until 14th September
until 14th October
If you don't hold a Bachelor's degree but have years of experience in related fields to the postgraduation, you can apply with a professional curriculum. You must demonstrate effective learning that attests the acquisition of professional skills by providing a professional CV and/or portfolio for the ESAP's Scientific Council to evaluate your application.
The application process consists of the following steps:
1. Application Form:
Applicants must fill in their personal information and submit the required documentation:
Degree Certificates* (minimum Bachelor’s)
2. Application Evaluation:
Members of Critical Concrete and ESAP will evaluate applications on a roll-in basis. Admissions will be granted based on a ranking of your motivation, academic background, and professional experience.
An interview may be necessary if initial evaluation is not sufficient to distinguish you from other applicants.
3. Application Decision:
After reviewing applications, successful applicants will receive an admission email to join the programme. It is compulsory to pay a non-refundable application fee of 98€ to secure their place.
Upon receiving an admission letter, students are required to pay a 98€ application fee to secure their place.
Payments for ESAP administrative fees include: enrolment, registration and insurance (500€) and must be paid before the start of the course.
There are three modalities of payments of the programme fee (2110€):
Option 1: 10 monthly payments of 211€
Option 2: 2 payments of 1028.63€, before the start of each semester (includes a 2.5% discount)
Option 3: 1 payment of 2004.50€ (includes 5% discount) to be paid before the start of the programme.
The fee includes access to all theoretical courses in the Criti.co platform, participation in the practical workshops with vegan lunch on site, and administrative support.
The fee does not include travel costs to Porto from your place of residence, accommodation during the workshop, meals offsite, nor health insurance.
You’ll need to show proof of your health insurance to participate in the hands-on workshop.
We have had students successfully complete the course whilst working full time. However, it is important for you to consider the following:
1. Live sessions will mostly happen during working hours in european timezones. You are strongly recommended to attend these sessions although they are all recorded for reference later.
2. Online courses combine pre-recorded video lectures, reading content, discussion forums, and weekly assignments. Students are expected to follow the recommended schedule of completion provided at the beginning of each semester.
3. The practical workshops happen once per semester for a duration of 3 weeks. We encourage you to discuss with your employer as early as possible about taking study leave or unpaid leave rather than using holiday time or working overtime. You need to consider your wellbeing and mental health when balancing work and study so this should be an ongoing conversation with both us and your employer.
4. Acceptable reasons for not attending the construction workshop include proof of illness or travel restrictions. Be aware the construction workshops make up two thirds of the total hours for the course and require direct, continuous participation from students.
The programme is delivered 100% in English so a good command of the language is absolutely mandatory. During the in-person workshops, speaking Portuguese can be very helpful but it is not mandatory.
The online content will be made available progressively during the year, starting from October. In total, you will have 16 different online courses, distributed among two semesters. The courses have different workloads and durations. During each semester, you will have to work on 2-6 different online courses simultaneously.
The workshop includes intensive hands-on construction activities for social and/or experimental projects in which solutions will be co-developed with students and residents. Additional lectures from local experts, prototyping and tutorials are included within the program. So far, each workshop has been unique due to the nature of the projects or research happening at the time. Refer to Sushmita’s article, an SSA 20/21 student, to get an idea about the projects and tasks she was involved in and her overall reflection of her experience.
The post-graduation course is a two-semester programme. Each course has individual deadlines and requirements based on their release schedule. Extensions can only occur under certain circumstances and this policy’s details will be communicated to all students at the start of the course.
If a student is unable to complete all the assessment requirements or their work is not deemed sufficient to receive a passing grade, they can retake that respective curricular unit at the end of the year or in the following academic year for a fee.
A Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Architecture will be issued by ESAP – Escola Artistica do Porto and Critical Concrete following the successful completion of the course.
We aligned the volume of the content to traditional postgraduate programmes, which is 280h of contact hours plus assignments. In this programme, 210 hours are dedicated to the practical workshops (2*105 hours) and the rest are divided in online courses and co-design of the projects.
This year, we have two scholarships available granted by Millennium Bank that covers the entire programme’s fee.
Critical Concrete is committed to creating a diverse and accessible academic community and with these scholarships we aim to provide an opportunity for a candidate who fits into any of following categories:
If you're a qualifying candidate, apply by including a paragraph in your motivation letter with an explanation of your situation and how would you benefit from this scholarship.
Additionally, we encourage all students to independently research their eligibility for any other scholarship through national schemes and private fundings in their place of residence.
PLEASE NOTE: These Scholarships are only available for applications in the first two rounds - Until 12th August