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Engelsberg feedback

ANNA LARRAINE RIENTON, Philippines

Good Moulding! 

I started the summer school only expecting to learn classical architecture. I’m going home having learnt so much more. I found out about the summer school through a professor and students from my university who went here in 2016 and 2017. I decided to apply because I wanted to learn more about history and heritage. I knew the school dealt with almost purely manual drawing and that’s something I really enjoy and wanted to improve in.

One of my fellow students was asked the question: “What’s the best part of the summer school for you?” and he answered, “The people, definitely the people.” I bet we’d all agree with him. 

Usually on the first day of class, everyone is so quiet while the last day is the loudest because everyone’s bonded. It’s peculiar because with us, it was the other way around. The first day was not awkward at all. Everyone was nice and genuinely interested in everyone else. Throughout the month, it was quite an experience getting to know more than a dozen different cultures through each student from every country. It was really interesting to see the differences between regions and continents and also connecting similarities between neighboring countries.

Engelsberg Bruk is a really beautiful place and just perfect for studying classical architecture. I will miss the days of studio-sauna-river-sauna-sleep repeat, sneaking down a little earlier to get the best cookies at fika, intellectual breakfast conversations and all the little cultures we developed during the month. Even with the level of work we were doing, all we needed to do is to take a 15-minute walk and we’re refreshed and back on the drafting tables. 

When they said it will be an intense four-week course, it really was an intense four-week course. We accomplished so much in a short amount of time. The studio atmosphere was so vibrant. It encourages you to learn while having fun in its own way. Being the third youngest person in the class, it felt really good learning about what could be next for me in the future through the stories and experiences of everyone else.

Looking back at our works, everyone’s improved so much so fast. During design review where we got to see everyone’s works from the first design project to the last, the outputs are so beautiful and well-made that its become normal to fawn over each and every A1 sheet. 

Of course none of this will be accomplishable without Jenny, Christopher, Nils, Carl and all the visiting tutors. They guided us through every step of the way. All the projects stretched our limits and explored our potential as designers, architects and free-thinkers. The lectures were very enlightening and have given me better and clearer eyes on architecture, detail and a building’s history in context to its place. 

I am forever grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the friends I’ve made and the tutors who imparted their knowledge and let us grow into our own persons. This month has been nothing but wholehearted and fulfilling. 

To the Axson Johnson Foundation for providing this wonderful opportunity to study classical architecture, Morgane, Gabrielle, Andreas and everyone in the staff who helped and organized all this, we are very grateful for all the help and support you’ve given us throughout the entire month. 

I could only say so much in words. The whole experience was beautifully surreal that the only way to truly understand is to live it yourself. This past four-weeks is something I’ll treasure forever. So excited to see everyone’s future work. Keep on grinding t-squares for classical architecture! 

I miss everyone already,


Anna Larraine Rienton

T’LEYA WALKER, United-States 

College of Charleston, South Carolina, USA, MA, Community Planning, Policy, and Design 

Reflection of the Engelsberg Summer School in Classical Architecture

The thought of being chosen from more than forty students for the Engelsberg Summer School in Classical Architecture has never crossed my mind and it has been an unbelievable experience. There’re no words to describe how much I valued this opportunity. Flourishing in ways I didn’t think I’ll meet so fast, understanding my ability and capability, making connections with new people from around the world, and completing such an intense program has started a new chapter in my life.

For starters, I enjoy how I’ve been able to efficiently execute on focused growth areas I set for myself. I was introduced to this program by my program director, Richard Grant Gilmore from the College of Charleston in South Carolina. It was previous spoken of how I wanted to advance in architecture designing but was uncertain from where to start. He heavily advised me to apply and it was the most frightening due to not having a load of experience in architecture. I received my bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering and currently in a Masters program which consist of Community Planning, Policy, and Design. After applying and getting accepted, I then knew this was a new beginning. I was alarmed of how intense the program would be, but I knew this would be a learning experience that I absolutely needed.   

Attending the program with individuals on different levels of architecture, I had to constantly remind myself each and everyday to decrease the pressure I had on myself. It would get challenging for me because I had little knowledge about the basics and fundamentals of classical architecture, but the students and tutors had so much positivity with helping. Whether or not you were an expert, every tutor made you feel belonged by starting at the beginning to give a skillful understanding. The assignments and tours that were given stretched my knowledge. There aren’t many classical architecture programs in the US and as a beginner, this has been the best learning experience I’ve ever had. Every project was treated as if we were on a real assignment and served a purpose of realization. Although every assignment was intense and there were many requirements, the students weren’t pressured or graded on their work which helped mentally put the students at ease being the program focused on absorbing the skillful knowledge of classical architecture. We were able to learn from our own mistakes as a lesson and was given reasons of why it should be corrected.

 The insight that was given exceeded my expectations. This program has taught me life lessons personally and professionally. My worst enemies were time management and patience because I often would say and do things that gets in the way of my own success but that has absolutely changed. I’m beyond appreciative and grateful for the places the results of my perseverance have landed me. Thank you!

Yours Truly,

JOFRID SANDGREN  ØSTENSTAD, Norwegian / Swedish 

Personal reflection on the Engelsberg Summer School of Classical Architecture 2019

A couple of times when I was younger and considered possibilities for my future, people suggested I could study architecture, since I was good at both math and art. I did not really spark to that idea. When I nevertheless ended up studying architecture, the buildings I drew were often interpreted as being classical in style. The response to this in architecture school was mixed. During one portfolio review I was encouraged to read up on classical architecture and further develop it, while in a similar situation the year after, a teacher exclaimed “oh but this is great, we were worried you were some kind of strict classicist” upon seeing one of my more abstract and modernist-style projects from the year before. 

I first heard about the Engelsberg course in 2016, after its first year, recommended by a facebook acquaintance who knew of my liking for historical architecture styles. I thought it sounded like a very interesting and relevant concept for me, and this year I decided to apply. 

In general my stay at Engelsberg was a great experience, for many reasons. 

Firstly, the place itself is absolutely lovely. It is idyllic, calm and very beautiful, surrounded by forests and lakes of perfect bathing temperature. Being there felt safe. Although the workload was intensive at times, I generally did not feel stressed, because I did not have to worry about other things – good food was ready for us when needed, and should one need to have some rest, my own room was less than a minute’s walk away.  

I was delighted to find that the 22 students this year were a very varied bunch of people of different ages, nationalities, interests and professional backgrounds. Perhaps partly due to this diversity, it was an open environment where people were curious and respectful of each other. We would live in the same place, eat together, play games on our free time, and work together towards a common goal. Getting to know these people has also provided me with a community of people who can share ideas and support each other. I think this can be nice to have when working in a field that sometimes faces opposition from the establishment. 

The course was taught by our teachers Jenny and Cristopher, two practicing classical architects from USA, who were with us during the whole course. In addition, guest teachers from different countries came for shorter periods and helped out as teachers and gave lectures. Whenever a new guest teacher arrived, I would worry they would be very strict, but in the end they all turned out to be fun and genuinely interested in us students. The presentations the teachers held on their own work, examples of all sorts of contemporary classical and traditional buildings, was also very inspiring.

Our teaching started off by learning the very basics like hand-drafting, mouldings and drawing a simple column order, so even people without prior architecture experience could follow. The later tasks were adapted to the level of the students – for example, the inexperienced might focus on drawing the facades and a simple plan of their building, while more advanced students would be encouraged to add wall sections and detail studies. Personally, I really enjoy drafting by hand, and am happy to have learnt how to do it more properly. I now feel an urge buying a proper drawing board and large pieces of paper to perhaps use for my future projects.

In addition to the knowledge of how to design classical architecture, the lectures and discussions we have had at Engelsberg have allowed me to form my own opinion on the topic of creating classical and traditional architecture today. Before, disdain for classical architecture both confused and saddened me, and I didn’t know what to think as it was generally a topic avoided in architecture school. Now, I feel more confident, and should I encounter critics, I believe I would be much better able to argue my case. 

I believe the basics of classical architecture is something every architecture student should learn The classical language of architecture has been developed over a period of thousands of years, and neglecting this part of our history is doing ourselves a disservice. The knowledge of proportion and detail that can be found in the classical language will be beneficial to any architect, whether they later go on to work with classical architecture, modernist architecture, both types or something else entirely. 

My hope for the future is that the wedge formed between modernism and traditional/classical architecture will be healed, and that making buildings inspired by styles from before 1930 will again be accepted in the mainstream architect community. Throughout history, architects have looked to the past to find inspiration and ideas. Tradition is not something that needs to hold us back, but rather knowledge that we continue to build upon and evolve, something we perfect and adapt to new circumstances. 

Jofrid Sandgren Østenstad, soon to begin the 5th year of architecture studies at KTH

ALEXANDER ROMNEY DOWTHWAITE

Studying for a BA in Architecture at Melbourne University 

The Engelsberg Summer School in Classical Architecture is an entirely unique program, and is one of the only places in the world where the principles of classical architecture can be studied and applied successfully.

In my country of Australia there are currently no institutions that provide a basic education in the principles of Classical Architecture. As a student with such an interest, I therefore had to travel to the other side of the planet in order to gain the knowledge and succour I needed to practice in the classical tradition, and it was well worth it.

This course has given me with that essential training, and has provided me with the building blocks required to work with and develop the classical tradition in Australia. Australia is a country with its own rich classical tradition, but with very few classical architects. Courses like the Engelsberg Summer School are therefore global beacons for far-flung students like myself, and is helping us to reintroduce some understanding of humane proportions, history, culture and tradition to architecture, both in Sweden and the rest of the world.

Apart from the great people, world-class tutors and architects, and the beautiful environment of Engelsberg, if you are looking to gain the skills and knowledge required to properly engage with buildings, both historically and today, there is no better place to do so than at the Engelsberg Summer School in Classical Architecture.”