The Global Free Unit is a constellation for learning and research. It is born out of a desire to enable architecture students to address some of the most pressing global challenges we face: scarcity of resources, inequality, climate change, migration and social division, through research, live projects and collaborations.

We, the Global Free Unit, are responding to an industry culture that is too often self referential, in thrall to mediated values reinforced by media and notions of fame.

Instead, we are establishing a new path for education that offers a unique opportunity to redefine future practice by connecting education to actions and to the personal history, experience and ethical position of participants. This is delivered within a global constellation of academic partners and ‘Classrooms’ that are located in hot-spots of rapid change or necessity.

At the heart of the GFU is the core intent to radically reframe notions of value. Current educational structures prioritises competition, individualism and self-interest, which is then mirrored in practice. We are brokering a realignment of values by placing emphasis on a student’s own principles and life experience.

Centred on a critical understanding of the terms ‘global’ and ‘freedom’, the GFU puts forward a new agenda for architectural education in the 21st century. As active citizens and emerging practitioners, students do not follow a classic academic course, but are embedded in live project Classrooms, which are based in a variety of contexts ranging from refugee camps to abandoned inner-city sites, prisons, demilitarised zones, migration centres and depopulating rural communities.

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