People & Places

“I feel great to be part of this story”

14 July, 2022 3 min reading
Felipe Pires

“I feel great to be part of this story”

The choice to pursuing an international Master course years after the end of my bachelor studies was a tough choice, but the payoff given by SAHC was terrific.


Built heritage became an interest to me after my civil engineering bachelor, during my architecture studies (I´ve studied both). After some years learning by working at Brazilian heritage agencies, it became clear to me that a specialization would be necessary to gain a wide understanding of the field. With this in mind, I have searched and found SAHC. As a civil engineer, the program was exactly what I needed and I believed it would give me the credentials to go deeper also in architectural studies.



Cultural heritage is a growing field, and SAHC has demonstrated to be a pioneer in an area inside this field that has been ignored by most professionals: the structural analysis of existing structures and the design of adequate interventions in built heritage. However, to describe SAHC simply as a Master course is to overlook the other interesting aspects of the program.



Even though the studies were the main attraction to me, the experience of living abroad and sharing with people from all over the world raised considerably the gains. The pace of the course units, allied with the interest of the students, created a rich classroom experience that grew out and developed friendships for life.


The Master is extremely valuable as a basis for further development. At the beginning of the program, each student presented an example of his country built heritage. This exercise developed my awareness, as it showed me the amplitude, both in terms of type and distribution of the built heritage of the world. Throughout the course, we have the opportunity of studying and working with several different types of building materials and techniques, going from traditional to contemporary ones. I learned about structural analysis techniques that I barely imagined about the existence, both classic and advanced. The course also develops a capacity for quick (but effective) verification of design solutions.



In my thesis, I had the opportunity to investigate ancient Maya pyramidal structures and the stability of the tunnels excavated bellow them to allow for archaeological studies. The theme by itself is extremely interesting, and in addition I had to learn how to deal with tunnels and geotechnical analysis, as well as to use some of the FEM (Finite Element Methods) learned throughout the program to assess the strength of masonry walls.



Today, back in Brazil, I became president of the state heritage agency (Instituto Estadual do Património Histórico e Artístico de Minas Gerais – IEPHA/MG). SAHC gave me the confidence I needed to become the leader of a protection agency that researches, protects, and promotes the cultural heritage of a state with a territory as big as France.


To describe in a few words the impacts SAHC had in my professional and personal life is not an easy task. However, I tried to give an indication of my experience with the program and the outcomes that emerged right after the end of the course. I must add that, to me, SAHC looks like the start of something much more interesting, not only to my career, but to the whole field of built heritage, and why not to say, the international cultural heritage issues. And I feel great to be part of this story.



SEE ALSO: A Year in the Life of a SAHC Student