Study Abroad in
“Drawing is one of the best ways to meditate, since one keeps connected to the world”, Elsha Leventis
Barcelona landscape, by Marilia Rojas
Lately, groups of urban sketchers have built a huge community around the world and, for sure, on the internet too, making it a popular trend within the architecture and art fields… Nevertheless, it is already known that urban sketching is much more than a trend… When someone stops by our architecture studio or just looks through the notebooks of our AD students, they may realize that all the quick drawing and sketches are something more than what they appear. Instead, the sketches work as a diary, portraying memories, the student’s relationship with the spaces they have visited or they are simply the prove of the fascination for unfinished artworks…
This semester, our AD students have surprised us with their sketches and quick drawings, showing us the wide and open multitude of possibilities while studying abroad in Barcelona. Besides the students’ learning objectives in Spanish, local culture and intercultural skills, sketching abroad broadens their experience in terms of artistic and architectural inspiration and their personal relationship with the city.
For instance, Damaris, from Howard University showed us drawings from her Architecture Studio project and some personal sketches of places around Barcelona.
In the same way, Marilia, from George Washington University, wanted to share some of her travel sketches. She made these during our weekend trip to Bilbao, where she had some time for sketching, even inside the Guggenheim Museum.
As well as the artistic and personal aspects of urban sketching, the benefits of drawing on-site are obvious for the architectural practice. Taking the realm, the atmosphere of the buildings and places one can visit is an important step in the architectural creative process, as we can see thanks to contributions from the Architecture Studio professor, Rafael Gómez-Moriana, who shares his vision of some iconic buildings of Barcelona and Spain:
How can one do all this? It’s simple! As we can see in the following video, in which Sara, from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, is sketching in the Mies van der Rohe Pavillion: One needs only very basics tools (a notebook and some pens) and the willingness to better know the world (and himself).
Alexa, from Rochester Institute of Technology explains that “Frank Dominguez”, the studio in which she is doing the internship “is a lively but cozy studio located in one of the best areas in Barcelona to allow creativity to flow freely. All ideas are welcome and encouraged in the studio making the workplace entertaining as well as challenging. Due to the fact that the studio is made up of multiple design divisions, I have the opportunity to learn from many design professionals from different design and production backgrounds. Although, I have only been working at the “estudi” for some weeks, it has already been an amazing experience. Watching the style of work and being exposed to the ideas of the designers at the studio is very inspiring and working with them has already allowed me to grow as a designer through the new methods I have been learning the past weeks. I feel very fortunate for this experience and I would definitely recommend it to future students!”.
Ally, from Fordham University, is “currently interning at a Graphic Design company, Estudi Virgili, in Gracia”. For her, “this internship is similar to those graphic design internships I have had in the past. I am given real work and tasks to complete. I work with the team to help create unique images and branding. Some of my daily tasks include finding references for examples and inspiration, creating several versions of redesigns for clients, and creating mood-boards to help portray our ideas to the client. I love my internship and am learning so much from it!”
And, lastly, Marilia, from George Washington University has found her niche here in Barcelona: she is interning in a studio that matches perfectly her idea of what design must be. She says “For a long time I was thinking of how to merge different fields of art and design rather than separating them. My internship has definitely been a mind opening experience since I have been able to see how rich it could be to incorporate interior, graphic and product design as well as photography. I feel lucky to intern in a smaller creative studio where it is a very collaborative environment, and I am learning from them as well as being encouraged to contribute to the team with my background and interests. It is a unique experience and I really feel like I belong here!”
Whether they do internships or not, all the students in the program have a chance to visit local practitioners of architecture and design in their workplaces, and reflect on the philosophies and work styles behind each of them. For instance, this semester students have already gone to “The Hall Studio”, that breaks with the traditional concept of what a studio is. After almost a decade of experience working in architectural offices, Carolina Martinez decided to create her own, based on the idea of horizontal and fair collaboration with all the different agents participating in each project. She hosted our group in her office, explained about her responsible vision of architecture, and students were able to relaxedly discuss with her her approach to architecture and her particular projects.
The Barcelona Architecture and Design Fall 14 semester has ended, and the year is very close to its end too … in Spain –as in so many other places- it is a tradition to review the best moments of the year on December 31st, and this is exactly what we have decided to do!
This semester’s students are getting really involved in the design scene of Barcelona. As a group, they have been visiting some very interesting local design studios. One of those is LoSiento. Their work is based on handmade or 3D design projects, a characteristic that large accounts for their success. At LoSiento, Pablo Salas hosted us, explained their approach to design and went into what the everyday life of a small design studio in Barcelona is like.
Another studio that students have visited through CIEE is Curro Claret’s. There, students have discussed issues of social responsibility in the area of design. Curro Claret has been working with lower social classes and homeless people, and his goal is to improve their lives through good design. In the picture you can see some chairs that are part of his project: with a single triangular piece made of recycled materials, different pieces of furniture can be created (chairs, beds, tables, etc.).
But studying abroad not only means progress towards professional goals: it is also an opportunity to give back to the community in different ways. Joseph, from Tulane University, was determined to do this:
“I celebrated my first Thanksgiving holiday away from my family; and I didn't really have a meal to serve as substitute. But it's ok because I had the opportunity, thanks to CIEE, to volunteer at a local food drive. It was an organization that collected food at supermarkets throughout the city and donated to people in poorer areas. I was impacted by the willingness of my fellow volunteers to engage and the amount of generosity I witnessed from strangers during the food drive. While there, we filled 1 & 1/2 of giant sized boxes - and they did this across the entire city for two whole days. So if your encouraged in anything, it's to not let your fears or excuses from volunteering, serving, and getting involved! God has given us such value and we ALL can be used!"
Yes, study abroad is a give-and-take. Both - students and the city- can grow and improve, together.
Students at the beggining of the semester (on site classes, talk with Pau Faus and welcome meeting at Elisava)
Just a few weeks after their arrival, architecture and design students have already taken some important steps: they have settled in their new homes, started CIEE and direct enrollment courses, participated in CIEE trips and excursions, enjoyed the National Catalan Day… They have also met an interesting local architect, Pau Faus, who was this semester’s first guest speaker and talked about his project “The retired city”, about urban gardens in the outskirts of Barcelona (http://paufaus.net/).
AD students have also started to realize that this is an adventure with the potential of being life-changing. It was life-changing indeed for Justin (from the University of Minnesota), who studied with us in 2012. He visited us this past week, on his way to Zaragoza, where he will be teaching Spanish for the next year. He has just been hired by the Spanish Government to work as an English Teaching Assistant at a secondary school. At the end of his study abroad semester, Justin promised he would be back, and he has indeed done so right after graduation!
Anna, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, also stopped by this past week. She was here with us in 2013 and she has just graduated too. She has been traveling the world these past two months, and she could just not go back to the States without paying a visit to Barcelona first, the city where she had left so many good friends…. she even stayed with her host mother, who welcomed her like a daughter coming back home.
Starting a new semester at CIEE Barcelona it is not just the beginning of a academic semester… it is also the beginning of something else!
CIEE Barcelona Program: Architecture & Design
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: University of Colorado Boulder
Southern Spain was absolutely gorgeous. I traveled to Seville on Friday, Cordova on Saturday, a modern section of Seville on Sunday morning, and Granada until Monday.
After we dropped our bags off at Fernando III (our hotel) we met up with a Guardian angel from CIEE, Seville. She showed us around a few sites including the Seville CIEE study center, Placa España, the University of Seville, and a walking tour of the city.
Seville used to be the capital of Spain, way back when. Catedral de Sevilla was enormous; in fact it is the third largest in the world! We climbed to the top of the bell tower and were welcomed with a breathtaking, 360-degree view of the city. Christopher Columbus's tomb is there, so neat! His burial place is located in this cathedral because he sailed from Seville in 1492!
Outside here the building was lined with horse and chariots. There were horses all around the city, it was so cool.
Probably the most impressive thing to see here was Placa España. There were canals running around a semicircle of walkways filled with columns. This building was extremely colorful. I loved it!
Early Saturday morning we took a 1.5 hour bus ride to Cordoba, east of Seville. This city was very prosperous during the Middle Ages and was at one point the largest city in the world! We saw the Córdoba Mezquita in which encompassed Catedral de Córdoba —a famous mosque, absolutely incredible. The mosque was very well preserved with the addition of a cathedral inside! There were 1000 columns in the mosque originally, where as the cathedral knocked down 150. Surprisingly, with the Catholics help, the mosque was in close to perfect condition. Unfortunately we had a tour guide that rushed us through the entire thing, but I made sure to take some good shots-of course!
Afterwards we saw a synagogue and had lunch. We made sure to get some typical dishes from Cordoba, such as a battered eggplant with honey- Berenjena Con Miel. I feel very fortunate to go to Cordoba. I feel like it is a city in which I would have never visited if CIEE did not take me. I am so happy I went!
On the way back to Seville we stopped by Madinat al-Zahra, a modern archeology study and museum. After exploring the building and its artifacts we took a bus to another site in which had mosques that were built a few hundred years after the ones in Cordoba. In contrast, these were not preserved at all!
At 6 o’clock we took a bus back to Seville. Next on our agenda was watching a flamenco show. It was absolutely incredible. The dancers feet moved so fast as if they were vibrating!
I finished my day with my friends eating some tapas, some of the best I have had! Southern Spain is known for their goat cheese. This only made me more excited for the tapas in Granada!
The following morning we had a Contemporary architecture tour of Seville. We saw this super modern sculpture/building that looked like a giant waffle! Its purpose was to hold and display roman ruins on the bottom floor and if you took an elevator up you were able to walk over the sculpture, with a view of the city and cathedral especially. This building was super curved, which I loved, of course!!! On Sunday afternoon, 5 of my classmates from the architecture and design program joined me on a trip to Granada. Sadly we had backtracked from being in Cordova the day before. This city was a 3-hour bus ride northeast. The bus was super easy to find!
Our hostel there was really cool, hostel Vita. The gentleman working the front desk was really nice and took us to a great tapas place. In Granada every drink you buy you receive a tapa, ranging from 1.5-2 euro, a great deal! The idea of a drink with food came from King Alfonso X (the name of my metro stop!) He made a law that with every drink a person would buy at a restaurant they would receive food. Granada keeps this tradition, which I absolutely loved! The drink of southern Spain is called Tinto de Verano -a mix of fizzy water with wine. This is the drink of the south in oppose of Kalimotxo where they mix coke with wine (gross)!
We went back early to our hostel in order to get a good nights rest before the Alhambra.
The Alhambra. I was so excited for this, I have learned about it countless times since freshman year in my architecture classes! My friend and I had tickets to the palace at 2. God was it amazing! The details on the walls are absolutely remarkable. When I got to the fountain of lions I literally started crying. I just could not believe I was there!!!!Throughout the palace and Alhambra site there were breathtaking views of the city. All of the houses were white stucco with tiled roofs. It made me really feel like I was in Spain! After the palace my friend and I enjoyed exploring the gardens. The coolest thing we had witnessed was the water stairway; the way in which they moved water around the site was incredible. The gardens were spectacular.Afterwards, around 6, my friend Meg and I went to the Catedral de Granada. This is the most unique cathedral I have seen yet. Everything in there was white! I would imagine it was to match the city.
Subsequently we met up with our other classmates and went on a quest to see the caves with gypsies in them--in the mountains. Unfortunately we did not find the caves but we were welcomed with more breathtaking views, especially during sunset. It was cool exploring the neighborhoods.
When we were finished with this adventure we were starving and went to go get tapas, of course! We went to Babel in which it was all our outright favorite; it had 20 options of tapas to choose from, in oppose to the night before where there was an assigned tapa for the drink you got. The food here was absolutely amazing and such big portions!
All in all this was by far the best weekend of my life, especially considering my major. Spain has so much to offer!
After two months in Barcelona, it starts to appear as though there is not enough time to do everything we wanted. Both students and professors keep active in different ways. For the students, aside from their midterm exams and projects, there has been the chance to explore and experience the city and the country, and professors keep getting involved in their academic fields. Here there are some examples:
| 1 | ARCHITECTURE STUDIO FIRST FINAL REVIEW
Lena, a third year architecture student from University of Colorado Boulder, has been inspired by the unique forms of architecture that Barcelona offers. In her words, “I am known to have some of the wildest ideas.” For the first Studio Project, which was to design “An ordinary Building,” Lena incorporated the curved lines, light and natural inspirations of Gaudí's architecture from the Casa Milà into her design of a modern apartment building. To update the building she added large terraces and curtain walls. We can't wait to see what she comes up with for her second project! See more about Lena's project here.
| 2 | INDEPENDENT TRAVELS IN SPAIN
Students in the AD Program know what study abroad means... and aside from studying, they try to take advantage of the strategic emplacement of Barcelona to be able to explore. Due to its diverse connections by plane, train or bus, it is easy and affordable travel both without Europe and Spain.
This semester, two of our students: Johan, from Carnegie Melon, and Connor, from University Colorado Boulder took this opportunity to visit other cities in the Mediterranean coast and they were surprised by how different and complex a country like Spain can be!
Johan said that “before arriving to Spain, I had no idea how divided and different the 'autonomous regions`in the country are.” He visited Valencia, where he enjoyed the architectural focal points of the city, like the historic casco Viejo, which “ is impressive with the original forts still standing that protected the old city” and the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, designed by Calatrava. He also noticed the cultural differences between regions are not only seen through the history and architecture, but in the small things, “like workers at the stores going out of their way to have conversation.”
Connor, on the other hand, travelled a little bit farther, visiting the southern part of the Mediterranean coast: Murcia and Alicante. He had a friend from high school who was originally from Murcia and he thought it would be a cool trip to take and experience another Spanish city. Helped by the CIEE Cultural Activities department, Connor managed to plan a quick and inexpensive trip. After he experienced the spectacular routes going down the coast, he spent 4 days in his family’s house in Murcia and even had time to visit Alicante where he ventured “around its streets stopping for pinchos and cañas at some great restaurants. And we hiked up the Castillo de Santa Barbara, which was the highlight of the trip.”
| 3 | LECTURES AND CONFERENCES
In the lasts months, two of the AD Program professors, Rafael Gómez-Moriana and Judith Urbano took part in conferences. First, Rafael Gómez-Moriana participated in the “Critical Juncture: the Work of Joseph Rykwert, critic and historian”, conference curated by Trevor Boddy (CICA), which took place in the Architectural Association School of Architecture, in London. Rafael Gómez-Moriana, among others: Michael Sorkin, Rowan Moore, or Danny Wicaksono, gave a talk, called “Criticism 2.0: Nobody likes a critic when everyone's a critic,” in which he analyzed how the new digital media (blogs, social networks, etc.) are changing the architectural discourse, a topic he knows deeply due to his regular collaborations in Architecture Journals and his more than interesting and accurate commentaries in his own blog: criticalista.com.
Judith Urbano, PhD, led a conference about her most recent book “Eclecticism and Architecture. August Font i Carreras (1845-1924)", based in her PhD thesis. During the conference, which took place in the historical building housing MUHBA, Judith covered the life and work of this architect, whose main artworks are still interesting and meaningful for the city... such as the neogothic façade of Barcelona Cathedral, the Palau de les Heures or the original Arenas bullring, which has recently been turned into a controversial mall.
CIEE Barcelona Program: Architecture & Design
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: University of Colorado Boulder
At the end of the 19th century, the architects of Europe were stuck on what to do next. They started using old architecture, creating 'neo'gothic 'neo'romanesque. Antoni Gaudi was one of the first to "step out of the box." He was a fantastic modernisme architect--his head was flooded with the most creative thoughts. One of the characteristics of his architecture was nature; he also had a lot of curves within his buildings.
I am a third year architecture student, studying in Barcelona of spring, 2014. In my studios, I am known to have some of the wildest ideas. Being in Barcelona has influenced me to play with some of Gaudi's ideas. The first project assigned to us was to create and "ordinary building"-- an apartment building in Barcelona with one parti-wall and a green space within the block.
Of course I wanted to create something that was not so ordinary. I decided to work curves and nature characteristics into my building, with Gaudi’s ideas in mind. I created a large courtyard in the center for light, inspired by Casa Mila.
My apartment was very high end, and took a modern twist of Casa Mila, with my additions of large terraces and curtain walls. Barcelona has numerous types of architecture that has inspired me in countless ways. I could have not chosen a better place! I love it here and I can't wait to see what I come up with for my second project!