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24 posts categorized "Global Architecture and Design"




Bilbao trip + Valldaura visit


In early March we headed over to the Basque country in the West of Spain to visit Bilbao, including the iconic architecture of the Guggenheim Museum. Desktop2

Then a few weeks back we had an exciting visit to Valldaura, the Green Campus of IaaC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia), where Jonathan Minchin gave us a tour of the facilities as well as organizing a mini 3D Scanning workshop. We finished the day at a local Catalan restaurant eating calçots, a time-honored springtime tradition involving barbecued leeks and meats.

Classes at IaaC + Midterm Presentations 


The most exciting part of this month was a combination of the trips, visits and all the activities organized by CIEE Barcelona with intensive classes at IaaC - the host Institution. The array of seminars, workshops and design studio classes are giving out tons of new knowledge every week, while in practical terms the additional sessions of rendering and structural analysis are helping a lot for the development of the studio projects. Lastly, all the trips and visits are reminding us what we’re studying for and refreshing the students’ enthusiasm and motivation. As a result, the midterm presentations were outstanding! The invited jury gave us a lot of positive feedback, as well as some constructive comments for developing the projects.

Berlin Summit


The Berlin trip was another highlight of this month. It was a great way to discover the city by sharing the experience with the students from GAD Berlin and Prague. We started the Summit with an inspiring lecture by Maria Aiolova, an educator, architect and urban designer in New York City. Next morning we had an amazing opportunity to present our Design Studio projects to the GAD teams from Prague, Berlin and an external jury,  and then to compare our own work with that of our peers from Czech and Germany.  The evening included a talk by Tobias Wallisser and Leonie Woidt Wallisser from LAVA, discussing the intersections of architecture and environmental design. 


We spent Friday and Saturday wandering around Berlin, visiting the Jewish museum by Liebeskind, the memorial by Eisenman, the East Side Gallery (the former Berlin Wall), and had a boat tour on the Spree river. These were very informative and inspiring days in Berlin, but weather-wise we were happy to come back to sunny and warm Barcelona!




We have started another exciting term with the Global Architecture and Design program!

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As usual, during the Orientation all the students attended informative sessions about health, safety and academic requirements, among other topics. One of the most exciting moments of the students’ first day is when they meet for the first time the families with whom they will live during the semester. Look at Aria, Crystal, Melissa and Sarah with their host families!


The students were equally eager to start going to class. The semester began with an Digital Tools intensive workshop, taught by Aldo Sollazzo. For four days, students made their first steps in parametric architecture, developing parametrically designed 3d models by using Rhinoceros3d and plug-in Grasshopper. On the last day of the workshop, students printed their models using an Ultimaker 3d printer. The final output of the workshop was quite impressive!Gad1

Shortly after, they began working on their Future Cities Design Studio projects. Accompanied by IaaC faculty, one of the first days of class they visited the site for their projects, the mouth of the Besós River. Inspired by the river and the beautiful coastline of the city, they started with some form-finding exercises. We can’t wait to see how their projects unfold!





These weeks are going very well. We had some great time visiting Bilbao, San Sebastian and Berlin, we got plenty of new ideas working on the Studio projects at IaaC, and we definitely had lots of fun here in Barcelona!


Benson, from California Polytechnic State University, presented at a session during the CIEE conference in Berlin. The session was called “Increasing STEM mobility through study abroad in Europe: engineering, architecture and design”:

"I arrived at IAAC, excited to spend my time abroad and to develop personal skills. The courses seemed interesting: theory, digital tools, and studio. I wasn’t sure how much time the classes would take at IAAC, but I soon gained the perspective that they took the right amount of time. The work from all classes is pretty well integrated, which means that I don’t often spend time on trivial projects or busy-work. This makes for an intensely dedicated education system that I find rare and simultaneously appreciate. I can only attribute the quality of this program to the effort of my professors".

Back in Spain, students and faculty visited together Bilbao, San Sebastian. “At Bilbao, we took a personal tour around the city and learned about the city’s history of urban redevelopment along the waterfront. It was amazing to hear about locals’ change in perspective due to urban development. I also learned about the region’s history and about the Basque language, which is incredible to me, because it has no Latin-based roots. The most relaxing trip was probably the one to San Sebastian, because I walked along the waterfront there and hiked to the mountain. Many of my peers went out and ate pinchos, which are like small snack foods eaten between meals”.




Global AD students during some of the many activities during the Berlin Summit

“The last trip that I went to was Berlin and Berlin was a great trip, because the city was completely different from the European cities I had seen so far. The city’s layout was quite spread out and there was no clear center; however, I felt that the urban infrastructure was quite balanced and advanced. Although, there did seem to be a slightly higher reliance on personal vehicles. In Berlin, I had a Summit and met up with peers from different schools within the same CIEE Global Architecture and Design program across Europe (Prague and Berlin). This was a great experience, because as an architecture student I was able to compare educational experiences and learn from my peers’ educational experiences. Moreover, we had a great chance to join the lecture of Daniel Libeskind and even have one hour meeting with Daniel discussing all our questions regarding his work and architecture in general. I thought the trip was quite informative on both an academic level and an experiential level." 


Global Architecture and Design, Fall 2015, Newsletter I


WP_20150904_13_03_07_ProLast week we started another exciting term of the Global Architecture and Design Program with a great group of new students.

GAD01After the orientation days, students were excited to begin their classes at CIEE and IaaC. This term started with two intensive workshops: a Spanish language workshop at CIEE and a Digital Tools Workshop with Aldo Sollazzo at the IaaC Campus. During these 4 days at IaaC, students were making their first steps in parametric architecture, developing beautiful patterns using plug-in Grasshopper. On the last day of the workshop, students prepared small panels with parametric patterns using a laser cutter. The final output of the workshop was quite impressive, please check it out!

Photo 3 (1)

In order to make students familiar with other machines and fabrication methods, we organised a tour in FabLab Barcelona with Anya Popova, Fab Lab Barcelona Fabrication Assistant. After the FabLab tour we had a lecture with Guillem Camprodon, Fab Lab Barcelona Project Manager & Smart Citizen lead researcher, and a short introduction to the SmartCitizen project.

This past Monday the students also had their first Future Cities Design studio class, and they started to work on their draft proposals towards the design studio projects. We will see how the project continues...!!





One of the highlights of the program is the Global AD Summit. Students participating in any of the CIEE Global AD programs met in Berlin for three days to experiment together and share projects and ideas. Mashael (University of California, Berkeley) shares her  experience: 

"It’s 10 am on a Thursday morning and I am sitting on a surprisingly comfortable airport bench. Next to me, Sam and Eli are doodling away in their sketchbooks, Jose and Addison are zoning off into their music, and Isabel, Rob, Jared and Maria are shuffling through their luggage trying to satisfy Easy Jet’s cruel carry-on policy. We’re all on our way to Berlin, and the thought of it gives me chills. I had always been infatuated with the Berlin aesthetic and art culture, and now I would be able to not only visit it but also participate in an architectural workshop there. 

The Global Architecture and Design Workshop taking place in Berlin is made to unite the students of the CIEE GAD programs for a weekend to collaborate together to create a site-specific proposal. Our site, the Spree River, was situated right by the Berlin GAD studio. We were welcomed there right after our flight by Lucas, the Berlin Program Director. Lucas gave a quick presentation introducing the goals of the workshop and then acquainted us with the site. I was inspired by the DIY Culture of the city, it had surpassed my expectations. We were able to walk around an area right by the spree called Tee Pee Land. While some people may view this living situation as anarchist and chaotic, the Berliners saw it as an opportunity for public reclamation and innovation. I shared that sentiment; walking through Tee Pee land I saw an effort from the residents to make the land their own; doormats, twinkle lights, and even ornamental easter eggs. 

Back at the studio, we got down to business. The Barcelona and Berlin GAD students were broken up into groups each tackling a separate area on the site. Once with a group, we discussed opportunities ideas for the site. We were even able to get feedback from local professors, community members, and architects about our proposals. After the intense 4-hour session, each group presented their proposal at the lecture room. Many community members attended the presentation and gave valuable feedback. At the end of the day, I was both exhausted and exhilarated. Never had I been more inspired about a place nor a community’s interest in their neighborhood".





FabLab visitLast month was very intensive for Global Architecture students and faculty in Barcelona. We ended February with Midterm Presentations, which were organized together with CIEE Berlin students at IaaC, Barcelona. This was an important step in the development of the students’ projects. All the students received very helpful comments and critiques from the external jury and IaaC faculty. Moreover, Berlin and Bcn students had a chance to meet each other, share their experiences and spend a great time together after Midterm Presentations, visiting the Media-Tic Building (Enric Ruiz-Geli, Cloud9), Endesa Pavilion (IaaC, Rodrigo Rubio), DHub Barcelona and touring the FabLab Barcelona, guided by Anya Popova from FabLab Barcelona.

Gad2Two weeks ago, CIEE Barcelona students had a fabrication session at Valldaura Green FabLab of IaaC, which is located in Collserola Park. The workshop started with a visit of the Valldaura facilities and a short presentation by Jonathan Minchin, coordinator of Green FabLab. During the fabrication session students worked with CNC machines under his supervision. 


Another important event of this month was a trip to Bilbao and San-Sebastian. CIEE Barcelona students flew to Bilbao to experience Basque culture, life and its traditions. They got to know first-hand Bilbao´s Urban development and its economic strategy plan.  On the second day of the research trip we travelled to San-Sebastian, where we had an insightful guided city tour and then had the pleasure of eating traditional Basque "pinchos".  The last day was spent visiting the Guggenheim  Museum in Bilbao. We were so impressed by its spectacular structure which was designed by Frank Gehry. The trip may have ended but many great memories and experiences remain.  





With the Spring 15 semester well underway, students have already had many opportunities to experience both the Catalan and the Spanish cultures, to discover the city of Barcelona and to get involved into the intensive academic process of the Global Architecture & Design Program.  At the host institution IaaC, students are discovering new design methods, learning new technologies and becoming familiarized with the FabLab. In short, they are are quickly becoming part of the IaaC Community.

Eli (from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor) and Addison (from Philadelphia University) share images and impressions from from this first month in Barcelona:

“We have been in Barcelona for a month now and it has gone by so quickly. We have made new friends, adjusted to a new city and culture and learned a ton!  There are seven of us in the Global Architecture and Design program and we have all become good friends. Here are some of the highlights from our first month in Barcelona!

Our first full day in Barcelona was El Dia de Los Tres Reyes. Which is a holiday to celebrate when the three kings came from across the world to give presents to baby Jesus. We went with our Guardian Angels to watch the impressive parade with beautiful parade floats and confetti they shot candy out from the floats and into the streets.

Dia de los ReyesOur first weekend trip was a hike up Mt. Tibidabo. After about a 45-minute hike we arrived at the top of the mountain with breathtaking views. We later stopped for a traditional Catalan meal. We ate Calçot, which are large sweet onions that are grilled. The traditional way of eating them is by peeling off the exterior layer and then dipping it in a sauce made from nuts. The calcots are typically served with wine that is drunk out of the vessel that it is served in.Tibidado (1)The picture below is the seven of us in the Global Architecture & Design Program on our first visit to our Besos River site. The first few weeks in our design studio have been lectures and activities focused on understanding the context for our project. We have been collecting data in groups at our Besos River site on several different variables.Site Visit

IMG_4711Collecting data with the Smart Citizens Kit and Soil pH Meter.


Global Architecture and Design, Newsletter Issue I, Fall 2014


With the semester well underway, Barcelona Global AD students are working hard on their projects. Just about two weeks ago a Global AD Summit took place in Berlin, and students in all three CIEE Global AD programs (Barcelona, Berlin and Prague) were able to share their projects, participate in a symposium, and of course visit the German capital.

Spanish inventosBesides their architecture and design courses, all Global AD students take one elective class, and most of them have selected a Spanish course this semester. CIEE Spanish classes are designed in such a way that students learn by using the city as part of the class as much as possible. For instance, the Intermediate section went to the Museum of Inventions, where Harris (from Carnegie Mellon University) explained - in Spanish, of course!- an invention of his, that was the most voted by his classmates. On a different occasion, all students in the Intermediate Spanish class went to a food market - Mercat de la Concepció- where they learnt how to buy groceries in Spanish.


However, as we all know, studying abroad is an excellent opportunity for becoming part of the host society and CIEE is proud to facilitate to all students opportunities such as volunteering. Rachel, from Howard University, has not wasted her time: she wants to contribute actively and positively to the city in which she is living, and soon after she arrived in Barcelona Rachel started volunteering at ASSIS, a local shelter that feeds the homeless and organizes activities for them. Every Tuesday after class, Rachel gives a lot back to the society that has welcomed her with open arms this semester. If you want to read more details of her experience, click here.

ASSIS voluntariado ALA y GAD (1)

In these and other contexts, Global AD students are able to not just increase their architectural and linguistic skills, but also to grow as persons.


Volunteering in Barcelona. Beyond an experience

Rachel, from Howard University, has known how to take profit of her stay in Barcelona and besides her studies, she started a volunteering here. She has wanted to share her experience to explain us such an interesting experience abroad:

ASSIS voluntariado ALA y GAD (1)"I started volunteering at this facility called Assís every Tuesday since the end of September. Assís is a shelter that feeds the homeless & provides them with activities such as gardening classes, art classes, cooking classes, computer classes, & a small rec room for ping pong or just hanging out. Roger, the supervisor, told me this place was all about combating the loneliness, so even though my Spanish isn’t very good & my Catalan is nonexistent, the people who come to Assís would appreciate me just trying to acknowledge them. It’s mostly older men but I’ve seen a few younger men & a small number of women come through.

I’ve had about four different tasks while volunteering at Assís. I either served juice, worked in the kitchen cleaning, served food, or helped work bag check. My first day all I did was given the easiest task of serving people coffee, milk, hot water for tea, & orange juice. It was easiest because if they grabbed a certain type of cup from the service station it implied they wanted a certain drink, I couldn’t possibly mess that up. Some of those I served were really friendly & were asking me my name & where I was from, they could tell I was new. I was definitely practicing my Spanish skills here. There was another CIEE student volunteering here & a few other volunteers who spoke Spanish really well so they helped translate for me when I get too lost.

The next week I was put on kitchen duty. You would think that would have been the easiest task but it wasn’t. Nobody in the kitchen spoke English so when they were telling me what to do or what goes where I was just kind of staring at them super confused. But those ladies were the sweetest & they would just walk me through everything & explain it again very slowly. Who knew the kitchen could be such a confusing place? After the kitchen I started serving food & that was generally the same as serving the juice but I was communicating much better thanks to everyone’s help!

The next few weeks I was given a bigger role of storing the visitors’ bags. When I’m storing bags I have to fill out a log stating if they are regulars, male or female, if they are there to shower & eat or just eat, if they are Catalan or another identification & then tag their bags with a number so I know what bag correlates to which person. This job is probably the most difficult. I couldn’t always tell if a name is male or female at the end of the day when I had to record the daily totals. I didn’t always understand what people were saying. There were also a lot of bags & sometimes the people got frustrated when I didn’t find their bag fast enough but most usually helped point it out to me.

I’ve seen some of the people who are served at Assís out & about in Spain & I’ve met up with one of the other volunteers. The two men I saw on two different occasions were really excited to see me & introduced me to a few of there friends but I couldn’t really stay & talk too long because I was on my way to class both times. When I met one of the other volunteers we grabbed some coffee  & she helped me study for my Spanish mid-term. We also took a study break to just get to know each other.

Sometimes I couldn’t make it on Tuesdays due to my schedule but I tried my best because I enjoyed going there. It was a relaxing moment away from schoolwork & the busy city. I definitely felt better on the days I went versus the days I couldn’t make it. I really enjoyed this experience; everyone I met was wonderful & friendly".


Global Architecture and Design Newsletter, Spring 2014, Issue III

6a010536fa9ded970b01a3fce6e774970b-800wiBarcelona Global Architecture and Design Final Review


Last week students in the Global AD program in Barcelona presented this semester’s work: proposals for the future transformation of the Besòs river of Barcelona.

The review stage included 1 to 1, 1 to 100, 1 to 500, 1 to 1000 and 1 to 2000 scale documents, models and materials.  Presentations included videos, animations and digital assets and processes while students’ prototypes showed a combination of advanced technological methods: laser cutting, 3D printing, CNC milling and Arduino.Gad_news3_3

Getting ready for the final review at central IAAC space  Gad_news3_8

 Close up of final models and site projections

Through their proposals, student demonstrated their knowledge regarding speculative praxis, transcription prototypes, digital tools and Fab Lab potentials; skills learned throughout the courses taken this semester: Future Cities Design Studio, Future Cities Seminar, and Science and Technology Workshops.  Gad_news3_4




Some students during their presentations

Along with their studio instructors (Antonio Sanmartín and Javier Peña), students were happy to have several guest critics: Maria Aiolova (Global AD Academic Director), Jaime Coll (Professor at ETSAB-UPC), Areti Markopoulou (Director, IAAC Masters Programs) and Silvia Brandi (IAAC Academic Coordinator) who provided them with additional reviews and feedback.Gad_news3_9


It was a wonderful conclusion to the inaugural semester of the program and we’re all looking forward to the Fall Global AD program!

CIEE Barcelona Global AD Team