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65 posts categorized "Architecture and Design"


Architecture + Design, Fall 2017, Newsletter III

Fall semester has come to an end and the Architecture + Design students are getting ready for departure. These days, as usual, have been hectic but the students are now finished with all their final presentations and projects. Students on the Architecture track presented their final projects on the creation of a urban community garden in the central part of a block in the Eixample area of Barcelona. Their very different perspectives and final projects not only showed their potential but also different ways of understanding the city.

On the other hand, students on the Design track displayed their final projects in an exhibition at ELISAVA. Elissa, from Simmons College, describes one of her favorite projects which she completed for a course at ELISAVA, proving the importance of personal experiences while abroad. Please check out the video and subscribe to her playlist on Spotify:  


To students, parents, guardians, advisors, instructors and whom may concern,

It has been a pleasure working in the CIEE Barcelona Architecture and Design program these last 7 years but now it is time to bid farewell to the program. As announced some months ago, Fall 2017 will be the last edition of Architecture and Design, a program that condense the best of an experience abroad.

The nature of the program itself, due to the reduced amount of students and its academic component, which is very focused on the city of Barcelona either in project work for the Architecture Studio or in the core course “The City in Visual Culture”, helped the students get to know their new home very well. Barcelona, as the students learned, has changed tremendously through the years and this program was able to witness them all – from the construction of the Gloriès area, the W Hotel, the transformation of the Raval neighborhood, etc. Barcelona has been always something to be experienced and also analyzed, especially by students who are able to understand the benefits of this powerful association.

Also, the students' experiences in our host institutions, ESARQ and ELISAVA, were always challenging but eventually positive. There, students were given the opportunity to be immersed in another academic culture and they learned different ways of working in a more global market. The language barrier, the different approach to the disciplines and the immersion in a local academic context did not stop our students, who successfully adapted themselves to each challenge.

With the idea of Barcelona as a solid center of experiences and studies, the possibility of visiting other Spanish cities during a weekend trip created a much more complete adventure, such that students could compare and experience other realities in the country. The weekend trips to Madrid, Santiago, Bilbao, Valencia, Sevilla and Granada always provided an academic turning point for them.

Right now, it is a pity to be closing the last edition of such a complete and genuine program, and that's why it is time to be happy and satisfied with the work we accomplished, to look back and remember: remember the good (and not so good) moments, all the ways we changed the lives of our students and also to reflect on how they have also changed our lives, especially mine… since I’ve spent much of my time at CIEE working very closely with the students, who curiously taught me a lot not just about Barcelona but also about myself... That's why I hope to not forget anyone and want thank all the students and instructors that made this genuine program possible! Thanks to: 

Vanessa, Zachary, Vanessa, Thomas, Taryn, Shawn, Sarah, Sandra, Nathan, Megan, Marena, Megan, Marc, Lindsey, Kathryn, Julia, Joseph, Jessenia, Hailey, Erica, Daniel, Cara, Britta, Ava, Alyssa, Abigail, Daniel, Justin, Paulina, Sarah, Taylor, Sarah, Valeria, Leah, Christine, Shantal, Abigail, Zachary, Gerard, Ashley, Siobhan, David, Drew, Erin, Omar, Eike, Maya, Elizabeth, Alejandra, Anna, Diana, Gisbel, Eugene, Meghan, Skyler, Khai, Johan, Evan, Graeme, Mariam, Connor, Annika, Lena, Sara, Ximena, Nicholas, Alexandra, Damaris, Chenita, Shelby, Rae, Aaron, Marilia, Alexa, Elizabeth, Brett, Tyler, Mercedes, Emily, Caroline, Gabriella, Lauren, Leroy, Joseph, Zoe, Shira, Melisa, Gustavo, Eytan, Hannah, Lindsay, Gavin, Hannah, Katharine, Kristin, Jill, Britnee, Melanie, Eliza, Jacquie, Audrey, Natalie, Jamie, Parker, Christelle, Jack, Caroline, Giang, Elissa, Samantha, Ana, Kay, Jessica and also the instructors and former director of the program: Magda, Rafael, Judith and Suzanne for all their efforts and knowledge throughout the program.

With gratitude,

Fernando Janeiro, Program Manager, Architecture + Design Program


Architecture + Design, Fall 2017, Newsletter II


Global Citizens

Part of CIEE’s mission is to make active and responsible Global Citizens and prepare them for the changes and challenges of future generations to come. They must be able to understand cultural differences, and therefore, developing soft skills which allow them to be flexible and adaptive are key points for students studying abroad. Through all of the academic obligations and cultural activities that the Architecture + Design students have been experiencing this semester, some have found the time to reflect on their soft skills and thoughtfully rethink what it means to be abroad.

Samantha, from Tufts University, is an excellent example of how to be proactive and motivated while abroad. Besides focusing on her classes at ELISAVA and CIEE, Samantha has taken a very active role in learning the local language. Even though she was not able to take any Spanish classes, her interest in learning it has driven her to expand her limits and take advantage of her experience. In order to further immerse herself in the community, she speaks Spanish with her host family and even volunteers at a local school. Recently, Samantha participated in a language class with 14-15 year old students—a project that was more than satisfactory for all of them.

Voluntariat escola 1

Voluntariat escola 2

Voluntariat escola 4

Another student, Giang, from Temple University, embodies the spirit of awareness and adaptability of being abroad. Born in Vietnam, she moved to the US while in high school and has been living there since. Her time now in Barcelona is her third experience abroad, after Tokyo and Prague. But since her first one, she’s realized the potential of being abroad to improve her soft skills, level of adaptability and to be more aware about intercultural aspects and mutual understanding. Check out this video! 


Architecture + Design, Fall 2017, Newsletter I



A new semester for Architecture + Design has begun and students, aside from adapting to the city during the first days of orientation, have already started classes. In the core course, “The City and the Visual Culture”, students are learning first-hand about the urban development of Barcelona. In a combination of class lectures and activities, they visited some key places in the city to better understand this transformation, like Ciutadella Park and Montjuïc Mountain, where the Universal World fair took place in Barcelona in 1929.

Besides viewing some of the major constructions and facilities, such as the National Palace or Plaça de Espanya, students also had the chance to visit one of the most important historical structures from that World Fair: the German Pavillion by Mies van der Rohe. Considered one of the four main buildings of the Modern Movement, the magic and relevance it holds in the history of architecture is more than well-known due to its symbolic significance and the revolutionary design of its time. In fact, all the students had already studied it in some of their classes. Even though it was dismantled after the fair, a replica was built in 1986 by three Catalan architects in order to emphasize its architectural importance. 




Also, Jessica and Jack, from Tulane University, wanted to highlight some of their first impressions of the program. Check them out in this video!


Architecture + Design, Fall 2016, Newsletter III


With our final Fall newsletter, we want to share with you some of the final projects that our students did for their courses. Eliza, from Oberlin College, Audrey, from Wellesley College and Jamie, from Miami University-Oxford, enrolled in ELISAVA School of Design courses. Please watch the following videos and learn more about their work for their courses there!







Christelle, from Lehigh University

Also please watch Christelle, from Lehigh University, explain the nature and some of her ideas for her Architecture Studio project.

Christelle Christelle2 


Architecture + Design, FALL 2016, NEWSLETTER II



More than halfway through the semester, CIEE Architecture and Design students are fully used to Barcelona, and they are also becoming fully acclimated to the specifics of architecture and design in the city. Very appropriately, a few days ago local architect Genís Bargués gave a guest lecture for the program’s core class (The city in the visual culture), and he spoke about how having lived abroad had helped him become a better architect. Genís explained the challenges of practicing architecture out of one’s comfort zone, which he had experienced during the four years he lived and worked in Turkey. Following the idea of Iñaki Ábalos, Chair of the Department of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design: “We must fight against beret: settle in a place does not give certainty. The formation of an architect is infinite-ly more interesting if it is able to have the world on the head”.

IMG_1780 IMG_1787

This first-hand architectural and intercultural experience is possible for CIEE students too! This semester, Parker (Washinton State University) chose to bit the bullet, and he is interning with Demostudio. Check out his impressions about his experience in this video.





Barcelona… ¡Madrid!

The Fall 16 semester started a few weeks ago, and students are already settled and well adjusted to life in Barcelona. We are not wasting time, and on the third week of the program, Architecture and Design and Global Architecture and Design students went on a joint academic trip to the capital of Spain: Madrid. During the weekend, students enjoyed the wonders of the capital of Spain and they also checked firsthand some of the differences between Barcelona and Madrid. They now understand better the (friendly) rivalry that exists between the two most important cities in Spain!

Natalie, from the Univesity of Virginia, has explained to us her impressions about Madrid. Check it out in this video:  

We also want to share with you some pictures of our students during some of the visits that we organized for them, from the two most important art museums in the city (Museo del Prado and Centro Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia) to some off the beaten path visits, such as communal gardens, El Matadero Cultural Center or the Madrid Rio, one of the newest additions to the city.


Natalie and Melanie, from University of Virginia, during the walking tour in the center of Madrid.


Views at Plaza Mayor


Mark, from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo at Perrault's bridge in Madrid Rio


Visit to "Esta es una plaza", a communcal garden in the neighborhood of Lavapiés




Being a graphic design intern

In our last Spring 16 newsletter, we want to highlight Caroline’s amazing experience as a graphic design intern. For the past three months, Caroline (University of Tulsa) has worked 8 hours a week at Herder, a well-known publishing house in Barcelona … and two of her own designs for book covers have been printed! Watch this video and hear her talk about her experience:


Caroline, with one of her published designs

Looking in retrospect

While the Spring semester has come to its end, our students’ impressions of what it means to study abroad in Barcelona with CIEE will always stay with us. Please watch Beth (University of Kansas) and Emily (Princeton University) talk about it.


Architecture + Design, Spring 2016, newsletter II


As weeks go by, students are discovering the variety and diversity of Spain. In contrast to what one may think before arriving in Spain, this is a very diverse country. Our students have been able to feel the differences by travelling to two very diverse geographic areas within Spain: North and South, Bilbao and San Sebastian, and Seville and Cordoba. Whereas in the North, the students could enjoy and experience the newest renovation of Bilbao around the Guggenheim Museum, which has turned the city from the old industry to a contemporary city of services, in the South, they experienced the most traditional image of Spain by visiting the historical cities of Seville and Cordoba.


Emily, from Princeton, in the Reales Alcázares in Seville. The extremely detailed geometric decoration in stucco and ceramics and the calm of the open spaces impressed the students


At the main entrance of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, students felt the deep renovations along the two banks of the river.

IMG_0307IMG_0299Richard Serra’s Time and Space is probably the most interesting installation at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The long corten steel walls create interesting spaces in which one’s perception of space and time might change.

IMG_0467Gabriella, from Kansas University, taking a picture of the beautiful light coming from a stained glass window in the Mosque of Cordoba


The combination of Muslim and Christian styles in the Mosque of Cordoba bears good witness to the mix of cultures that has always characterized Spain.



On a  different note, our students had the opportunity to meet a few local practitioners and discuss local practices of design in contemporary Barcelona. Álvaro (from Outline Studio), and Mar and Carla (from Xurris&co) were invited to a CIEE round table, where the meaning, challenges and opportunities of being a designer in Barcelona were addressed. Issues such as the relationship with the clients, the freedom to do what one really wants, or how to get new clients were some of the main points of the round table.The local designers also presented their projects and explained their creative processes, all in all creating a very stimulating atmosphere for our students.




First days at ELISAVA (new Design track in English!)

This Spring semester, three CIEE students on the Architecture and Design program have signed up for the new ELISAVA Study Abroad program. This new program, taught in English, has been recently launched by ELISAVA School of Design, our long-time partner for direct enrollment courses in Spanish. The new program is completely taught in English and it thus provides students that don’t speak Spanish well the opportunity or being part of the local design scene too.


Mercedes, from Lehigh University, was very excited to meet the other international students and to visit the school’s classrooms and workshops

Living like locals, designing for locals

Shortly after arrival students in the program Architecture track started their classes. As part of their “Architecture studio” class, they visited Casa Bloc, an apartment building initiated in 1933 by the Catalan government with the objective to create quality, modern housing that met the basic standards of living, for workers in need. The purpose of this visit was to provide precedents for the students’ first project with Prof. Rafael Gómez-Moriana: an “ideal apartment unit”.

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Beth, Emily, Gabrielle and Tyler enjoying their visit to Casa Bloc

Unlike North America, where most people live in houses, in Spain most people live in pisos, or apartments. The apartment usually doesn’t have windows on all sides.There’s always some sort of communal entrance and stairway, and with luck also an elevator. Life in apartment buildings is much less private: the noise, cooking smells and eyes of neighbors often take some getting used to.

Yet, apartment life is the future of cities. The single family house is entirely dependent on the availability of cheap energy and cheap land, and who knows how much longer that will last. What can architecture do so that the quality of life in apartments is good? Bringing daylight into all the bedrooms and living and dining room of an apartment is an architectural challenge. How can apartments perhaps even generate part of the energy they consume from renewable sources? Can apartments be designed with some flexibility in mind, so that different kinds of households can use them in different ways? Can apartments be built more affordably, so that more people can access them? Can they be built in a way that emits less carbon into the atmosphere, thereby slowing climate change? These are the most important questions facing housing design today, and they are architectural questions.





The Fall ’15 semester has already come to its end and it has been time for wrapping up all the experiences lived in the last four months. As one of her assignments for the class “The city in visual culture”, Hannah (Tulane University) made a project in which she proficiently used the signs where visual culture is produced in Barcelona. Her work encapsulates really well her degree of immersion in the city and works as a perfect summary of this semester that has quickly come to an end.

In Hannah’s own words:

“I wanted to create a spin-off of the 10 B4rc3l0n4s by imaging how the districts of Barcelona could be represented in a museum. I thought it might be interesting to portray them like different rooms, similar to the way in which Gaudí’s buildings are turned into museums. I chose to represent district 1, 6 and 10 (The old city, Gràcia and Sant Martí). In order to create the rooms, I used images that I felt had a strong visual identity when I experience and navigate throughout the districts”.

Here you can check the original 10 B4rc3l0n4s promotion and Hannah’s spin off:


The Old city, Gràcia and Sant Martí districts in the "10 B4rc3l0n4s"




Hannah's Old city, Gràcia and Sant Martí rooms