Barcelona 2008

Introduction to urban design

The barcelona program was a semester-long overseas program for juniors in the bachelor of science in architecture degree track. the intention of the studio, which included field sketching, theory and language courses and travel in central and southern spain and morocco, was to introduce fundamental strategies and tactics of urban design that might act as a basis for more advanced study. using barcelona’s historic district as a laboratory, students engaged in a series of short yet intense analysis and synthesis exercises to understand the city’s form and how architecture interweaves and emerges out of urban fabric.

starting in the city itself, students mapped and “carved” urban voids as they walked using white paint on black sheets. following this exercise, students developed a hypothetical urban plan using the same “white-on-black” process but then explored their invented spaces three-dimensionally. afterwards, students analyzed, in teams of two, several spaces in barcelona to understand each space’s history and patterns.

in the last half of the semester students “repaired” two damaged sites in the old city: behind the boqueria and another north of richard meier’s macba. using lessons of the first half of the semester, students analyzed and synthesized new urban spaces and fundamental architectural solutions. ultimately, the students came away from the studio understanding the links between urban and architectural scales and how examining a site can inform the design process.