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AUS architecture students leverage world-class learning opportunities in Barcelona
Sharjah, UAE. November 25, 2018— A group of 15 undergraduate students from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) have had the opportunity to be part of an intensive architectural program right in the heart of Barcelona.
Now in its second year, the semester-abroad program has been designed to expose students to the culture and history of both the art and architecture of Barcelona while being able to experience it firsthand. Besides staying in Barcelona, students have made short study trips to Olot, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Madrid, Girona and Andalusia.
Led by Dr. Igor Peraza, Venezuelan-born Professor of Practice from the Department of Architecture, along with local practitioners and professors, the semester-abroad program in Barcelona reinforces the college’s commitment to provide world-class learning opportunities in architecture and design, and ensuring graduates receive real-world experience throughout their studies at AUS.
“Our students have been given the ability to whole-heartedly observe and absorb the art, architecture and urban typology of the city that is teeming with culture and historical relevance. Barcelona also includes an array of contemporary creations allowing for a deeper understanding and stronger applicability to one’s own work,” Peraza said.
The program comprises of a series of courses, including an architectural studio, as well as classes in Critical Practice and Contemporary Discourse, and Place and Culture. Students are also conducting a case study of the Miralles Tagliabue EMBT—an internationally acknowledged architecture studio formed by Spanish architectural masters Enric Miralles (1955–2000) and Benedetta Tagliabue in 1994.
The architectural studio project, “Rediscovering the Rondas” (ring roads or beltways), provides students with the opportunity to reimagine an existing space in order to make it more suitable for 21st century use. Students have had to look beyond the basic purpose of the existing infrastructure and speculate new and imaginary architectural solutions of the future city.
“Following a study of large urban lines, they have been able to identify individual sites and programs to create their own new designs of smaller urban interventions and buildings which could be more appropriate for public use,” said Peraza.
“I have been thoroughly impressed with the level of professionalism and ability demonstrated by the students in this year’s Barcelona program. They have been forced out of their comfort zone and have risen to the occasion, producing some truly remarkable work,” he said.
Throughout the semester, the students have resided within the center of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, where studio space and residential apartments have been provided by the Enric Miralles Foundation (EMBT).
“The close proximity to the well-renowned office has provided boundless opportunities for inspiration and learning new and unique methods of producing and creating. EMBT has provided further opportunities to the students by introducing them directly to their working practices and exposing them to their built portfolio and works currently in progress,” said Peraza.
Dr. Peraza said the most exciting and fascinating visit for the students has been the recent visit to Sevilla in Andalusia, a region which is best known for its rich contribution to culture and the arts in the medieval period.
“We had the chance to visit an outstanding architectural practice in Andalusia—the studio of Antonio Barrionuevo Ferrer. The students saw some of Ferrer’s own projects and attended a lecture at the Architecture Association of Sevilla. From Sevilla, we went to Cordoba to visit the monumental site the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, which is one of the most exceptional monuments in the world and a testimony to the ancient alliance of art and faith."
Fourth-year architecture student Rana Salah said, “The experience has been absolutely invigorating. The insight from experiencing a new and authentic culture of architecture has positively influenced my thought processes as well as my working techniques and will continue to do so for many years to come.”
For more information about the College of Architecture, Art and Design at AUS, visit www.aus.edu/caad.