Our last semester as undergraduate students has finally come! To kick off what will be another exciting
semester in Barcelona, our class was fortunate enough to be divided into three groups and travel to three very diverse countries within Europe and take part in architecture workshops with visiting professors from Champaign! We had three options to choose from, where each option held their own architecture theme. One of our three options was Budapest, Hungary, a city ranging from Roman amphitheaters and Gothic Cathedrals to Turkish Baths and Art Nouveau masterpieces. The second option was Rome, Italy a city appreciated for its beauty and colossal pieces of ancient Roman architecture such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum, as well as the Vatican City which holds some of the world’s most prized paintings and sculptures. Finally, our third option, the one I had gone to, was Porto and Lisbon located in the beautiful country of Portugal.
In this city we were able to understand the beauty of its contemporary interventions designed maturely by some of the most notable architects of their time. During the time spent there, we had guided tours of many masterpieces completed by architects from all over the world. Of those, there were intriguing pieces done by Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, both native and Pritzker Prize winning architects, as well as Rem Koolhaas, one of the most influential architectural idols of our generation. One of the masterpieces done by Alvaro Siza is the Boa Nova Tea House in Porto, a piece that respects the waterfront and cliff landscape it sits on and almost sinks itself into the cliff giving a breathtaking view to the North Atlantic Ocean. Another very interesting building that we were fortunate enough to take a tour of the entire piece is the Casa da Musica by Rem Koolhaas, a project that largely reflects the culture of Porto and became the city’s monument almost instantly. After taking the tour, we later attended a Jazz Octet concert in the buildings main hall which was a great experience. When we weren’t visiting remarkable contemporary architecture, we were soaking ourselves in the beautiful weather and wonderful views to the waterfront in both cities, immersing ourselves in the fresh seafood cuisine and tasteful Portuguese pastries, and having an unforgettable time!
Writer: Jennifer Chorosevic
This past travel break, 12 IASAP-BV students, including myself, traveled to Budapest, Hungary to participate in a weeklong workshop led by Visiting Lecturer, Michelle Smearman. Budapest is an intriguing city architecturally because it is home to a diverse collection of architectural styles. Many people have ruled the city over time, starting from the Romans and including both the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empire, with each culture leaving its own mark on the city through architecture. In the workshop, we observed how the city’s architectural styles evolved over time through on-site sketches and journal entries. Much to our surprise, all of us ended up analyzing something unique, and it was great to see everyone’s work at the workshop’s conclusion. I personally combined my sketches into a collage using old maps of the city as a backdrop to analyze how architectural details evolved overtime.
The twelve of us loved our time in Budapest. A large group of us got an apartment close to the city center, and it was definitely a memorable experience. Being in the city in late January/earlyFebruary somewhat reminded us of home – we got to see snow again and bundle up in our winter coats! After spending a week there, I think we definitely felt at home. Maybe it was the delicious burrito place across the street from our apartment that brought back memories of eating Chipotle back on Green Street? Regardless, I’ll never forget my time in Budapest, both for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study architecture in a city with such a diverse and unique urban fabric as well as the memories I made with my fellow classmates.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the work we produced, you’ll be able to see it on display in the TBH Gallery later in the semester, so keep an eye out!
Writers: Grant Ley and Maya Krolikowski
Spending a week in Rome was a very fruitful experience for all 9 of us (even those who had visited the city previously). We were very fortunate to have Prof. Hinders with us, a true expert on Rome and it's architectural history. We spent our first day seeing all the ancient precedents: Roman Forum, Pantheon, and the Colosseum. Besides battling our way past the hordes of selfie-stick salesmen and tourists, it was really cool to see how Rome is such a layered city. Every time you dig down, old artifacts and remains of civilizations long past are at your fingertips. For example, the Altar of the Nation (officially called the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, completed in 1925) is built right on top of a portion of the the old Roman Forum. You can see it on the west side of the building.
The next few days were spent analyzing many churches by Borromini and Bernini, as well as the Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo, at the northern gate to the original city of Rome before it was expanded. Fun fact about the Spanish Steps: they aren’t actually Spanish at all. The actual staircase was built by the French, but the Spanish embassy is located in Piazza Spagna below, leading to the name change.
Prof. Hinders planned for us to see all four major basilicas in Rome in one day, a feat that required careful timing and planning but I am proud to say that it was a success! We saw St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, St. John’s, Santa Maria Maggore, and to finish with the grandaddy of them all, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. All of them were quite fantastic, but St. Peter’s was definitely the biggest and grandest (It is infact the largest cathedral in the world!. In fact, not only did we get to go inside the basilica, but we got to attend a PAPAL MASS as well! We showed up in St. Peter’s Square to a huge line, full of priests and clergy. Concerned about the line, our professor asked one of the priests about the line and we found out that it was for a Papal Mass, where the Holy Father himself presides. After some information digging, we found out we could just get in line and walk in, completely free! We got ourselves in through security and ended up sitting in the transcept of St. Peter’s, a mere 100 feet away from the High Altar and the Pope! It was an incredible experience to have taken a part of, and we all felt incredibly lucky.
All in all, we had a very valuable experience not only learning about the history of Rome, but doing a lot of architectural analysis and sketching. I definitely wish to pay Rome another visit at some point- there is so much to see, even a week doesn't do it justice!
Now we are finally back in Barcelona and almost two weeks into the new semester. Check back next week to learn more about our current studios, classes and electives!