USC/BCN FALL 2011: BARCELONA CONTEXT NOW



The USC/BCN global program focuses on the study of the architecture and urbanism of the city of Barcelona. The semester program investigates the city’s important urban and architectural history, topography, infrastructure and systems of urban organization.  Students will be immersed in the issues of design that have shaped the city and will develop critical thinking and methodologies of analysis by designing in the urban context. The course of study will examine a culture committed to design and to architectural practices that engage and challenge traditional and modernist orthodoxies.

Barcelona is both a modern and historical city, beginning as a small Roman colony from the time of Augustus, and surviving Visigoth, Moorish and Frankish invasions. Its political and economic history has shaped its development, with the most forceful expression of its national aspiration occurring in the 19th century, as evidenced by the modernisme design of craftsmen and architects like Antonio Gaudí, and visionary urbanism by the engineer and planner, Ildefons Cerdà. It is city committed to a culture of visual design that has realized many ambitious urban plans. Barcelona is a dynamic site for the study of ancient and contemporary urbanism, as it a model of cultural activity and an impressive locus for new architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. Examples of public space and architecture from antiquity to the 21st century will be studied in the context of a city which seeks to project its future in dialogue with engaging its past and present.

Studies in place and culture are planned within Spain and Western Europe to expose students to a critical range of historical and modern examples of buildings, landscapes and urban environments within their cultural setting.  One excursion travels to Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht, and two other field studies examine Spanish cities in great transformation, Madrid, Toledo, and Bilbao, and new/old cities of southern Spain: Granada, Sevilla, and Cordoba.  In addition, both the traditional city and current architecture is examined in two cities on the eastern portion of the Iberian Peninsula with a trip to Porto, Portugal, to study works of Alvaro Siza, Souto de Moura and others, and Santiago de Compostela, the world’s third most important Christian pilgrimage destination and the site for Peter Eisenman’s design for the City of Culture of Galicia.

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