(Ecuador) Earth Architecture and Cultural Sustainability

Location: Quito and surrounding Andean communities, Ecuador
Faculty: Gabriel Arboleda, assistant professor of environmental design (HACU)
Course Number: HACU (TBD)
Departure Date: May 30, 2016 Return Date: June 11, 2016 (dates are tentative)
Course Fee (tentative): $2,300 + airfare (information about additional expenses and financial aid below)

Watch video of Professor Arboleda's 2015 course in Colombia

Video by Ander Garcia

Course Summary

Through this course students will engage in a multi-dimensional exploration of culturally appropriate design around the topic of earth construction in Ecuador. Sustainable design literature generally acknowledges earth as one of the materials with the greatest potential for global sustainability. Earth is (at least in theory) a low-cost material that is readily available, and has an excellent climate conditioning performance. 

The course includes a hands-on component. Students learn by doing, becoming conversant about the basic technological and design principles of earth construction, at the same time as they reflect upon the possibilities and challenges of adopting earth construction for sustainable development.

Prerequisities
This course is open to all students. No background in architecture or Spanish is required. The course is interdisciplinary by nature, accommodating students’ diverse interests in ecology, biology, social development, planning, building, and other areas.

Eligibility

Short-term field course eligibility requirements.

Financial Information

Short-term Field Course Finances and FundingImportant information about fees, payments, and financial aid.

Course Fee

The Hampshire course fee is approximately $2,300. This includes course expenses, accommodations, in-country transportation, some meals, and most excursions and cultural activities.

NOT included in the course fee are the following: airfare ($600), U.S. transportation to and from the airport, passport fees, airport departure tax, some meals, and personal expenses. Students should budget an additional $1,300 to cover these costs.

How to Apply

Short-term field course application deadlines and instructions.

Full Course Description

This course explores the notion of cultural sustainability, a form of sustainable development that is also culturally appropriate: catering to the needs and ideals of different ethno-cultural groups. The course explores how the notion of cultural sustainability has been applied to sustainable design in Ecuadorian architectural practice, and how rural communities in the Andes have related to this notion.

We engage in a multi-dimensional exploration of culturally appropriate design around the topic of earth construction. Sustainable design literature generally acknowledges earth as one of the materials with the greatest potential for global sustainability. Earth is (at least in theory) a low-cost material that is readily available, and has an excellent climate conditioning performance.

There is in Ecuador a centuries-old tradition of earth construction, comprising adobe bricks, rammed earth, and pressed earth technologies. We study the material in some of the very indigenous settlements where it has been mastered. We also work with architects who, learning from the indigenous traditions, have proposed technological and design improvements to the material, and have applied these to low-income housing and other social infrastructure projects.

The course includes a hands-on component. Students learn by doing, becoming conversant about the basic technological and design principles of earth construction, at the same time as they reflect upon the possibilities and challenges of adopting earth construction for sustainable development.

Cumulative Skills

  • Successfully conceive and complete independent project-based work
  • Understand and incorporate multiple cultural perspectives on intellectual or artistic subjects

Evaluation Expectations for Students

Students will be evaluated on the basis of:

  • Short field reports and in-class discussions.
  • Design exercises: Conceptual sketches and renderings.
  • Building exercises: Constructing with earth material.
  • Engagement: Initiative, participation, and overall contribution to a productive class environment

Program Itinerary

May 30: Arrival in Quito
May 31: Historical context of earth construction in Ecuador and introduction to project and partners (Quito)
June 1: Present-day context of construction with mud in Ecuador (Quito and Latacunga)
June 2: Earth archictecture in its traditional context (Zumbahua)
June 3-5: Earth architecture and the notion of cultural sustainability (Zumbahua)
June 6-9: Building (Pujilí)
June 10: Visits (Quito)
June 11: Depart Quito

Travel Plans

Students are expected to make their own travel arrangements to and from Quito airport in Ecuador. 

Housing Arrangements

TDB

Predeparture Preparation

There will be 1-2 group orientation sessions prior to departure, detailing logistics, protocols and expectations, and preparing students for what they will experience in terms of Ecuadorian geography and society. There will also be a separate required session with GEO to discuss information and resources related to health, safety, and travel. 

Questions?

Questions about the application process or financial aid should be directed to Heather St. Germaine in the global education office at hstgermaine@hampshire.edu or 413.559.5542.

Questions regarding the academic content or itinerary should be directed to Gabriel Arboleda (assistant professor of environmental design) at garboleda@hampshire.edu.

Stay In Touch
With The Global Education Office (GEO)
Snail Mail
Global Education Office
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Phone + Email
413.559.5542
Fax: 413.559.6173
geo@hampshire.edu
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