Spring Travel Courses 2022
Peter De Yi
Living Structures: Urban, Rural, and Natural Environments on the Pacific Coast
This travel course and studio will study the entanglements of growth, maintenance, and care in our built and natural environments through a 25-day, 1,500 mile journey up the North American Pacific coast. We will alternate stays in urban, rural, and natural settings, while foregrounding two urgent topics of exploration:
- The stewardship of natural resources and environments, and in particular how that has informed the longstanding traditions and recent innovations in timber construction on the Pacific coast.
- Spatial, social, and tectonic ideas that propose new and alternative ways of living together, in consideration of bettering our relationships with each other and with nature.
Rather than just focusing on a grand tour of completed buildings, we will direct our attention toward contexts in transition: housing policy being actively re-shaped and reimagined as new architectural proposals, mass timber buildings advancing construction knowledge through incremental advancements, working landscapes being transformed by new industrial processes and environmental pressures, to name a few. This discovery through travel allows the class to identify threads and connections across different sites that are not commonly thought of together. This will lead to our own conclusions and proposals by the conclusion of the course, collected in the form of an actionable travel journal.
The urge to measure, divide, and control the natural world with the built environment has worked directly against the ecology and watershed of the region in which Mexico City sets its foundations. Ever since the ancient peoples of Tenochtitlan, this land has been a basin in an elevated valley that formed a series of rainwater lakes. In Mexico City, complex histories of colonization led to the development of a modern megalopolis on a lake bed that seeks to replenish itself with each rainy season. For years the development led to the creation of infrastructure systems to move water away from the modern-day capital, essentially drying out the lake while the previous civilizations alternatively sought out architectures more suited to working with the dramatic, and yearly, fluctuations of the water in the valley.
This has caused both an ecological, and humanitarian crisis in Mexico City, albeit a paradoxical one. Every year Mexico City is under the same natural threat of flooding due to a long rainy season. Although it receives all of this water, it remains scarce, to the point where many neighborhoods in the city do not have access to reliable running water, while simultaneously being the most prone to the effects of flooding. Given the infrastructure designed to rush water away from the city of 22 million, work was done to bring water in from afar, and from the aquifer beneath the city to resolve water scarcity, but this has depleted the aquifer. The city now sitting on a dried lake bed and an empty aquifer below that has lost the pressure to keep the ground stable has formed the city’s current reality - Mexico City is sinking, but not into water.
This course travels to Mexico City to learn the city not only through its built environment but to also gain a conception of the metropolis as one that faces unique timely lessons for architects and producers of cities as we urgently rethink the scope and responsibility of architecture, planning, and design. Students will learn from community organizations, designers, and architects working to address the Metropolis' complicated relationship to water and the various scales of challenges it faces.
The spring travel courses are available to all U-M undergraduate architecture students as well as all graduate students during the spring or summer half term. These international travel courses are an essential part of Taubman College's course offerings, granting students the prospect of visiting other countries while gaining access to facilities, groups and individuals that might otherwise be closed to them. The college has established partnerships and faculty exchanges with other architecture programs around the world in order to promote a global cross-cultural exchange. Courses are selected, organized, and directed by individual faculty members who have an interest in a particular country, region, or city. This diversity of interests leads courses not just to the traditional locations of Europe but to the villages and global cities of the developing world-and provides each group of students with exciting and unique educational, research, and service opportunities. More than a quarter of the students enroll in travel abroad courses during their study.
"Prior to entering the University of Michigan the only cities I had visited in my 22 years of life were San Diego and Cancun. After entering the University of Michigan in just 2 years I had visited Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Essen, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Paris, Caen, and Barcelona. I have been so fortunate."
Jonathan Hanna, B.S. ’15 and MUD ’16
"Traveling to Hong Kong, Hanoi, and Manila exposed me to an unimaginable collection of intense interactions between the human, architecture, and the city. We can read, discuss, and study images of these urban conditions remotely, but it is not until you step foot into these spaces that you really internalize the amazingly diverse ways in which human life operates within built space."
Henry Peters B.S.’ 18
"Being able to experience the architecture in Italy that I've studied in history is invaluable. I was able to learn from the masters through observing and touching the real thing."
Aimee Wolf B.S.’ 16, M.Arch. ’18
To get a more of a visual impression of what these courses are like, view images from our travel courses on social media. Please check out #taubmantravel on Instagram.
Past Travel Course Offerings
- New Natures for a Waterless Milieu - Southwest U.S. with Liz Gálvez
- Work and State - Russia, Scandinavia with Daniel Jacobs
- Liquid Landscapes - Iceland, Netherlands, Italy with Matīss Groskaufmanis
- Mare Liberum - Athens, Aegina, Crete, Sicily, Mallorca, Formentera with Eduardo Mediero
- Geothermal Landscapes - Iceland, Hungary with Jacob Comerci
- Water Futures - Singapore with Jonathan Rule
- Between Nature and Machine - Japan with De Peter Yi
- Chile with Liz Gálvez
- Italy with Brittany Utting and Daniel Jacobs
- Mexico and Cuba with Laida Aguirre
- Netherlands, Germany, and Russia with Peter Yi
- United States with Jeffrey Halstead
- Australia and New Zealand with Neal Robinson
- Georgia, Armenia, and Ukraine with Ashley Bigham
- Germany and USA (Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago) with Maria Arquero de Alarcon and Claudia Wigger
- Germany, Switzerland, and France with Viola Ago
- Japan with Peter Halquist
- Mexico City with Yojairo Lomeli
- Morocco, Algeria, and France with Brittany Utting
- Portugal, Spain, Morocco, France, and Italy with Dawn Gilpin
- Venice, Milan, Vienna, Prague and Berlin with Laida Aguirre
- Paris, Geneva, and Venice with Sandra Manninger and Matias del Campo
- Sri Lanka with Jono Sturt and Laura Anne Wong
- New Mexico with Sarah Rovang
- USA: Indiana, Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, and California with Jeff Halstead
- Mexico and Cuba with Dawn Gilpin and Yojairo Lomeli | Travel Blog
- Japan with Peter Halquist | Travel Blog
- Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, and Austria with Erik Herrmann | Travel Blog
- New Zealand and Australia with Neal Robinson | Travel Blog
- Rio de Janeiro and Detroit with Anya Sirota and Anne Choike
View pictures from these courses on Flickr:
- Italy with Neal Robinson
- Japan with Tsz Yan Ng
- Eastern Europe with Ashley Bigham | Travel Blog
- Spain with Ana Morcillo Pallarés
- Hong Kong, Philippines, and Vietnam with Cyrus Peñarroyo | Travel Blog
View pictures from these courses on Flickr:
- Brazil with Mitch McEwen
- Turkey with Kathy Velikov
- Singapore and Hong Kong with Claudia Wigger
- France with Clément Blanchet
- Mumbai with Mary-Ann Ray | Travel Blog
- Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark with Peter MacKeith | Travel Blog
- Thailand with François Roche
View pictures from these courses on Flickr
- Beijing with Mary-Ann Ray, Robert Mangurian, Robert Adams, and Zhang Fang
- Europe and USA with Teman Evans and Jennifer Harmon
- Ghana with James Chaffers
- Spain, Gibraltar (U.K), Morocco with Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy
- Thailand and Indonesia with Etienne Turpin and Meredith Miller
- Vietnam and Singapore with Claudia Wigger
- Florence with Neal Robinson | Travel Blog
- Barcelona with Ellie Abrons and Adam Fure
- Beijing with Mary-Ann Ray
- Camino de Santiago with Ellen Donnelly
- France with Anya Sirota and Steven Christensen
- Iceland with Orri Gunnarsson
- Japan with Catie Newell | Travel Blog
- Rome with Stephanie Pilat
- Taiwan with Thomas Moran and Rosalyne Shieh | Travel Blog
- Washington DC with Christopher B. Leinberger
U-M International Center
Visit the UM International Center website for information on additional travel opportunities available to students of Taubman College.