Offered last summer 2014

This unique studio explores the relationship of architecture and geography through the proposals of imaginary interventions in some of the most extraordinary landscapes in South America.

Addressing landscape, ecology, and culture, the studio is open to students from disciplines other than architecture who are interested in land art, film, photography, etc.

Argentine Andean Frontiers

Instructor: Leonardo Zylberberg
May 23-June 14, 2014

Imaginary Interventions in Extraordinary Landscapes

In a journey through the most remote regions of the Argentina Andes, students explore the landscapes, ecologies, and local, autochthonous cultures:

  • Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of the American continent with its breathtaking lakes, glaciers, wind-swept steppes, and snow-covered peaks
  • Ushuaia, the last human outpost before Antartica
  • the Salta and Jujuy highlands bordering Bolivia and Chile, with their salt deserts, multicolor mountains, and their gaucho and ancestral Quechua and Aymara cultures

The remoteness and harshness of these imposing landscapes have preserved their power and to a certain extent their ecologies as well as a strong rural character and the remnants of aboriginal cultures.

At the same time, they are increasingly becoming magnets for eco, adventure, rural, and gourmet tourism, activities that encourage preservation, but risk overwhelming local cultures and habitats as a result of the influx of visitors and their accompanying service infrastructure.

As a counterpoint to the methodic structure of normal studios, with their extensive mapping and precedent studies, this studio encourages a forward-looking, quasi-utopian design of imaginary interventions based on a visceral architectural response.

It's a response inspired by the power of the landscape and the local culture, with its focus on sustainability and the potential of new technology, renewable energy, and ancestral modes of habitation.

During the journey, participants extensively document the different regions through photography and sketching and hold in-situ short charrettes to register ideas, preparing the canvas for their designs.

Students draw from the example of architects like Lebbeus Woods, environmental artists such as Robert Smithson and Andy Goldsworthy, Christo, Olafur Eliason, and many others, but mainly from their own imagination triggered by the experience.

Throughout the initial two-week journey, students stay mostly in remote rural and wilderness areas, immersing themselves in the experience of the land, its ecology, and its people.

The class explores the Estancia El Condor and the Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia and the Estancia La Bodega and Salinas Grandes in Salta.

During the last week, the class holds its design studio in Buenos Aires at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, culminating in a final review with the participation of local guest critics.

The time in Buenos Aires also provides the opportunity to explore the architecture, life, and culture of one of the most exiting cities in Latin America.

Early program dates allow and encourage students to extend their stay in Buenos Aires or expand their travel to other South American countries, or both.

View student video »

View student slideshow »

This class was extraordinary; it was not only an architectural course for me, it was a life-changing class. Besides architecture, I learned many things that changed my perspective about life and world.

The diverse social and cultural perspectives that we experienced were beyond words. The experiences that this travel studio granted me have forever changed me and the way that I see my design.

Being immersed in the culture, food, and people at these extraordinary sites will be an experience none of us will ever forget. This class was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

About the Instructor

Leonardo (Lalo) Zylberberg’s deep knowledge of Argentina and extended network of academic and professional contacts (in Chile as well), along with his passion for travel and for transmitting his native culture, inspired him to develop South American study-abroad programs at CCA that have become an integral part of his teaching.

He collaborated on the 2013 Hydrogeographies Seminar and Global Studio in the Argentina and Brazil wetlands and also helped establish CCA’s exchange program with the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella of Buenos Aires.

Learn more about Leonardo Zylberberg »


Undergraduates: Completion of at least junior level by Spring 2014 and instructor approval; for Architecture Studio credit, Architecture majors must have completed Architecture Studio 4

Graduates: Completion of MArch Studio 2 and instructor approval

In addition, all students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2013–14 academic year.

Course Satisfies

For undergraduates this course satisfies a Diversity Studies Studio or a Studio Elective; 3 units, equivalent to half, of an Advanced Architecture Studio; or one 3-unit Architecture or Studio Elective.

For graduates this course satisfies a Gradwide Elective or one 3-unit Open Architecture Elective.

Program Fee

$4,995 + $50 registration fee

Program fee includes
3 units, housing, breakfast, field trips, all transportation between Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, and Argentina, and travel/health insurance

Program fee does not include
Airfare to and from Argentina, most meals

Please make sure you read the related links in full:

Interested students should contact Leonardo Zylberberg to start the approval process for registration.

In-person registration is going on now. Students may still register if space is available in the course and accommodations have not been finalized.

All CCA summer study-abroad courses (including the New York Studio and Marfa Fieldwork Project) are coordinated by the Office of Special Programs.


Office of Special Programs
Oakland campus, Ralls 201

Nina Sadek
Dean of Special Programs

Carol Pitts
Operations Manager, Special Programs