Summer Abroad in Argentina/Chile

ESO Hotel at Cerro Parana in Atacama, Chile, designed by Auer+Weber

The following course was held in summer 2013. Complete information for Summer Study Abroad 2014 will be posted (dates, descriptions, pricing) by December 20, 2013.

Set in the extraordinary landscapes along the Tropic of Capricorn, this studio explores the relation of architecture and landscape, at the environmental scale, through the design of imaginary infrastructures. A journey along the Capricorn line, a cross section of the South American continent, takes the class through five distinct geographies and their autochthonous cultures:

  • the Puna (Highlands) de Atacama, the driest desert on Earth, home of the most advanced deep space observatories and Chuquicamata, the largest open sky mine in the world;
  • across the Andes, the Jujuy and Salta andean foothills;
  • the forbidding Chaco savanna;
  • the Iberá wetlands, with its limitless horizon and enormously rich fauna;
  • and finally, the tropical Atlantic Forest of Misiones, land of impenetrable selvas, the incredible Iguazú waterfalls and the Guaraní mission ruins.

Tropic of Capricorn

Instructor: Leonardo Zylberberg

July 29–August 23, 2013

Information Session

Interested students should attend the information session (to be announced) and then contact Leonardo Zylberberg to start the approval process for registration.

Imagined Infrastructures In Extraordinary Landscapes

The remoteness and harshness of these imposing landscapes in the Tropic of Capricorn have preserved their power, and to a certain extent their ecologies, as well as the remnants of aboriginal cultures. At the same time, they are increasingly threatened by growing resource exploitation, the new networks of infrastructures envisioned to facilitate their extraction, and even by eco-tourism, an activity that while encouraging preservation, risks overwhelming local cultures and habitats with the influx of visitors and their accompanying service infrastructure.

As a critique to the traditional, economy-driven technocratic infrastructure projects that are being proposed, which share a general disregard of existing environments and cultures, this studio encourages a forward-looking, quasi-utopian design of imaginary infrastructures based on a visceral, architectural response to the power of the landscape and local culture, focusing on the potential of new technology, renewable energy, and ancestral modes of habitat.

The class draws from the examples of architects such as Lebbeus Woods; environmental artists such as Robert Smithson, Andrew Goldsworthy, Christo, and Olafur Eliason; along with others, as well as from experimental projects like Ciudad Abierta (Open City) and other contemporary landscape-sensitive architectures in Chile, which students visit on the way from Santiago to Atacama.

For the first two weeks of the journey, students extensively document the five regions through photography and sketching and hold in-situ short charrettes to register ideas, preparing the canvas for designs. During the second two weeks, the class participates in a design studio in Buenos Aires, at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, with local guest critics. The time spent in Buenos Aires provides the opportunity to explore the architecture and culture of one of the most exciting capitals of Latin America.


Undergraduates: successful completion of Architecture Studio 4 and instructor approval.
Graduates: successful completion of Architecture Studio 2 and instructor approval.

In addition, all students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2012–13 academic year.

Course Satisfies

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

For graduates, this course satisfies one 3 unit open architecture elective.

Program Fee

$4,750 + $50 summer registration fee

Program fee includes:

3 units, housing, breakfast, field trips, and travel/health insurance (see insurance)

Program fee does not include:

Airfare to and from Argentina/Chile, most meals

Please make sure you read the related links in full:
Financial Aid
Passport, Visa, and Insurance
Code of Conduct

In-person registration begins on Friday, March 1, for all summer study abroad courses. Students should register no later than Monday, March 25. If spots are available in the course after this date, students may still register as long as accommodations have not been finalized.

All CCA Summer Study Abroad courses (including New Mexico, New York Studios, and Texas) 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