Architecture & Urban Planning: Spring Travel Courses
These international travel courses are an essential part of Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning'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.
The spring travel courses are available to all U-M students. See course descriptions for specific eligibility requirements for individual courses. If you have questions about eligibility requirements or content for a specific course, please contact the faculty leader. When making your course choices, please confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements for each course (listed below).
Each course will be for three credit hours. These are the courses offered in 2019:
Architectural Identity: Celestial Terrestrial Scrutinies
Immigrants have traversed the earth, in constant motion, as nomadic societies and/or in pursuit of better futures for as long as we have attempted to understand how human beings make place. In an attempt to understand the past, current, and future situations of immigration we loop back 12,000-15,000 years ago to settlements and societies that produced cultural identity through temporal markings of the horizon, between the celestial and the terrestial. This spring will be an immersion into the timeless and deep presence of these ancient societies. Mexico City will provide a framework for introducing the previous architecture identities travel courses and how contemporary and modern architecture still learns from these ancient cultural productions. The city of Oaxaca will serve as a preparatory threshold to the ancient structures and landscapes of the Aztecs, Olmecs, Mayans, and Incas that we will engage as we travel the perimeter of the Yucatan peninsula.
Architectures for Content
This studio will be traveling to Mexico City, Mexico and La Havana, Cuba looking at ‘architectures for content’, buildings and environments whose primary function is to contain stuff. This studio is interested in discerning typologies of accumulation / organization / display and will be analyzing how these spaces differ from buildings with other priorities. Contents will range from contemporary art to cultural archives to commercial inventories. As we visit these buildings/spaces we will be asking: how does each one of them approach the problem of content? and what are the socio-spatial conditions consequently created? We are interested in how we learn, perform or improvise our behavior towards content. This studio will use objects as proxy to understand architecture and the larger social frames within which architecture exists
Structured as an expedition over road and waterway, this travel course seeks to understand the “complex utopia” of the Nordic Countries and Baltic States through the remarkable design cultures and built environment of each destination. Our 25-day circumnavigation will begin and conclude in Oslo, Norway, the first of many waterfront cities on our route. In each major city we’ll spend several intensive days visiting firms and immersing ourselves in the design culture of the region. Traveling by automobile will allow students to experience smaller towns and spontaneous points of interest along the route.
- Destinations: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark
- Travel Dates: May 10 - June 4
- Eligibility: Any Graduate and Undergraduate students interested in Architecture and Design
- Instructor: Peter Halquist
- Further course information
Cultural Landscape of Andalucía, Spain
This studio will travel to southern Spain to visit sites that have shaped the cultural landscape of that particular region. This region’s architecture is characterized by many epochs, urban conditions, religions, and cultural practices. Its primary location on the Mediterranean and short distance from North Africa played an important role in its spatial and cultural dynamics. We will visit the cities of Córdoba, Sevilla, Granada, and Cádiz and will take day excursions to small towns and sites around these cities.
- Destinations: Spain
- Travel Dates: May 13 - June 3
- Eligibility: Graduate and upper level Undergraduate students in Architecture, Urban Planning, History, Political Science, Art, Humanities, International Studies, Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Ecology, Landscape
- Instructor: Athar Mufreh
- Further course information
Caution: Objects in this mirror may be closer than they appear!
Nostalgia born of the immensity of the Texan hills and the sierras of New Mexico: gliding down the freeway, smash hits on the Chrysler stereo, heatwave. Snap shots aren’t enough. We’d need the whole film of the trip in real time, including the unbearable heat and the music. We’d have to replay it all from end to end at home in a darkened room, rediscover the magic of the freeways and the distance and the ice-cold AC in the desert and the speed and live it all again on the video at home in real time, not simply for the pleasure of remembering but because the fascination of senseless repetition is already present in the abstraction of the journey. The unfolding of the desert is infinitely close to the timelessness of film...
Jean Baudrillard - America
DOMESTIC DOMESTIC will employ the "road trip" as a research model. Covering this vast swath of land by car will allow us to intimately grasp the movement patterns and subsequent occupational overlaps of prominent American artists & architects. Traveling through most of the US, students will use Jean Baudrillard’s America as a guide through which to view and inhabit major works of domesticity and large-scale artworks. Site Visits to Marfa will focus on Donald Judd’s departure from New York to rural Texas, culminating in a “housing” workshop run by the Chinati Foundation. Here, students will learn how Judd transformed a decommissioned WW2 military base through the imbrication of sculpture and building. From there, students will lodge at Walter De Maria’s “Lightning Field” run by the DIA art foundation. During this time, students will participate in manufacturing models that expand on the idea of art involving a process that occurs atmospherically. The Spiral Jetty and Sun tunnels will allow students to gain insight into art’s separation from the “gallery space” and understand time as described through the encounters of Baudrillard and Smithson. Following up with a tour of both Frank Gehry’s and Thom Mayne’s recently built houses, students will wrap up in LA, visiting a series of mid-century modern masterpieces.
- Destinations: United States
- Travel Dates: May 10 - May 31
- Eligibility: Programs majoring in art and design at any level of study are eligible to take the course.
- Instructor: Jeff Halstead
- Further course information
Double Dutch will travel throughout the Netherlands and Northern Belgium, traversing landscapes created by the hydrological infrastructures of the Dutch delta and examining the architecture and urbanism in and around the Randstad megalopolis. We will visit Amsterdam, Almere, Hilversum, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ghent, Delft, and the Hague to interrogate the super-positionings and blurrings between the urban and landscape conditions of the region and study how they can serve as models for a future of climatic precarity. We will supplement this research with historical and contemporary movements from Dutch Golden Age painting, to fortification infrastructures, Amsterdam School expressionism, De Stijl, post-war Structuralism, the immensely influential “Super Dutch” architects, and contemporary art and architecture production. We will approach the course deliverables through techniques of documentation and reportage, compiling a visual and textual dossier of information for assembly into an exhibition.
north, south, high, low, hot, cold, wet, dry: or Climates & Their In-between.
Geographically, Chile occupies a long, narrow strip of land. Stretching over 2,670 miles south to north, this unique strip of land encompasses a remarkable variety of climates, from the frigid, icy Austral Zone to the desolate, waterless milieus of the Great-Far North. Still, the drama of the 200 mile east-west axis does not disappoint, bordered by the Andes to the East and the Pacific Ocean to its West.
This travel course proposes to study, confront, and understand varying climates with an emphasis on the adaptive-humans that inhabit these drastic climates, often times with little to no mechanical equipment. Our journey will begin in the Antarctic climates of Southern Patagonia. Moving upwards towards a central zone, we will explore the sharp drama of east to west, moving through the Andes towards the Pacific. We will end our journey, closest to the Equator, embraced by the solemn warmth of the Atacama Desert. In full, the journey will encompass a variety of climates that together will inform our understandings of north, south, high, low, hot, cold, wet, dry. The nature of the journey will require students to confront a variety of weathers and terrains.
Students may work alone or in pairs. Throughout our journey students will construct large-scale (1/2” or 1” = 1’) models on site. Students will be encouraged to use materials found on site: ice, sand, water, steam, natural material, etc. to depict a room that exemplifies how inhabitants not only deal with climate but also enjoy it. Each group should construct and photograph one model per region: south, central, and north. Each site should be left as found after the models have been photographed. The final deliverable for the course will consist of a portfolio that synthesizes our journey through model photographs, sketches, and notes.
- Destinations: Chile
- Travel Dates: May 6 - May 31
- Eligibility: All applicants will be considered. Preference will be given to upper level undergraduate students and graduate students.
- Instructor: Elizabeth Gálvez
- Further course information
Scenography and Statecraft on the Italian Peninsula
This travel course will investigate architecture’s participation in the geopolitical scenography of the Italian Peninsula. Within the palazzos of the Renaissance prince, the villas overseeing Italy’s agro-economies, and the alignments/misalignments of the Fascist state and post-war housing, the political arena of Italy has continuously positioned the built environment as an instrument of state-building. From Machiavelli to Mussolini, Italian architecture has been continuously re-appropriated as both political object and cinematic frame, instrumentalized to produce ideological, symbolic, and territorial identity. This course will travel throughout Italy to study these scenographic tactics and how architecture reproduces the spatial and territorial logics of power. In Milan, we will visit housing by Terragni, Moretti, and Rossi, projects that span from Fascist Rationalism to the new Tendenza. Traveling to Como, we will see the Casa del Fascio to understand it as an architectural infrastructure that produces a collective and participatory urban space. We will also visit projects such as OMA’s Prada Foundation in Milan and Fiat’s Lingotto Factory in Turin to understand the relationship between production and consumption in the built environment. We will then travel to Mantua and the Veneto to see work by Romano and Palladio, investigating the role of the villa as a colonizing agent of the Italian countryside. In Florence, we will see the palazzos of the city-state to study the relationship of power, patronage, and architectural agency in Medieval and Renaissance Italy. Moving to Rome and EUR, we will experience the symbolic and archaeological tensions between the ancient Roman Empire and Mussolini’s Fascist state. Finally, we will end in Capri at Casa Malaparte, a villa that expresses the monumentality and potential scenography of political exile and dissent. As architecture increasingly participates within systems of capital and power, these projects offer new opportunities to reposition the role of space in the construction of the city and its political subjects.
- Destinations: Italy
- Travel Dates: May 5 - May 26
- Eligibility: Graduate, Undergraduate (upper level - Juniors/Seniors); Architecture, Art, History, Political Science, Italian
- Instructor: Brittany Utting
- Further course information
Total Architectures: Art as Life in the Netherlands, Germany and Russia
The De Stijl in the Netherlands, Bauhaus in Germany, and Constructivism in Russia were three interconnected movements in art, design, and architecture that shaped the course of modernity in the 20th century. In this spring studio course, we’ll travel to the cultural centers of Amsterdam, Berlin, and Moscow to explore the legacies of these movements through visits to canonical works of residences, housing, factory buildings, public buildings, and campuses. Concurrently, we’ll look at how the artistic production from these movements have permeated all facets of culture. We’ll immerse ourselves in the locations we visit, engaging with local museums, institutions, schools, and design offices to learn how certain architectural ideas have merged seamlessly with contemporary life in these cities. The course will foreground the use of photography as both a tool of documentation and a storytelling and design device, with a photography workshop prior to the trip.
- Destinations: Netherlands, Germany, Russia
- Travel Dates: May 10 - May 30
- Eligibility: Graduate and Undergraduate Students (interested majors may include Architecture, Art and Design, Art History, Photography, Humanities, and Urban Design)
- Instructor: Peter Yi
- Further course information
All students who have been approved for a spring travel course must submit a deposit of $500.00 to the Taubman College business office on or before March 8. This deposit is only refunded in the event that the course is cancelled. (While not common, this can happen due to under enrollment, conditions changing at the destination making travel there unwise, etc.) Taubman College students receive a travel stipend of $1,000. This stipend cannot be used for the deposit.
Passport and Visa
For international destinations: A valid passport is required for international travel. Passports must be valid for six months after the end of the program. Information about visas will be provided after acceptance.
Click "Apply Now" on this page to begin your application. A checklist of requirements to complete will be presented to you.
Dates & Deadlines
- Application Deadline for 2019 Spring Travel Courses: February 7, 2019 (Note: Applications will be available to submit in mid December)
- Decision date: The final decisions of enrollment in each course will be confirmed in the last week of February. The size of the class is kept small enough to be manageable by the faculty. We make every effort to give each student their first choice.
- Confirmation date: March 8, 2019
- Deposit date: Deposits are due to the Taubman College business office on or before March 8.
For questions about eligibility and course content:
Contact the course's faculty leader (see Academics section above).
For questions about the program:
Taubman College, rm 2150 Art & Architecture bldg.
2000 Bonisteel Blvd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2069
For questions about the application process:
Global Engagement Team