IN THE LAND OF ÑANDUTí: following the lines, threads, and figures of the river

This studio will have water as its most conspicuous element. Inside, around and over it, we would develop proposals for intervention in an area of South America that is affected by major hydroelectric projects. The studio’s site is located along a segment of the Paraná River shared by Paraguay and Argentina within a larger area where three distinctive and important maps overlap: 1) the socio-cultural map of the Guarani people, 2) the natural hydrological map of the Cuenca del Plata and 3) the historic map of the Jesuits Missions territory, including thirty towns and associated agricultural “estancias” of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This triple layering which supports a distinctive culture of water, sits on the Aquifier Guarani – one of the two largest fresh water reservoirs of the world.

Work in the studio will involve the design of a complex public and institutional multifunctional facility that will also act as a river harbor to connect the international coastlines of the Parana River. As important it will provide continuity among the very important UNESCO cultural heritage sites on both sides. Special attention will be devoted to the use of local materials (a variety of hard and soft woods, basalt stones, sandstones, clay, natural fibers, textiles, etc.) for construction, which are plentiful but not fully integrated in current local construction methods.

This will be an exclusively Architecture studio. Students are strongly advised to enroll in Prof. Graciela Silvestri’s seminar Aquatic South America that will meet on Wednesday mornings.

It is expected that students will have a genuine interest in historical and cultural studies (i.e. history, anthropology, ethnography, linguistics, art history); in building materials and new materials research (where our course consultant, Salmaan Craig will provide regular input), and in building construction systems. It is also expected that students will have high architectural design skills. Reading ability in Spanish is strongly recommended as most of the bibliography is in this language.

A Field trip to Paraguay and Argentina is planned for Friday February 21st to Sunday March 2nd.