AZORES: WALK + WORK WITH WOOD
Laura Briggs (Faculty, RISD Architecture)
Azores: Ponta Delgata & Ribeira Grande. June 10-30, 2019 (3 weeks)
3 credits, RISD Architecture
The volcanic archipelago of the Azores, situated along the mid-Atlantic Ocean ridge, will be the location and context for this three-week course. Because of its dramatic natural beauty, the Azores was designated as a UNESCO’s Global “Geoparks”, a network established to protect biodiversity, promote geological heritage and support sustainable economic growth. Sao Miguel, the largest island, includes Ponta Delgada which is the Azore’s largest city. It also includes fishing villages, agrarian pastures, hedgerows of blue hydrangeas, lake-filled calderas, the Gorreana Tea Plantation, and Cryptomeria forests brought from Japan in the 15th century during the height of Portuguese exploration. Recently, the islands have become home of an important two-week international festival called Walk&Talk (which will also be coming to nearby Fall River, Massachusetts for the first-time next fall).
In this course, we will examine the crossovers between our communities, and study the intersection of ecology, traditional economy, and contemporary cultural activities. We will explore the island’s rural and urban landscapes by walking and drawing, after which, each student will be asked to design an object or structure to be installed within the boundaries of Ponta Delgada that will support the activities of this year’s Walk&Talk festival and connect inhabitants and visitors. The works can range in scale from the size of a hand to the scale of a body, and draw from different disciplines depending on each student’s background, paralleling the goals of the festival where work ranges from the visual arts to the performing arts, through architecture, design, music or video.
Along the way we will explore the potential of the Cryptomeria wood from the island forests, now under used, and will employ it for the final project. We will work closely with local designers and connect with forest ecologist from the University of the Azores to understand the potential links between sustainable forestry and economy. In addition, students will be exposed to local craft traditions from wood working, basket weaving, cheese making, to embroidery as a means to learn from both past and the potential for an ecologically hopeful future.
Estimated Cost: $4,700 (includes tuition, accommodation, field trips, group dinners + some meals, museum entrances, health and travel insurance)