With love from…Directed Studies Abroad


More than 100 Azrieli School students – bachelor’s and master’s – are travelling over reading week to some of the world’s great cities and rural places.

The trips are part of the school’s Directed Studies Abroad (DSA) program, with the following faculty and instructors leading the 2020 tours: Professor Janine Debanne (Japan); Professor Ozayr Saloojee (Istanbul); Professors Zachary Colbert and Stephan Kowal (Barcelona); Professor Honorata Pienkowska (Bolivia); Instructor Gonzalo Munoz (Chile); Professor Greg Andonian (Portugal and Spain), and Professor Piper Bernbaum (Israel).

Here’s a glimpse of their experiences this week.


Students: Charles Etienne Dery, Etienne Bérubé, Alvin Kwan, Rehab Salama, Kristine Prochnau, Shelby Hagerman, Shaylyn Kelly, Brooke Zacharuk, Melissa Wall, Luke McElcheran, Ian Ngan, Sinan Husic, Catherine McBain, Dawn LIng, Khadija Khadija

“Istanbul is an incredible, layered city, with unexpected and wonderful and challenging – and strange – juxtapositions and encounters,” says student Ian Ngan.

Students of the M.Arch Options Studio are in Istanbul for 10 days for an intensive and immersive introduction to the city. The group is meeting with architects, artists, urban anthropologists, food sociologists, and more.

Activities include a 20-kilometre walk through Istanbul’s neighbourhoods. The group is visiting massive urban transformation and housing projects, and exploring the historical fabrics of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman parts of the city.



M.Arch students are in Tel Aviv exploring the urban portion of their trip in Israel before heading to Jerusalem and then down into the Negev desert. The group is looking at traces in the built and natural environment; recognizing traces of society, culture, people, place, and history that are embedded in the current spatial contexts of the city and the desert.


Students: Colton Chehowi, Gracious Chitenderu, Mathieu Denis, Ugo Lamy Labrecque, Calista Loten, Aidan McNaull, Mark Meneguzzi, Abir Makki, Juan Ramirez, Rebecca Rosairo, Goce Stojanoski, Victoria Broadfoot

We’ve tapped into the urban codes of three cities: Tokyo, Hiroshima, and now Kyoto. We’ve “met” architects from history class first hand: from Kenzo Tange and Kisho Kurokawa to Naito and Kuma, with Ando, Taniguchi, and Sejima along the way.

After designing courtyard housing in studio, we were able to visit traditional wooden courtyard houses here in Japan and discover the power of a garden, the grounded-ness of tatami mat floors, the fluidity of shoji screens.

Sketching, walking, and pausing in a temple. Bonding in busy train stations. Recovering energy in the town of Honmura on Naoshima Island, and finding joy in Hiroshi Sugimoto’s reconstructed Shinto Shrine there. From huge cities to wood joinery: things all come together seamlessly in Japan!


Bilbao brings beautiful sunsets and a merge of old and new architecture.

Vibrant buildings surround the steep cobblestone hills of Portugal. The streetscapes have a spark that takes you back in time. Dazzling lights at night illuminate monuments. Smells of the sea salt coast seep into the city.



Students: Zarina Chekh-Ahmed, Sonia Mataj, Ashlin Lithgow, Elta Pulti, Jessica Valenti, Priyanka Shah, Kim Langat, Sarah Goodman, Joyce Unaegbu, Teagan Hyndman, Leandra Goettmann

Touring the Instituto de Educacion Rural and picking ripe figs in its garden. Making friends with Bolivian students over lunch and a soccer game (we won!). A hike in the countryside of Quillacollo and a trufi ride back to the capital city Cochabamba. Visiting the inspiring mARTadero cultural and arts district in the city’s former slaughterhouse with its designer and seeing “urban acupuncture” in action.


Visiting the Barcelona Pavilion and the Igualada Cemetery.  Left: Inscription on Miralles’ tomb

Photo: Andrew Cara


Students: Maddie Snelgrove, Sarania Dabee, Waise Sahel, Sarah Pitoscia, Celeste Correia, Catherine Dela Cruz, Jaron Kasiban, Jonathan Caron, Arslan Abbas, Arielle Lavine

We’re finally back into civilization after an immersive seven-day journey into the Atacama Desert.

So round its track goes wheeling, to entertain our reason, this rope train toy that we call the heart. From Fernando Pessoa’s Autopsychography poem.