Bon Voyage: Travelling studios take architecture students to 10 countries

Jan 27, 2023

More than 90 undergraduate and graduate students at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism are travelling in February and March under the school’s Directed Studies Abroad and Option Studio programs.


Faculty and instructors will lead groups of students on 7-to-12-day tours to Albania, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Japan, and the United States. Plans include a visit to a First Nations reserve in Canada.


The itineraries span multiple cities and countrysides. Students will discover historical and modern landmarks, engage with local communities, and document specific sites that serve as the context for their design projects during the semester.


“The travelling studios this year offer many opportunities to critically consider how architecture intersects with migration, climate, land, culture, conflict and transition,” says school Director Anne Bordeleau. “Each location challenges students to think differently about questions that may ultimately arise anywhere.”


The remarkable chances to travel offered by the school resumed in 2023 after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.


Taking part are students in the Bachelor of Architectural Studies program in all three streams, Design, Urbanism, and Conservation and Sustainability, and Master of Architecture students in the two and three-year programs.


Many students received funding through the Directed Studies Abroad bursary program, established by alumni in 2006 and supported by donations. The school is grateful to all donors who help make it possible for students to participate regardless of financial barriers.


Here is a snapshot of the 2023 trips:



Leader: Assistant Professor Suzanne Harris-Brandts

Students: Arden Hamilton, Katherine Kolody, Simon Martignago, Anthony Papini, Samantha Pennock, Doliba Durkin, Lara Kurosky, and William Loizides

Date: February 17-24

Undergraduate students in the urbanism studio, Global Perspectives, will visit sites across Tirana, the capital city, including Roman-era landmarks and planning influences from the Roman-era, Ottoman-era, and Fascist Italy, the Ish-Blloku precinct, former villa of Enver Hoxha, and The Pyramid. They will also visit the coastal city of Durrës and some of Albania’s concrete bunkers. Key topics include urban renewal, adaptive reuse, and concerns over gentrification, displacement, and the loss of heritage.

Buenos Aires, Argentina


Leader: Assistant Professor Natalia Escobar Castrillon

Students: Alejandra Leon de Gante, Lauren Daniels, Melanie Vander Vlugt, Michael Mandac, Michael Uttley, Gerry Rafael-White, Chiara Muia, Nupur Agrawal, Aidan MacNaull, Arkoun Merchant, Nur Ashri

Date: February 11-19

The itinerary for the graduate students will include visiting sites at high risk regarding the effects of climate change. One of the crucial visits will be to the self-built settlement Rodrigo Bueno and the contiguous natural reserve, where the students will be developing mitigation and risk reduction strategies. In addition, the students will meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations, community, and municipal government. They will be joined by Visiting Critic Felipe Vera.

Cartagena, Colombia


Leader: Visiting Critics Jelisa Blumberg and Victor Zagabe, of Dark Matter U, an anti-racist design justice school.

Students: 10 graduate students

Date: February 22 to March 4

The group will visit historical sites and museums in Cartagena. They will also go on walking tours to learn about the architectural history, cultural, and social context, along with the material and labour narratives that contributed to various sites. Additionally, the students will observe plazas and practice methodologies of field research that challenge traditional modes of documentation. Key themes include material chains and evolution, radical storytelling, and extraction and exploitation of labour.



Leader: Instructor Gonzalo Munoz-Vera

Students: Huy Dinh, Sonia Xu, Laetitia Chang, Jillian Foebel, Lauren Newell, Megan Elekes                     

Date: February 18-25

The undergraduate students arrive in the town of Chiu-Chiu (Northern Chile). Over the following six days, they will visit towns, cities, sites, and company towns around the Atacama Desert. These include Lascana, Toconao, San Pedro de Atacama, Tulor, Calama, Maria Elena, Chacabuco, Pedro de Valdivia, and Antofagasta. They will also see the Moon Valley, petroglyph sites, Rainbow Valley, Atacama Salt Flats, and museums. 

Japan: Tokyo, Naoshia, Kyoto, Osaka


Leader: Instructor Thomas Leung

Students: Alyssa Pangilinan, Jessica Villarasa, Georgios Gialouris-Tsivikas, Ella Matesic, Ella Morkem, Anna Emond, Julia Doran, Marco Ferrari, Madeleine Bashall, Chris Jia, Rosario Khademi, Layan Muhamad, Nadine Mustafa, Kes (Ksenia) Korolkevitch

Date: February 18 to March 1


The Japanese context and its connection to nature — through celebrations, religion, gardens, and architecture — is used to develop the students’ positions. A regional theatre and interpretive centre will explore the potential of theatre as a space of divergent opinions and a catalyst for discourse. Parallels between the theatrical processes of set design and the role of visualization in architectural design will be explored.

Lisbon and Cascais, Portugal and Marrakech, Morocco


Leader: Adjunct Professor Honorata Pienkowska-Roseman

Students: Amelia Kreager, Angelina Jiao, Darion Dillabaugh, Devasri Baxi, Emilio Hechanova, Katrina Tarcia, Klariza Juntilla, Megan Haig, Nitsan Gan, Sharmeen Rizvi, Shoham Avigad, Stephanie Opdebeeck, Thomas Tallo, Yiping Zhan

Date: February 18-26

The undergraduate studio, Tracing the Intangible, will focus on the origins of the Iberian Peninsula’s celebrated and unique traditions and the influences on their development, including those of the Maghrebine Berbers (Moors) from North Africa, across the Strait of Gibraltar. In Lisbon, students will visit sights such as Castelo de São Jorge, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, the Alfama and Mouraria districts, the Elevador da Glória, Vasco da Gama Bridge, the National Tile Museum, and more. In Marrakech, they will explore Majorelle Gardens, Bahia Palace, the Medina, Saadian Tombs, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, El Badi Palace, and the Berber Museum, among other highlights.

Ohsweken, ON, Canada
Rhode Island, USA
New Mexico, USA


Leader: Assistant Professor Jake Chakasim

Students: Justin Liu, Krushalni Mohanarathnam, Dan Vu, Charlotte Egan, Lauren Liebe, Pamela Reid, Frank Hinoporos, Ricky Tong, Will Hermer, Ashley Mowry, Hayley Baric 


Date #1: Ohsweken, ON — January 11-15

Date #2: Ashaway, Rhode Island — February 4-11

Date #3: Albuquerque, New Mexico — March 5-11


The Indigenous Option Studio for graduate students will take place in three phases.

1. Students will attend a food sovereignty workshop in Ohsweken on the Six Nations of the Grand River territory, where they will discover Indigenous cuisine and have opportunities for land-based activities and to learn from local indigenous knowledge keepers.

2. In Ashaway, students will explore Indigenous agricultural knowledge and Indigenous building techniques. During a stopover in Boston, MA, they will visit the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the world’s largest Native American museum.

3. The Albuquerque trip will take students to Acoma Sky City, the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America, and the Chaco Culture National Historic Park, a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site. Additional site visits include historical Santa Fe and Albuquerque Market Squares, UNM’s indigenous Design + Planning institute and Indigenous architecture firms.

Rome, Italy


Leader: Adjunct Professor Lyette Fortin

Students: Cloé Beaudry, Isabella Cole, Marlo Fabello, Brooke Hewitt, Rebecca Lamoureux-Hill, Hanna Jenkins, Jemma Johnson, Mais Joudeh, Arvin Jowkar, Annika Landmark, Johnson Luu, Ailsa Macdonald, Natalie Murdoch, Morwarid Safa, Isabel Dales, Slade Solomon, Amanda Soo, and Kayla Wallace

Date: February 19-26



The third-year students in the Conservation in Practice Studio will visit and analyze sites that are eloquent examples of the various school of thought in conservation (e.g., preservation, restoration, renovation, and rehabilitation). They include the Colosseum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Arch of Titus, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, Marcus Aurelius Column, Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore, Castel Sant’Angelo, Mausoleum of Augustus, Theatre of Marcellus, and more.