Barcelona: Program Overview

Experience the rich architectural and urban design histories of one of Spain’s largest cities. Through coursework, excursions, and daily life, this exciting program provides graduate students an invaluable opportunity to look closely at the critical issues of urbanization, including population densities, environmental impacts, and infrastructural efficacies, affecting the viability of cities in the 21st century.

The main goal of this program is to dive deep into urban investigation in the laboratory that Barcelona constitutes. Using existing academic and institutional networks, participants will have the chance to access the most exceptional places in the city and personally meet important administrators, planners and designers of Barcelona.

Hear from students who have attended the Barcelona Program and their in-depth study of Gaudi in this video produced by the Museu Nacional D'Arte de Catalunya.


This series of courses fulfills an equivalent semester for School of Architecture graduate students at UVA School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban and Environmental Planning as well as 4th-year undergraduate students in Architecture and Urban and Environmental Planning. 

These course offerings also fulfill the Urban Design Certificate offered at the School of Architecture. Participants will be considered in an individual basis under the advice and permission of the chair of the department.

Track for design students:

ARCH 4010, ARCH 4011, or ALAR 8010: Studio (6 cr.)
PLAN 5611: Barcelona Urban History (3 cr.)
ARH 5613: A Design Process — Gaudi's Origin and Legacy (3 cr.)
ARCH 5605: Urban Materiality — the Construction of the Public Space (3 cr.)

The following students will also be required to take an additional 3-credit course for a total of 18 credits:

  • Undergraduate Architecture students will also be enrolled in ARCH 4100 Design Research Seminar

  • Master of Architecture or Master of Landscape Architecture students pursuing a thesis will also be enrolled in ALAR 8100 Thesis I

Track for non-design students:

PLAN 7010: Research Studio (3 cr.)
PLAN 5611: Barcelona Urban History (3 cr.)
ARH 5613: A Design Process — Gaudi's Origin and Legacy (3 cr.)
ARCH 5605: Urban Materiality — the Construction of the Public Space (3 cr.)
ARH/PLAN 5993: Independent Studies in Architectural History/Applied Independent Study (3 cr.)

Select Course Descriptions:

ALAR 8010 Research Studio 
6 credits, 9 hours once a week 

The studio will be based on resolving an urban project in the city of Barcelona. This exercise will require landscape, urban and architectural strategies. Working in a complex urban area will force the exercise to go beyond simple object design. The goal of the studio is to design a mix-used building incorporating urban relations, public spaces, and infrastructures. The class will study and visit some buildings and urban design precedents in the city of Barcelona. 

ARH 5613 A Design Process. Gaudi’s Origin and Legacy 
3 credits 2.5 hours once a week 

Gaudi is one of the best known Catalan architects from Barcelona. He is famous for his buildings and his furniture, but he is not known as an urban designer. This class will introduce the students to understanding the city scale in terms of Materiality. It will be apparent by looking at Gaudi’s work how important it is to understand the laws of construction and framework for creating a good design. The students will recognize Gaudi’s legacy in Catalan architecture based on austerity and absurdity. 

PLAN 5611 Barcelona Urban History 
3 credits, 2.5 hours once a week 

The students will understand the history of Barcelona from its Roman foundation to the extension of its medieval walls. The development of its urban structural grid, example of Cerdà, as well as its current state of remodeling for the Olympic games, and the ongoing urban transformations will all be studied in this class. This course will consist of lectures, field trips, and practical exercises; specifically, we will develop a graphic interpretation of different urban studies cases in Barcelona. 

ARCH 5605 Urban Materiality. The construction of the Public Space 
3 credits, 2.5 hours once a week 

This class will introduce students to understand the city scale and landscape design in terms of materiality. The students will learn how to use the materials to resolve urban and landscape issues.


MArch, MLA or dual degree program graduate students will follow the prerequisites set by the curricular sequence of each respective program. Other interested graduate students should contact Professor Bailo. The program has some spots open to fourth year undergraduate students.

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