UVA in Spain — European Modern Architecture: Program Overview

J TERM 2024
DECEMBER 28, 2023 – JANUARY 07, 2024


This course provides firsthand, direct knowledge of the Modern Architecture International Panorama through an intensive program of on-site visits in Madrid and Castille, a cultural territory composed of a mix of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim elements that, with the later addition of profound American contributions, produced the first global civilization of the modern world.

The course complements the knowledge of architectural masterpieces and architectural precedents studied at the School of Architecture, combining site visits, lectures, and meetings with architects.

This program is open to students from across the University with a strong interest in architecture. No background in architecture or drawing is required.

This program is based in Madrid, Spain. The Spanish capital and largest city in the country, Madrid has a population of about 3.2 million inhabitants and is known for its parks, plazas, and museums.

Day trips to El Escorial, Segovia, Toledo and Cordoba are included in the program.

European Modern Architecture
ARCH 3500 (undergraduate) or ARCH 5500 (graduate); 3 credits

Sample Syllabus found here

The main objective of the course is the knowledge of the modern European architectural tradition through direct experience of a series of key buildings. Architectural knowledge has traditionally been transmitted through drawing and word. Drawing has been the main tool used by architects of different times, from the Renaissance (from Alberti to Palladio, Renaissance architects studied and drew Roman ruins), the Grand Tour of neoclassical architects, to the modern age (see examples of the travelogues of Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn).

Learning to draw is also a basic tool that will reinforce the competence of the students in the program as designers and will increase their capacity for analysis and critical thinking.

Understanding the historical development of modern architecture will allow students to place their interests as designers within the historical evolution of the discipline and be able to discern between their original contributions and the mere unconscious repetition of past experiences.

Architecture is a discipline in constant evolution. To understand contemporary architecture, you must understand the tradition in which it is part. Therefore, the visits will not be restricted to modern architecture, but will also include the basic invariants of the Spanish architectural tradition such as the monastery of El Escorial or the Plaza Mayor.

Hispanic culture is based on the hybridization and integration of many different races and cultures from middle eastern, Indian, and North African influences to Germanic and Celtic, and a series of profound Hispanic-American cultural contributions. Spanish culture is a social construct composed of a balanced mix of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim elements that produced the first global civilization of the modern world.

For the final assignment, students submit a photo log and one of the following:

  • Travel log with notes and a minimum of 40 drawings.
  • Essay 2,000-2,500 words about one of the visited buildings and its relationship with Spanish history of architecture.

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