Catedra Jorge Montes UNIS 2017

Roberto Viola from iVY was invited by UNIS to conduct a charrette focusing on matters related to globalization in architecture.

The short design project focused on the idea of learning to see, on appreciating the identity of each place as a response to the overarching homogenization the global condition brings.

Students from UNIS, Universidad de San Carlos, Universidad Mariano Galvez and Universidad Catolica de El Salvador participated in the charrette where they were asked to design two dwellings for stargazing in Roccascalegna, Italy; with the caveat that it had to have its genesis in some aspect of the Domus.

The participants were divided into groups composed by members of different universities and different disciplines (architecture and interiors) and they worked very hard in each proposal.

At the end, the mini competition was won by Group 1, composed by Pablo Corado, Marcela Balcarcel, Laura Figueroa, Elda Cristina Sierra Hernandez and Jose Gustavo Perez Hernandez with a beautiful project titled "Casa Tra Le Stelle", in which two 'fighting sister houses' capture the landscape between walls and construct an illusion with reflective water elements.

The catedra could not have happened without the incredible organization and support of the graduating class of UNIS and Roberto Enrique Sosa, UNIS Professor and Director de Estudios of the school.


SMMA Gallery Review-Spring 2017

The students from Comprehensive Design Studio had the opportunity to present their on going work to professionals from different offices and disciplines in a gallery style review.  

The workshop took place with the support of SMMA's offices in Cambridge, which not only contributed with the space and the logistics, but also with a substantial number of critics.

The students are dealing with a difficult question of connecting the past with the future in the city of Pompei.  A challenging project that has to address questions of identity, appropriateness and the civic condition. 

At the end, the conversations were insightful and the group of students left inspired and motivated to continue with their search.


“Community Fantasy and Future” by ASSEMBLE

Posted by Junko Yamamoto

Although the concept is not new, I feel that we have increasingly been holding discourse on the idea of “community” or something “shared.” When Ai-san and I were talking about Share Houses in Japan the other day, it reminded me. It seems that we are in need of re-defining the concept, or re-discovering its meaning. Our studio topic last semester (Kersten and David) was “commune,” and the previous studio with Atelier BowWow also had community-related design project (Kamanuma in Chiba, Japan). The discussions with those who we met during the Atelier BowWow studio trip (Hayashi-san and the local people in Kamanuma, Iida-san at Loving Pork Facility, and more), the story about “Ibasho Cafe” by Kiyota-san, and a similar communal project that Ueta-san, one of my GSD friends, showed us, and so on…  While pondering on these projects and stories, I went to see this exhibition titled, “Community Fantasy and Future” by ASSEMBLE, a group of 15 artists and architects based in London.  

The project is wonderful. It was awarded the Turner Prize in 2015. They successfully revitalized the deteriorating Granby Streets area of Liverpool through workshop-centered renovations of the abandaned houses with the local people. Their production process is unique and artistic, which they call “speculative design.” Although the definition may vary, they define it as the area between art and design — “incorporating design as a problem-solving method while approaching art as a means of raising social issues rather than of self-expression.” This is all “art,” in my opinion. This project seems to show the inherent role of the arts, which I believe is to “connect” — connect between people, between people and objects, between people and space (whatever the type of art it is). Art becomes the source of design, which may turn into architecture and/or products. 






ARUP work session

Students from Comprehensive Design Studio from Roger Williams SAAHP, lead by Nate Fash and Roberto Viola Ochoa had the opportunity to discuss their projects with Emma Rubin, Michael Shearer, Nicholas Rekstad and Aaron Einck from ARUP in Boston.

Their expertise in matters of environmental, mechanical and structural engineering provided a higher dimension and rigor to the work produced by the students.

The experience was a true luxury, not only for the students but also for the instructors, and it was  possible thanks to the unconditional dedication from the members of ARUP, whom semester after semester give us all of their attention.


Gallery Review at SMMA

Students from Comprehensive Design Studio from Roger Williams University lead by Roberto Viola Ochoa and Nathan Fash had the opportunity to present their work at the offices of SMMA in Cambridge.

The format allowed the students to receive feedback from professionals from different disciplines, from different offices in the Boston area including iVY Design Associates Principal, Junko Yamamoto and iVY designer, Thomas Barker.

The brief and intense critique sessions focused on every aspect of design, from urban/landscape strategies to the more technical layers related to systems.

At the end, the students left SMMA inspired and motivated to continue to develop their projects and with a much wider understanding of all the issues involved in the design of a building.

The review was possible thanks to the commitment of time and resources from SMMA who contributed with a generous number of critics and a remarkable and outstanding logistical support.

A total of 42 critics and 21 students participated in this event.

BAC Advanced Design Workshop: Visual Representation of Ideas

Our guest today was my friend, Ruben Segovia. He talked about "dictionary of images," ways of starting a project using images, and visual representations of context -- his observations of images/artworks, and the way of collecting and visualizing site information were very interesting and inspirational.

[Advanced Design Workshop: Visual Representation of Ideas
Visitors so far: 
Sasha Francoeur & John Berger
Ivana Beljan
Taro Kagami
Zhanina Boyadzhieva
Langer Hsu
Ian Taberner
Zack Matthews & Zahra Safaverdi
Randall Imai
Ruben Segovia
(More to come)


Copenhagen-Mälmo 2016

The Comprehensive Studio class from Roger Williams University taught by Roberto Viola Ochoa traveled to Copenhagen to get acquainted with the sites currently under study in the southern district of Sydhavnen.  The visit allowed the students to become aware of the qualities of this emerging neighborhood with a very particular urban structure in which building, water and parks are in perfect balance.

The students also had the opportunity to visit different sectors in the city and develop a better understanding of how it grew and developed over time.

In addition, the group visited the church in Bagsvaerd by Utzon and the Mälmo Cemetery by Lewerentz, in Sweden.  These visits were informative to generate discussion on questions related to ritual, procession, context, symbolism among others being studied in the current semester.


BAC Advanced Design Workshop: Visual Representation of Ideas

Our guest this time was my former boss and friend, Randall Imai. His presentation included slides from his talk at Urban Design class at MIT - Interesting discussion about 'diagram' from the urban design perspective, as well as his incredibly detailed, story-telling hand-drawings. The proposed use of space and the narrative are well articulated and effectively communicated through his 5-color hand drawings.

[Advanced Design Workshop: Visual Representation of Ideas
Visitors so far: 
Sasha Francoeur & John Berger
Ivana Beljan
Taro Kagami
Zhanina Boyadzhieva
Langer Hsu
Ian Taberner
Zack Matthews & Zahra Safaverdi
Randall Imai
(More to come)


NY Artist Visit

Students at Harvard Graduate School of Design with professor Ewa Harabasz visited two New York artists this past Saturday: Mark Dorrance and Anton van Dalen for the “Drawing for Designers: Technics of Expression, Articulation and Representation, ” course.


Catedra Jorge Montes UNIS 2016

The Universidad del Istmo (UNIS) in Guatemala invited Roberto Viola to participate in the Catedra Jorge Montes 2016.

A series of lectures, conversations with faculty and students were organized by an amazing group of students lead by Lourdes Monterroso.

As part of the event, a three day design charrette was organized in which a group of students from several schools in Guatemala conceptualized a design for a hypothetical Social Center for Refugees in Zurich (loosely based on a similar exercise offered at Roger Williams).  The exercise was lead by Roberto in collaboration with architect Roberto Enrique Sosa, Professor at the UNIS.

This was a chance for students from Guatemala to get exposed to other ways of approaching design in an unfamiliar and radically different environment.

A total of 5 groups participated, each with 4 to 5 members.  Each team presented a proposal at the end of the 3 day charrette and a winner scheme was selected by the participants.

At the end, the project named Ubergang design by Mildred Jeaneth Ortega, Byron Javier Cardenas, Maria Celeste Castaneda and Ana Marleny Carias took the first prize.



Final review at Roger Williams SAAHP

On Friday, April 29th, students of Comprehensive Studio for the Spring Term had their final review.  

The students produced outstanding work at all levels, from the conceptual to the technical, on very challenging sites in Chicago and Zürich.

During the final review, they had the opportunity to get feedback from many of the faculty members of the school and architects representing different firms in the area.

The format is such that it allows each student to have focused discussions on the more specific details of some of the technical components of their buildings such as structure, envelope and mechanical systems.


Work session at ARUP

On Monday, April 25th, the students from Comprehensive Studio from Roger Williams SAAHP, had the opportunity to discuss their projects with Patrick McCafferty, Michael Shearer, Nicholas Rekstad and John Mackenzie, some of the leading engineers from ARUP in Cambridge.

The hands-on work session is organized every semester and focuses on structural and mechanical systems and its integration in the design process.  Patrick, Michael, Nicholas and John have been active participants in these sessions helping each student refine and improve their concepts.

The introduction of these work sessions has had a significant impact in the work produced in the studio over the last few years, and have been a true privilege not only for the students but also for those of us guiding them in this challenging course.

From a pedagogical standpoint, the intention is for the student to learn to explain ideas and intentions to consultants, in a situation not dissimilar to real practice.



GSD Student Art Exhibition

GSD Student Art Exhibition took place at Gund Hall, Harvard University Graduate School of Design during Open House on April 8th. Exhibition showcased the students’ work from the course, “Painting for Designers: Techniques, Methods and Concepts” taught by professor Ewa Harabasz, with Junko Yamamoto serving as a teaching assistant.  

Japan 2016

Junko Yamamoto traveled to Japan with GSD Professors Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima from Atelier BowWow office in Tokyo.  The trip gave Junko an opportunity to meet and share experiences with the local people and develop a better understanding about the issues they are dealing with, the activities they promote and the future of the village they envision. Their wisdom, their respect for the land, and remarkable healthy and simple lifestyle is an example to be followed, and provided a great deal of inspiration for the work in the studio.

In addition to spending time with the farmers, Junko and colleagues in the studio, participated in a work session at Atelier BowWow to discuss preliminary findings and clarify concepts.

The trip also gave Junko the opportunity to connect with Ichikawa san, the loyal and meticulous contractor/carpenter/craftsman responsible for the construction of House K, with whom she discussed some of the changes happening in her hometown of Gunma.





Basel-Zurich 2016

Roberto Viola Ochoa traveled to Basel and Zurich with a group of graduate students from Roger Williams University with the objective of documenting the studio sites and seeing some of the best examples of architecture done in the last 30 years.

The students had the luxury of exploring in detail, through guided tours, several buildings such as REHAB clinic and Schaulager-Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation by Herzog and DeMeuron and the Vitra campus, which includes a collection of significant buildings.