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Students head to Chile for a fresh perspective on building

In the Summer of 2019, around 20 architectural, civil engineering and environmental engineering students from EPFL and ETH Zurich flied to Valparaíso, Chile, where they spent three weeks helping to construct the Pórtico de los Huéspedes (“Guests’ Portico”), in collaboration with students from Chile’s Escuela de Arquitectura y Diseño de la Pontificia Universidad Católica Valparaíso. The Portico is located at Ciudad Abierta (“Open City”), some 16 kilometers north of Valparaíso on the Pacific Coast. The goal of the program is to expose them to fabrication and assembly that draws on “low-tech”, hands-on construction methods building methods and an approach to architecture that is focused more on the humanistic aspects. “EPFL began working with Ciudad Abierta six years ago, after we put together an exhibition about this pilot site,” says Patricia Guaita, an architect and scientist at EPFL’s Design Studio on the Conception of Space (ALICE). Since then, she has been taking a small group of EPFL students to the site every summer so they can pitch in with the construction work. The students are selected through an interview process and obtain credits they can use towards their Master’s degree. The students told about their trip on EPFL Out There, the blog covering EPFL research expeditions and projects abroad.