The forested indigenous-owned land in the Piamonte region of Southern Colombia impresses by its extraordinary biodiversity, but lacks permanent structures offering higher education for the young generation tailored to the requirements of a life in the territories: governing their lands, safeguarding their natural environment and culture, as well as building a prosperous and empowered society.

Therefore, a future University Campus embodies the idea of an inter-epistemic dialogue which helps to ground the education in the indigenous reality. A primary objective of this institution-building project is to strengthen and disseminate the ancestral knowledge, know-how and millennial experience, and to buttress these efforts with Western science, technology and productive systems. Locating the University at the confluence of an Indigenous understanding of human interaction with Earth and all species, and Western environmental science sharing these concerns, the cooperation aims to investigate the compatibility of these distinct knowledge systems and the possibilities of merging them in fertile ways.


At the intersection of vernacular architecture and landscape – farmed land and rainforest – on historically as well as politically charged territory, the studio examines the potentials and architectural possibilities of a future implementation. Learning about the community’s needs and ambitions is as central as the analysis and documentation of the existing environment which will be consolidated during the field trip in the territories. Topics such as geography, climate, history, architecture, construction, culture, agriculture and education will be addressed. The intensive collaboration with the parallel design studio at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (PUJ) in Bogotá bridges international exchange and knowledge in this preliminary project phase. The two-semester studio with an integrated seminar week in October is enriched by guest lectures of various domains at ETH and exchanges with local experts during the trip. The design studio Universidad Piamonte aims at the creation of a spatial program sensibly embedded in the landscape, as well as the development of architectural ideas and concepts.

Seminar Week HS 19

The seminar week takes us first to Bogotá, where we meet the local mirror design studio at PUJ and visit architectural edifices. Our main focus is the 5-day visit of the indigenous territories in the Piamonte region, supplemented by hikes discovering the lands, meetings with the local communities, and lectures by local experts. The purpose of the seminar week is to immerse ourselves in this distinct physical and cultural environment, learn about all aspects relevant to the project, and get an understanding of the community’s ambitions and needs.

Dates: Saturday, October 19 – Saturday, October 26, 2019 • Cost: category E (max. CHF 1’400.-) • Number of students: max. 18


Applications are accepted until June 30, 2019. Students as of their 5th semester can apply. Please send your portfolio (max. 5MB) and a A4 motivation letter including a note, if you intend to do one or two semesters, to: studio-lacaton@arch.ethz.chConfirmations will be sent mid-July.


Introduction: Tue, September 17 / 9 a.m.

by Anne Lacaton, ONA G23    

HS 2019 Studio and integrated Seminar Week Poster