Open City Research Platform

video: Lerna Bagdjian, architecture student – Music: Jean Viviant, civil engineer student

“Hands of architecture students, civil and environmental engineering students, teachers, poets, artists, Swiss and Chileans.


as a vector between the individual and the collective thinking,

as an interface between the conception and the creation,

as a mesh of several disciplines,

as a protagonist for the process.”

Follow their adventure on the blog of EPFL out there.

Applications should be sent via email to [email protected] and should comprise a brief letter that describes why you are interested in the project and expectations for the Open City Research Platform. All candidates will also be interviewed as part of the selection process.

Open City Research Platform is looking for self-motivated students who are interested in an experience that provides human, intellectual and physical challenges.

Applications will be expected until the end of April for ETHZ students with interviews conducted in early February and decisions made shortly afterwards

Founded in 1970, the Open City (La Ciudad Abierta) occupies a 300 hectare parcel of land on the Pacific Ocean, 1 hour north of Valparaiso, Chile and 20 minutes north of Concon. The land comprises diverse ecosystems including wetlands, dunes and temperate forests and is divided in two by a busy two-lane highway. Founded by teachers from the School of Architecture and Design of the Pontifical Catholic University of Valpariaso (e[ad]PUCV) as a place to explore the humanistic potential of architecture – as a poetic space making discipline and as a means to propose new forms of community. The Open City is home to 14 families who live there on a permanent-basis and is also the site of weekly classes and activities for students and faculty from the e[ad]PUCV. The structures nestled in the landscape have been developed and built by students and faculty over the course of the Open City’s history.

Le Portico de los Huéspedes is the first permanent structure to be proposed in the Open City in nearly 12 years and was begun through the collaboration between Summer Chantier and the e[ad]PUCV in the summer of 2014. An initial program for the structure was developed by the Open City members and responds to a need within the community for permanent space for both the administrative secretary of the Open City and for guests conducting research. In addition, the program responded to a desire to create a space large enough for the entire e[ad]PUCV community to assemble within the Open City itself. This program is not a set of fixed guidelines but served, and serves, to guide the project at its origins. Similarly, le Portico de los Huéspedes has no fixed plan or finality. During the summer, and in the intervening school year, groups and students and faculty respond to the existing conditions with tests and interventions that develop the project. This development is also influenced by poetic acts that take place on the project site that open up or introduce new prerogatives or potentials into the work.

Below is a tentative outline of the program we will follow during the Open City Research Platform 2019.

Lausanne Week (early July)

The Lausanne week is an intense period of analysis of the existing site conditions. This first encounter with the Open City and le Portico de los Huéspedès is supplemented with lectures that introduce students to some of the ideas defining practice and pedagogy at the Open City: the role of poetry and poiesis, observacion and the open-ended project. Site analysis is done through drawing (by hand with tools supplied by the workshop) and model making. Work-days finish with informal critiques where findings are discussed. During the week there will also be an introduction to the working and safety issues related to the chantier and to living near the Open City. Students will work in teams and one of the goals of the week is to already to create a group spirit that will develop throughout the workshop.

Open City (August)

The first days of the chantier is meant as a practical introduction to some of the ideas encountered during the Lausanne week. Lectures and events by members of the Open City community introduce students to the pedagogical and poetic approach of the school and provide them with an overview of the Open City and its architecture and community. This first encounter with the Open City and le Portico de los Huéspedès will involve drawing and observacion, site analysis through a poetic act and visits to Open City projects. At the same time, students will develop the analysis begun in Lausanne using information available to them directly through measurement and observation. During the first week, an idea for the project goals during the workshop will take shape.

During a second moment, students will undertake tests using drawing and 1:1 construction that help articulate and define the goals of the chantier. Each day will be punctuated by a group meeting after lunch when student teams will share the direction of their work and others will be able to ask questions. It is also during these meetings that decisions taken about the work will be explained and discussed. At some point during the second week testing will be replaced with direct interventions onto the site in pursuit of the goals of the work. Site work will be preceded by a discussion of safety guidelines on the work site.

Project Team

Raffael Baur, Lecturer and Scientist, EPFL

Patricia Guaita, Lecturer and Scientist, EPFL

David Jolly, Professor, Ead PUC Valparaíso, Chile

Romain Dubuis, assistant, architect EPFL

Invited Expert

Victoria Jolly, architect and artist, Corporación Amereida, Chile

Patrick Valery, Doctoral Assistant, ENAC IIC IBETON, EPFL

Project Administrator

Béatrice Bouy, EPFL –ENAC – IA-GE