Azores | Design with and for Nature

In this 3-week travel course, students learned about design with nature, by designing for nature. The volcanic archipelago of the Azores, situated along the mid-Atlantic Ocean ridge, was the location and context.


Global Summer Studies
  • Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal
Summer 2024

Course Dates: Jun 8, 2024 — Jun 30, 2024

Open to RISD students, Brown University students, non-RISD students

2.5 GPA required. Non-RISD participants see eligibility requirements below.

  • Sustainability
  • Cultural Ecology
  • Forestry
  • Design Installation
  • Craft
Program Partners

Walk & Talk, Innovation Green Azores

Academic Credits
  • Architecture
Course Numbers
  • ARCH-1560-01

Included tuition, accommodation, in-country transportation, field trips, entrance fees, some group meals and international travel health insurance.

Azores: Walk and Work with Wood
Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal 2019
Azores: Walk and Work with Wood
Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal 2019

About this Travel Course

Course Description

Islands nations are at the forefront of climate change as their specific geography makes them more susceptible to the destructive power of storm and rising oceans. As the need for resiliency is accelerating, islands have the potential to act as incubators and leaders in green designed futures. This course explored design for nature, using the Azores as a case study.

In the first part of the course, we took several walks through forests, fields and the water’s edge of Sao Miguel, the Azores' largest island, to explore the cultural/ecological networks. We used walking as a means of observation and as a way to collect and generate thoughts. Each walk was connected to a series of exercises, including a performative experience with a Walk&Talk artist. Drawings from the walks were translated to a series of pattern drawings that document field conditions and interrelationships seen.

Taking from these observations and material explorations, students worked together to create a small Butterfly and Bee Pavilion that was installed in the garden of the Quinta do Priôlo, an organic farm and community space in Ponta Delgada. As a class, students worked together in teams to iterate design ideas that were presented to the members of the community and Walk&Talk designers. Finally, we will work directly with local woodworkers and craftsman to assemble the project on the site. The pavilion provided a home for young butterflies and bee hives. It was made of Cryptomeria wood and light weight netting. Together as a class, students drew from their separate academic disciplines to approach the project.

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1:1 Advising Session

Have questions? The RISD Global team is available to meet for a 1:1 advising session. We can give you more information about your study options, help you figure out which program makes sense for you, and assist you with the application process.

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