Past Program

Mexico: Material Propositions: Oaxaca

The primary focus of this studio is to weave together cultural research, material exploration, and full-scale construction to explore the resonance between traditional craft practices and contemporary techniques of design.

Led by Silvia Acosta (Professor, RISD Architecture)


Wintersession Travel Course
  • Oaxaca, Mexico
Winter 2020

Estimated dates—final dates to be announced.

Course Dates: Jan 2, 2020 — Feb 7, 2020

Open to RISD students, Brown University students

Minimum 2.5 GPA required. Open to sophomore and above.

  • Art
  • Design
  • Craft
  • Materials
  • Architecture
Academic Credits
  • Architecture
Course Numbers
  • ARCH-1500

Includes accommodation, field trips, local transportation, museum entrances, health and travel insurance. Airfare not included.

Mexico: Material Propositions Oaxaca
Oaxaca, Mexico 2020
Mexico: Material Propositions Oaxaca
Oaxaca, Mexico 2020
Mexico: Material Propositions Oaxaca
Oaxaca, Mexico 2020

About this Travel Course

In this course, students will be exposed to materials based on the vernacular of the area-adobe, stone, brick, lime, bamboo, and locally made encaustic tiles-and introduced to ways in which to translate their properties into new applications and processes of assembly. The goal is to engage participants in the design of a collaborative project while understanding the culture and interests of the community it will serve. These hands-on explorations will be facilitated by community-based partners in the spirit of generating local innovation. The secondary component of the course will provide an opportunity for observation and visual transcription of experience through drawing and other forms of 2-D material work informed by local resources. Fieldwork will be supported by visits to cultural sites, and daily discussions will address the use of materials in design as a force to promote reimagining their applications.

Oaxaca City is situated in the mountains midway between Mexico City and the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO in recognition of its historic buildings and archaeological sites. The city's colonial history is intertwined with indigenous cultures that reside along the city edges. It is also the source of a rich contemporary art scene rooted in the current political and social climate of the area. Home to an extensive network of art centers, cultural institutions, and artisanal crafts, the place provides a rich inventory of opportunities for material observation, experimentation, and making.

Local Partners: Root Studio

Our local partners, Root Studio, produced this incredible short film documenting this collaborative project between Root Studio and RISD Architecture!

Apply to a Wintersession Travel Course

The application for Wintersession Travel Courses 2024 is now closed.

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1:1 Advising Session

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