Past Program

Paris: Urban Design Renaissance Through Edible Landscapes

Paris, the urban oracle of High Art and High Culture, and innovation and esthetics, is writing a new chapter: The City of Lights is embracing permaculture. The Paris studio will open doors to creative thinking about how even our world’s densest cities might play a crucial role in sustainably producing their own fresh food.

Please Note: RISD has announced the cancellation of RISD Global Summer Studios 2020. Read more.


Global Summer Studios
  • Paris, France
Summer 2020

Course Dates: Jun 21, 2020 — Jul 11, 2020

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

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

  • Food Production
  • Sustainability
  • Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban Theory
Academic Credits
  • Landscape Architecture
Course Numbers
  • LDAR/ARCH/ID-1565-01

Includes tuition, accommodation, studio space, transportation, field trips, entrance fees, group meals and international travel health insurance.

RISD Summer Course 2015
Paris, France

About this Travel Course

Course Description

The studio will explore Paris’s relationship to fresh food production and distribution, sociologically, economically, and esthetically. As their perspective of sustainability, esthetics and urban immediacy deepens, students will develop physical strategies that promote the “beautiful production of greens” as a normalized part of the urban landscape. This is a RISD studio: the spectrum of expression is vast. Projects may take the form of ephemeral events, infrastructurally-driven design, or start-up campaigns. Students will utilize a variety of media and work individually or in teams of two to combine aggregate skills. Final reviews will include renowned figures of design, from the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban theory and product design.

The format of the three-week long course will resemble that of a semester-long studio but will play out through a more compressed timeframe of daily meetings. Students will be encouraged to utilize a wide variety of media, including but not limited to: sketchbooks, physical models, photo-documentation, field notes, installations, and digital post-production, to research and imagine compelling platforms for food production for Parisians past, present and future. In addition to a mapping exercise and a final project review, students must document observations and research in a sketchbook.


  • Sketchbook
  • Drawing utensils (pens, pencils etc)
  • Camera, or smart phone with camera
  • Laptop with mouse

Course Objectives

  • Research converging technologies that enabled the city of Paris to sustainably grow massive amounts of produce all year round
  • Analyze the impacts of providing high quality design to productive urban landscapes–how do fresh produce, culinary experimentation, and public engagement come together under similar aesthetic standards
  • Consider the critical interconnections between the built and natural environments as they relate to urban food systems in a city like Paris; define this complex urban ecosystem
  • Explore a variety of design platforms: from artistic to technical, from profitable to equitable, from ephemeral to lasting, from inclusive to arcane, from systems to place/object
  • Articulate design parameters and a scale for design intervention on an existing urban fabric
  • Develop and refine a conceptual strategy for Paris, and potentially other major cities.

Learning Outcomes

The format of the three-week long course will resemble that of a semester, a long studio with two projects that come together through a compressed timeframe of daily meetings, workshops, work sessions and studio reviews.

Project One

In the 1950s, French philosopher Guy Debord coined the term dérive (drift)to designate the experimental behavior in urban conditions one can use to wander through an urban landscape and “let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounter they find there”. As a technique in psychogeography, the dérive allows for the study of the city in relation to one’s emotional states, which together create situations.

In Project One students will be practicing the techniques of the dérive, adapted to observations of spatial adjacency and the requirement of light for traditional cultivation. We will wander through specific examples of productive landscape, both historic and contemporary with consideration to the relationship of the built environment and the infrastructures that shaped the history and development of food systems in Paris. The group will work creatively and experimentally assemble a series of personal cartographies (or mappings) around their preliminary observations of Paris. But where the dérive recorded collaged experiences, we will bridge adjacencies and identify potential areas for edible landscapes.

Returning back to studio, students will generate mappings through a combination of digital/analogue drawing, three-dimensional models, and text. This work will begin to ask the questions needed to develop a critical proposal and narrative, forming the basis for Project Two.

Project Two

In Project 2, we will build upon our research of productive landscape strategies in Paris, individual cartographies, and narratives to cultivate innovative opportunities for growing food in urban environments. Based on individual interests, proposals may take on multiple forms of production including; site design, food systems analysis + planning strategies, communication + education, product design, etc. Students will spend their final week in the design studio intensely refining their concept narratives and physically representing them. There will be multiple group and individual critiques throughout the final week. Students will also rely on each other’s diverse expertise to advance their projects and skills.


To participate in RISD Global Summer Studios, all students are required to stay in RISD- provided housing for the duration of the course. Students will be accommodated in double/triple occupancy rooms with shared bathrooms.


RISD Students

If your current cumulative GPA is 2.5 or above, you are eligible for registration. If your current cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, you must first contact the Registrar at to seek exception to this academic policy.

Non-RISD Participants

If you are a college student currently enrolled in another art/design college or institution around the world, or a professional practicing in the field, you are eligible for registration. We will collect a recommendation/support form from your institution/workplace.

In order to register for RISD Global summer studies, you are expected to have a high level of English (speech, writing, and comprehension) as all coursework and critique is delivered in English.

Attendance Policy

Global Summer Studios are three weeks long and take place in June/July, and you are required to attend all program activities scheduled during the travel course. RISD Global Summer Studios comply with RISD class attendance policy. In case of unexcused or multiple absences, you may be removed from the course, given a grade of “W" (withdrawal) or a grade of “F” (fail).

Withdrawal Policy

Requesting to withdraw from a RISD off-campus global learning program, including RISD Global Summer Studios, prior to the start of the course is highly discouraged and requires a formal process outlined in the RISD course withdrawal policy. It is not possible for a student to drop a RISD Global Summer Studios travel course via the standard Add/Drop process after it has commenced. In the case of unforeseen and extenuating circumstances (and only after students have spoken with the faculty lead and RISD Global for approval to withdraw from the program), students should be aware that no refund will be issued.

More Info

In order to reserve a seat, a non-refundable deposit of $1,500 is required at time of application submittal. Students will have 30 days from the date of their deposit to submit full payment. Students that fail to make full payment by their deadline will forfeit their $1,500 deposit and their seat in the course. New application submissions starting April 1 are not eligible to make a deposit and must make full payment by April 12, 2020.

All RISD students enrolled in RISD and other full degree schools/universities are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in Global Summer Studios. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is required for all RISD students. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course.

In cases where summer travel courses and studios do not reach full capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Global Summer Studios courses until the course is confirmed to run starting April 13, 2020.

Apply to Global Summer Studios

For summer 2021, RISD Global is offering 4 creative and culturally immersive art and design courses, all taught virtually for 3 weeks between June 7 – 25.

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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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