As part of their undergraduate curriculum, architecture majors have the opportunity to spend a semester abroad at IE Segovia, Spain. The university hosts students from over 100 countries and is housed in the Convent of Santa Cruz, a national heritage site. Located in the region of Castile and Leon, Segovia is about a 25-minute train ride from Madrid.
As part of the curriculum for Northeastern students, we have two travel classes to Barcelona and the Andalucia region. In the beginning of February, the Northeastern cohort and a few other IE students took the trip east to experience Barcelona. Each day our class took the form of an architectural walking to
ur to see both famous landmarks and traditional Spanish markets. Through this experience, we began to understand how Barcelona took its shape, from the imposition of the gridded Cerda Plan in 1859 to the city renewal for the 1992 Olympics.
We hit all the classics: the Sagrada Familia; Casa Mila; Palau Güell; and other work by Antoni Gaudí, the modernist Catalan architect. We also saw less well-known and contrasting parts of the city, such as the Olympic Villa superblocks and the Barceloneta, an 18thcentury neighborhood on the ocean. Many of the sites were rich with Catalonian identity, such as the Palau de la Música Catalana, the modern skater takeover of the MACBA plaza, and historical Roman city center.
This identity was especially prominent because of the current Catalonian secession movement. Almost everywhere we went, there were yellow ribbons, symbols of support for the imprisoned politicians or the words, “LIBERTAT” spray painted on the concrete. I think we were all struck by how the history of Catalonian cultural and artistic independence has manifested itself in the movement today.