From California to Colombia: SCI-Arc Bogotá

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Following the establishments of the SCI-Arc Shanghai and SCI-Arc Mexico programs, SCI-Arc launched its third international initiative, SCI-Arc Bogotá, in September 2016. The Bogotá program presents exhibitions and lectures that expand the school’s presence abroad while offering scholarship opportunities that bring aspiring Colombian architects to its Los Angeles campus.

“The aim of SCI-Arc’s international programs is to examine architecture within a global context,” says Ming Fung, Director of International Programs at SCI-Arc. “We are interested in collaboration and participating in a global discussion on architecture and design.”

Juan Ricardo Rincón Gaviria is the local coordinator for the SCI-Arc Bogotá program. A principal at Taller Paralelo Arquitectos, he serves as the director of the annual Feria del Millón and is a head curator of Voltaje, an art and technology show held in Centro Creativo Textura, a former textile factory in the Bogotá Art District that Rincón's firm transformed into a cultural center and exhibition space.

Last month SCI-Arc Bogotá hosted an exhibition of work by SCI-Arc students and faculty at the Espacio KB cultural center in Bogotá. Rincón and SCI-Arc Architectural Technologies Coordinator Marcelo Spina also lectured at the National University of Colombia.

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Later this month SCI-Arc Bogotá will present an installation at Voltaje, held October 27–30. The installation—which was conceived by Rincón in collaboration with SCI-Arc faculty member Curime Batliner and Robotics Lab Coordinator Jake Newsum—examines the relationship between nature and technology in a provocative way. Set within a parking garage at Centro Creativo Textura, the installation will comprise a 10-foot-square cage draped in greenery that hangs from the ceiling. Reflections in a square pool beneath the cage will reveal a robotic arm suspended within it. The arm will be programmed to spray substances at the plants that will alter them. In addition to the exhibition, SCI-Arc Bogotá will present a lecture by SCI-Arc Fiction and Entertainment Coordinator Liam Young.

While SCI-Arc Bogotá expands awareness of the school abroad, it also invites Colombian students to spend an academic year at the Los Angeles campus through a double-degree accreditation with the University of the Andes in Bogotá. Funding for a scholarship is provided by the nonprofit Foundation for the Future of Colombia (COLFUTURO), which is matched by SCI-Arc. COLFUTURO requires that participating students return to Colombia to practice for a prescribed period of time after completing their graduate studies.

“Students who return to Colombia to teach or work on projects become SCI-Arc ambassadors who are part of a network,” says Rincón. “Our international programs build strong support for our alumni,” adds Fung. “We encourage students to return to their own countries, increasing awareness of SCI-Arc while promoting our value and a sense of community.”