Lessons from Azores
by Taruna Ramakrishnan
Azores Summer School experience
Sailing through the blue waters of the Atlantic, we, a group of 24, began our journey to the magical island of Pico.
From the get-go, the excitement and encouragement in our group was high and we bonded almost immediately. Our group discussed and shared respective architectural journeys which were interesting and informative. The way the course was structured gave me a fresh perspective about architecture.
Week one was packed with us going around the municipality, hand documenting the neighbourhood, mingling with the locals and understanding how the local life affected architecture. Alongside, there were continuous sessions with various experts in the field of traditional architecture, who educated us about the island, from its history to geography and so on.
Week two was majorly focussed on creating a proposal for the municipality by identifying the existing issues and using the data we had collected over the past week. It was exhilarating to see our work exhibited in the Museu dos Baleeiros (Whaler’s Museum) which was open to the public.
What I took away from the summer school
A major realisation that I got through this school is that the breadth and depth of work produced in such a short duration was essentially due to peer learning. I loved how everyone was helping one other hone their skill set and being a part of a different group in each exercise is a great learning experience. The sessions conducted by my fellow participants were simply marvellous and inspiring.
Alongside the intense coursework, we were immersing ourselves in the local scenic beauty and culture of Pico. From swimming to whale watching, sunsets to stargazing and having daily breakfast at the local bakery forged friendships and memories of a lifetime.
Over the coursework I learnt about how an island in the archipelago of Azores surrounded by non potable water built its civilization, how architecture in such challenging conditions is done and most importantly, where the red colour painted in contrast to the volcanic stones came from.