by Michael Cockram
Architectural education often cloisters students in an internally focused world of individualized design encouraging Wright-like bravado or Gehry-esque showmanship. The work of educator Sergio Palleroni challenges this instructional paradigm, and the profession as a whole, to confront a larger global reality and to creatively tackle problems of growing poverty, increasing population, and shrinking resources.
In his book Studio-at-Large: Architecture in Service of Global Communities, Palleroni lays out the culturally embedded process he teaches to his students by engaging them in real, global problems. He encourages them to develop designs by thinking locally and in collaboration with community members, using local materials, resources, and expertise.
Palleroni established the BaSiC Initiative (Building Sustainable Communities) at the University of Washington. While in architecture school, he had been drawn to the work of Jersey Devil, the mobile renegade design/ build team that pushed green building design when it still teetered on the fringes.
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The first Mexican project of the BaSiC Initiative was Escuela San Lucas, a school for an impoverished squatter community.
Photo: Jared Polesky
The students learn about alternative technologies such as rammed-earth construction.
Photo: BaSiC Initiative
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