In developing countries, heritage sites in urban settings often collide with urban growth and economic expansion. Lima has more than 385 archeological sites within its urban tissue, the capital city with the most pre-Columbian heritage sites in the Americas. However, these ancient sites have lost their sacred significance and historical value; neglected and enclosed by walls, the abandoned archeological sites appear as black holes gravitationally attracting the encroaching urbanization. They occupy close to 5,000 hectares of public land threatened by urban pressure.

These incredible places must be reimagined as woven into the fabric of community life with innovative projects that protect their legacy while closing Lima’s green space deficit. It is not through walls and lawenforcing, but through community appropriation and a heightened sense of citizenship, that these ancient sacred sites will be protected for generations to enjoy. They will only be secured if a new social imaginary and a new urban meaning are given to these places. The studio proposes to do it through Lima’s most important intangible heritage, the binding power of food, and the most needed action in Peru, education.

In fact, gastronomy in Peru is directly linked with education, history, and culture. Soroush Parsa, a Lead Innovation Scientist at the International Potato Center, explains to us how food has been as sacred as gods in Lima, a 10-million-person city settled in one of the driest deserts in the world: “The most potent opportunity to transform Lima is latent in our culture. A 5,000-year agri-culture. We are the children of two of the world’s original homelands of food production, the Andes and the Amazon. Our knowledge of the land is indigenous and ancient. It lives displaced, not forgotten, latent within us in the city. And we are the stewards of a forgotten treasure—the lost foods of the Incas. At the time of Pizarro’s conquest, our people cultivated as many plant species as the farmers of all over Asia and Europe. More valuable than the gold that left our shores is this forgotten treasure still awaiting to transform our city and the world. Equipped with our millenary knowledge and heirloom seeds, all we’re missing is farmland.”

In times of confinement, individualism, and climate change, we should explore how to transform traditional public spaces into 21st Century commons through innovative, hybrid urban and architectural spaces, intensifying city life, and ensuring food and water security in our ever-growing megacities.

From a design point of view, the studio will investigate how to define the new spaces for this contemporary “new sacred” in the ancient heritage sites by combining innovative mixed housing, a food-hub system, education, and culture. The project will be located in an abandoned heritage site with residual areas, adjacent to two of the most important university campuses in Lima.


Housing typology
Student Housing
Mix-use buildings
Heritage site
Urban agriculture
Food to table

Specific Objectives

  1. We will design highly mixed programs complementing innovative housing, food hubs, new spaces for education and culture, and other city services with a high sense of community.
  2. We will pursue different and new relations with heritage, geography, and culture, pushing the limits—and perhaps blurring them—between architecture, urban design, and landscape design, re-defining relations between buildings, open-air spaces, and preexistences in a specific site.
  3. We will test architecture’s capacity to operate as a mediator between social and environmental conditions, especially those caught under rapidly changing urban conditions with high inequity and heavy real-estate speculation.
  4. We will engage architecture not only in its traditional disciplinary values, but we will also look for imaginative ways of dealing with a pressing reality and try to solve problems in specific communities and environments.

Pedagogical Method

The studio will foster design research by the doing, starting from the beginning with design-based exercises.

  • The first part will focus on coupling specific usages and spaces that are not usually connected. It will explore the dimensions of usage, space, light, matter, and time, using the section as a privileged tool. The exercises will be done in groups of two students
  • This design research will be combined by multi-disciplinary lectures about the topics that will be part of the architectural program and the usages to be developed (see “Interdisciplinary Talks”).
  • The second part will emphasize placemaking, carefully studying the topological and historical characteristics within the heritage site compatible with the usages studied in the first part, to detect the right places to intervene and not to intervene. The design research will concentrate on how to create meaningful spaces based on preexisting conditions and new usages. This part will be addressed individually by each student.
  • The third part will concentrate on overall and specific design, integrating urban design, landscape architecture, architecture, and detailing scales in a comprehensive intervention. The final project will be conducted individually.

Interdisciplinary Talks

Urban Food Hub Systems: Sabine O’Hara, Dean and Director of Landgrant Programs for the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC)

Food Systems vision for Lima: Soroush Parsa, Lead Innovation Scientist, CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research. International Potato Center

On housing: Josep Maria Montaner (professor of Theory at the Superior Technical School of Architecture of Barcelona, Spain)

From Mix-use to Diff-use: Marcelo Faiden (Adamo-Faiden Arquitectos, Argentina)

Kitchenless City: Anna Puigjaner (Professor GSAPP – Principal Architect MAIO, Spain)

Heritage and Society in Latin America: Ana María Durán (Ecuador, Architect and Researcher at YSoA)

All Semesters

Spring 2023
Advanced Design Studio: La ropa sucia se lava en casa
Tatiana Bilbao, Andrei Harwell, Iwan Baan
Spring 2022
Advanced Design Studio: VERI_PLEX Center for Alternative Cinema
Joe Day, Violette de la Selle
Spring 2020
Cultural Dreaming: Alternative Futures for Urban Renewal Memories
Walter Hood, Andrew Benner
Spring 2019
Advanced Design Studio
Thomas Phifer, Kyle Dugdale