Let’s Build a Beautiful City: Student Feedback

Wonderful Summer School in Beautiful Utrecht

By Arla Memushi, published the 2nd of August 2022.

It all started partly because of a recommendation, and among thousands of schools, it seemed to be the most interesting, prompting me to apply and after some time I got accepted.

Utrecht is a wonderful city from which you have a lot to learn from. At the moment of arrival, I understood that this journey was not so much called an expense, but rather, a worthwhile investment in itself.

The accommodation was pleasant and comfortable, and the environment where the Summer School took place, Utrecht University’s old city centre building, was quite pleasant. My classmates created a warm atmosphere during the cloudy days in Holland.

During this period, I learned a lot about architecture and urbanism, not only about the lectures that were held, but I learned more about the place where I was staying, and I learned more about myself, about the career I will choose; how to think and how to ‘speak through the pencil’. At the first day, when I introduced myself, I said that the reason I was there was to think about a choice of career, since I had doubts about architecture. Today, I applied to the university to study architecture after having spent a few weeks in such a wonderful and inspiring environment.

A note about the lectures, they were very interesting, and every word was relevant, I could sense it whenever I went outside the school premises for excursions, outside lectures or free time in the city of Utrecht. Each lecture was very valuable and instructional. The school programme included interesting places to visit and see, most of it was always getting by bicycle. Meeting new people was amazing and, of course, I recommend to everyone who wants to invest a lot in themselves to join this Summer School.

To close, I would like to say: be part of this, it’s a key that unlocks lots of doors!

Experiencing traditional urbanism in Utrecht

By Brandon Bosaz, published the iith August 2022

Being sixteen years old and incredibly interested in urbanism and architecture, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend quite a bit of time thinking of how I should pursue these fields in the future. As such, having the privilege to attend the 2022 INTBAU Summer School in Utrecht was an incredible opportunity.

Excursion in the city centre of Utrecht

My experience during this program is best exemplified by two themes, variety and exposure. Despite the school only lasting a bit less than three weeks, our days were packed to the gills with lectures from accomplished professionals on everything from architectural history and design techniques to theories on urbanism, as well as lessons on sketching and rendering, group and individual projects, and even excursions to examples of traditional architecture and urbanism both old and new.

Morning lecture at Drift 25, city of Utrecht

No two days were the same, and while at times exhausting, the wide variety of these experiences allowed me to form my own ideas on the designs that work already well and in contrast the designs that do not, it even helped me figure out what kind of work I most enjoy doing.

Excursion doing watercolouring and perspective drawing

However, just as integral to my experience at this school were the people and places I interacted with. While I was certainly the youngest attending the program, I was hardly atypical. Of the twenty or so students attending, we ranged from being in our teens to our fifties, from high school students to professionals, and came from countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Walking to the studio at Drift 25, Utrecht

Learning about my classmates’ backgrounds and what their lives were like in their home countries was quite interesting and gave me a different perspective on both their countries and my own.

Measured drawing lecture outside the Pandhof Cloister, Utrecht

Additionally, Utrecht is an incredibly livable city and made my first experience living on my own a delight. Just having the freedom to navigate my way from Schiphol Airport to Utrecht on my own by train, bike to and from class while chatting with a classmate and stopping for groceries along the way, or go out with everyone after class for a bite to eat by foot or by bike is quite empowering to an American teenager like me who usually has to be chauffeured by a parent to get anywhere outside the suburb in which I live.

Proportion drawing at the Domkerk, Utrecht

While not perfect, experiencing Utrecht and other Dutch cities firsthand showed me that beautiful, livable cities where one can live their life to its fullest extent without the burden of car dependence are not only possible but desirable even now.

This program allowed me to experience so many things, many of which added impetus to my desire to pursue urbanism in the future, and I am truly grateful to everyone who helped make this program a reality.

My Time with Traditional Dutch Architecture in The Netherlands

By Sharon Vidale, published the 2nd August 2022

I was fortunate to be selected to be a part of an incredible project that was designed to revive the creation of traditional Dutch architecture in the midst of a sea of modernist ‘ego-structures’ of contemporary architecture.

Proportional drawing exercise at excursion in Utrecht

I was lead to this project by ‘The Podcast of Lotus Eaters’ where they asked “ What Happened to Beautiful Architecture?”. And while I have a great love for classical architecture I also do have a much appreciation for modern architecture. Having said that, this has been my experience over the past 2 weeks:

Pandhof or cloister of the Dom Church, Utrecht

Before coming to the Netherlands I was asked whether or not I could ride a bike, little did I realize that the Netherlands is the Biking capital of the world – Eeek… I have not ridden a bike in over 5o years, what was I to do – everybody will be biking except me. Well, it turned out that the facilitators were very accommodating and very kind, so I have been using the most amazing bus service while I am learning to ride a bike.

Outdoor measured drawing lecture in Utrecht

In this intense activity packed course we started off with a ‘Bang!’; on the first day of class and we were introduced to Utrecht via a walking tour where we were treated to the rich classical architecture that anchors the city to its history and establishes the spirit of the space.

Hand-drawn perspective and plans in sketchbooks

The program is packed with a range of lectures by practicing professionals in their respective fields, and spanned from Dutch Architecture to the principles of classical architecture to traditional building materials. Sprinkled with classes in water colour painting, plein air drawing of the architecture of Utrecht and Buren among others; measured drawing exercises, a tour of the royal palace in Amsterdam.

Excursion to new traditional development in Op Buuren, The Netherlands

Our visit to Amsterdam – arriving at Amsterdam immediately impresses on you the majestic impact of its days of glory and one can imagine the inevitable awe that would have been a daily experience of the residents and visitors to Amsterdam. The architecture is spectacular and is a testament to the superior skill of the craftsmen of the time, with impeccable attention to detail and the timeless beauty and stability of classical architecture.

I was however severely disappointed upon reaching the royal palace, as it saddened me to see the façade of this majestic building sullied with dirt and grime; for me it diminishes the value and majesty of this most important building as I firmly believe that the built environment impacts behaviours of the people who occupy it. My heart is a little bit broken.

Measured drawing at the open galleries of the Dom Church, Utrecht

The past two weeks have reinforced in me the sociological impact that architecture has on us as humans, its connection to our humanity and how it influences our behaviours. On our tours I have noticed that classical architecture prompts us to touch, as if to metaphorically make a connection with the creators of the structures.

After just a couple of weeks, I feel like I live here and am not just visiting – another testament to the effect that architecture has on us; how it welcomes us into a space. I believe that the connection that classical architecture has to nature has everything to do with being human, and this is why natural beauty trumps everything else.

This has been an experience that every architect and budding architect should definitely be a part of, as we create our cities of the future.

Lucas Martín Guitera Reflects on the Summer School in Utrecht

The summer school “Let’s Build A Beautiful City”, organized in Utrecht by INTBAU Netherlands from July 18 to August 4, was a magnificent experience from start to finish. Focused mainly on issues of New Urbanism and the design of new neighborhoods with human and traditional qualities, it was a very complete and enriching summer school.

Thanks to the fact that the participants had very different profiles -from high school students to engineers and architects- it was possible to create a heterogeneous group, with very diverse nationalities and backgrounds, which greatly enriched the experience. Equally noteworthy was the wide variety of guest speakers, all of them professionals with extensive experience in their fields of expertise, who gave lectures on topics as diverse as Dutch Classicism or the way in which data analysis tools and surveys can have an impact on urban planning policies. Having the support and guidance of architects such as Robert Adam and Michael Lykoudis was also an invaluable opportunity.

Field visits were a good counterpoint to the lectures, and we were fortunate to visit important monuments such as the Palace of Amsterdam, buildings under restoration and the new Brandevoort and Op Buuren developments, among others. The city of Utrecht, where we stayed, was the perfect setting as it is a great example of traditional urban planning and architecture.

Finally, I must also mention the constant support of the members of INTBAU Netherlands and the various traditional architecture firms from the Netherlands who participated and who allowed us to develop, in just over a week, a master plan for a new development in the southwest of Utrecht.

The experience was, without a doubt, unique and difficult to forget. I have learned a lot and met people who will be an invaluable help throughout my career.