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60 533 International Studio: A botanical garden in the tropics

Full course name in English: 
International Studio: A botanical garden in the tropics
60 533
Syklus 2
2022 Høst
2022 Høst
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Luis Callejas
Gro Bonesmo

Autocad. Adobe suite. 3d software and advanced model making skills

Om emnet

The first studio in the new international series focuses on the implementation of the techniques and approaches to design developed in the past six years, which allow students to address the design of remote locations by creatively working with constructed site surveys.

The techniques developed in the series “Island, Ocean, Mountain, Forest and Desert” are mature enough to confront site specific exercises in contexts and geographies far away from Norway.

As in the past, architecture and landscape architecture students are welcomed and encouraged to work together.

Tropical botanical garden

Botanical gardens have been spaces for advancement of science and education since the earliest examples were built in Europe around the 1500’s, paradigmatic examples such as the botanical garden at the university of Pisa, founded in 1544, or the botanical garden of Padova founded in 1545, were spaces that linked science with contemplation. These early botanical gardens differentiated themselves from old monastic gardens by been mainly focused on the production of new knowledge, not just cultivation and the curated display of plants, they served as the first open air classrooms for the nascent academic field of botany, where some of the earliest professors with full time dedication to botanical sciences required outdoor spaces for research.

Coinciding with the invention of the botanical garden as institution, European nations with colonies used the botanical gardens as spaces to display, collect and test species brought from the new world.

As much as the origins of the typology is rooted in scientific discovery, and is linked to some of the earliest academic disciplines focused on botanic studies, it is undeniable that some of the most iconographic aspects of the design of botanical gardens are rooted in the need to exhibit botanical material from locations far away, from completely different climates and cultures, and as such, the evolution of its architecture and garden design has responded to need to display and intensify the perception of what is exotic.

Not much later important botanical gardens in Europe took a turn from science to become depositories for the botanic treasures brought from the colonies.

In Latin America many botanical gardens adopted architectural codes base on their European counterparts, particularly questions of ornamentation, style, layout and museographic identity.

Located at 2100 meters above the sea, at 6 degrees of latitude and in the middle of the Andean mountains, the Jardin Botanico of Rionegro will be rather special. First, it will be one of the highest altitude botanical gardens in the world, which together with a stable all year around tropical climate will make it ideal for locating collections outdoors that would normally require interior spaces. The botanical garden will also host the high altitude Andean seed bank, which is the current non public use of the plot occupied by the research branch of the ministry of agriculture. The transformation of this currently closed program into a public space and botanical garden will serve as departure point to a botanical garden close to the original renaissance gardens belonging to universities and the production and safeguarding of botanical knowledge.

Architecture and landscape architecture.

The botanical garden will contain multiple buildings of different scale and use, among them, the most interesting design tasks will be the partially open refrigerated seed banks, a scientific building with an educational program, small greenhouses for tropical plants that require higher temperatures, and other small support structures that will be determined over the development of the course. Architecture students will have the opportunity to focus on individual buildings and reach a sophisticated level of details in their development, while landscape architecture students will be expected to focus more attention on outdoor areas and the open air collections, equally reaching high levels of design details in their proposals.

Ultimately, it is expected that an environment of collaborations between landscape architects and architects will dilute the apparent boundaries between both fields of expertise, something that is particularly possible to aspire in a climate where hard thermal barriers between interiors and exterior areas are not expected nor really needed.

Field trip

There will be a trip to Colombia in October during the excursion week. The trip is not mandatory but it is highly recommended. In the trip the students will visit the site, get to know the scientist working on site, and the university and public entities sponsoring the project. We will also visit and stay in the area of El Retiro, twenty minutes from Medellin and close to the botanical garden site. In this area Luis Callejas is developing a small residential masterplan with small houses in the forest. The gardens and architecture will serve as models for the climatic logics of the project to develop in the botanical garden. The cross section of the large 80 hectare plot, ranging from 2100 m to 2500m above the sea will expose students to the species that we will be able to use in the design of the garden. Daily excursions to the mountain will expose students to the full range of plants that belongs to that specific elevation.


Capacity to address different and simultaneous design scales (In architecture and landscape architecture) through the manipulation of the landscape. Capacity to design gardens, outdoor structures and building with shared approaches to geometry and structure Implementation and formal translation of geographic and cartographic material into concrete design workflows. Effective translation of botanical and ecological tropes and surveys into geometric principles useful for landscape architecture and architecture

Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

Model making at diffent scales

Advanced drawing and digital representation

Design discussions and desk critiques in studio