4.170 | Fall 2006 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Ecuador Workshop

Past Workshops

Jan Wampler has been conducting international workshops for the last ten years in every continent: he has visited countries including Zambia, China, Ecuador, India, Pakistan, Honduras, Cuba, Turkey and the United States.  He believes that it is vital that the next generation of architects is exposed to other cultures and countries so that when they design, they will not bring to these cultures their preconceived ideas of design. Instead, and more importantly, design should come from an understanding of the conditions, the land, and most of all, the people.

“Through his teaching, research, and practice, Jan Wampler is one of the few rare architects and urban designers who have dedicated their professional life to achieving this goal: how to make the city a good place for those without advantages. Wampler has recognized that the public and private realms within communities are much more complex, ambivalent, and subtle than we usually consider; and further, that the definition of these realms is deeply rooted within their given cultures.” – Fumihiko Maki, architect, fall 2001

If there are projects that you know of that are similar to the ones described below, or if you can donate your time, expertise or funds to further this work, please contact Jan by emailing international-workshops@mit.edu.

Personal Statements

Some of the most telling testaments to the power of these workshops are the reflections and personal statements of the students involved. Below are statements from the students in the Ecuador workshop, and then in the table from many of the past international workshops.

“It was extremely gratifying to know that we were leaving the Pascualeños with a seed that they could water forever, because by helping the children, we were planting the strongest roots to help the town progress. Although I may live the life of an MIT graduate with all of its rewards and prestige, with education, the children of Pascuales will bring to this world much more change than I ever can. Their bright eyes and innocent smiles brought me warmth and comfort in a town so new and so remote, but also made me confident that what we were doing will change the lives of these children forever.” - Harini Rajaraman (PDF)

“The moment we arrived in the village, the clients ceased to be clients, an ever abstract term that I still find out of place and uncomfortable in the context of architecture. To be in their village with them, I feel something that transcended architecture and the client-architect relationship; it was the human spirit. In all my experience in architecture so far, I have often been excited, but never been moved. Our meeting with the people was a moving experience. Architecture, after all, is more than just space, building, style, or even beauty. It is one human being giving the gift of friendship, understanding, and kindness to another human being.” - W. Victoria Lee (PDF)

Past Workshops


Gujerat, India, 1996-1997

The design of housing, a community center prototype, and public spaces in Gujerat, India.

“Working with MIT and the Aga Khan Housing Board of India taught us an invaluable lesson of how to work with and for people of other cultures… Every phase of this workshop was vital to its success and each taught us a valuable lesson of exchange and cooperation that we carried with us into our professional careers.”

-Rodney Zeismann and Sandra Ventura (PDF)

At left, children in Gujerat.

Haiderabad, Pakistan, 1995

Design of an educational and community center incorporated into a south-facing slope.

“As I think back on the Haiderabad workshop, it is difficult to focus on just that experience, as the effects of it continue to sprout and grow in me even today. The experience of the workshop was so incredible that it also represents for me one of those treasured points of clarity that so affect the paths we take in life. In fact, I can say without hesitation that, six years later, the seeds that this workshop sowed in me have grown to be more and more a part of my life and work with every passing year.”

- Barbara Brady (PDF)

At left, a plan view of the model.

Beijing, China, 2001

House and home prototypes in the hutong district of Beijing.

“Overall, the China Workshop was one of the greatest educational experiences of my life… Perhaps the greatest lesson that I learned was that while our cultures and contexts are very different, people living in Beijing are basically the same as people living in Boston.”

- Steven Jackson (PDF)

At left, models of a three-person housing unit.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 1999

A new housing prototype in Honduras to provide hurricane relief and crowding solutions.

“I experienced a country devastated in terms I can not describe, something I will take with me always. I saw how a project is approached through an architect and planner’s eyes – something some civil engineers never experience! Most importantly, I left the workshop with wonderful friends, both at MIT and in Honduras, that I never would have met in my life otherwise.”

- Kathryn J. MacLaughlin (PDF)

At left, a site plan for a housing community.

Adapazari, Turkey, 1999

Permanent housing and community for families who lost homes to an earthquake.

“At least for myself, being part of this workshop meant that there are no limits to what we can do for other people if our desire and our willingness to help is strong enough… My fundamental message is that no matter what we know, no matter who we are, we can always lend a hand to those in need if we follow our hearts.”

- Bruno Miller (PDF)

At left, a model showing electrical, water, and sewage lines.

Cay, Turkey, 2000-2001

Rebuilding the center and psyche of a community after two earthquakes.

“I have no doubt that when the community center is completed, the classes teaching computers and those teaching folk dancing will be equally welcome. For these people, innovation does not threaten their identity, but provides a means to preserve it. And we, who bring them our technology and expertise, must remember not only to teach, but to learn.”

- Molly Forr (PDF)

At left, children work with the members of the workshop.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2006
Learning Resource Types
Image Gallery
Design Assignments with Examples