Connecting Students with Nature

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Buildings for Real Places

If you head southwest from Denver on Highway 9, you’ll eventually nd yourself in Garo, Colorado. It’s where the road and sky meet, with mountains o in the distance. Bu alo Peaks Ranch is nearby. Estab- lished in 1863, it’s one of the oldest ranches in the state.

This is one of the places Ekaterini “Kat” Vlahos takes her students. She teaches architecture at the University of Colorado in Denver, and she believes that instilling in her students a sense of the land, as well as the traditions of the people who settled there, makes for better, more conscious design.

First, she asks her students to choose a spot. They sit and sketch for ve minutes. Then they walk the site. They’re o by themselves, not talking to each other.

“They’re doing a kind of walking meditation; they’re engrossed in the place,” says Vlahos. “Then I have them come back to the same site an hour later, and I say, ‘I want you to sit and sketch and observe what’s changed.’”

Vlahos has her students do this several times during their site visits because even if all they’ve noticed is a change in the light, it’s…

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