BUILDING LOCAL will take place in Barichara, a colonial town located in the North Western region of Colombia. This design-build studio will explore the aesthetic, assembly andtectonic qualities of local materials: earth, stone, fique, bamboo and wood, engaging students in a series of workshops that will culminate in the design and construction of an efficient and innovative farmhouse.

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Barichara is a small town of 8000 people located on the Andean hills on the North Western region of Colombia, in the Department of Santander. With colonial architecture dating back to 1705, and traditions of earth and stone constructions, Barichara is one the historical landmark in the country. Currently, as the town transitions from an agricultural economy to a service based economy –relying  primarily on tourism- new residents are moving in and the town is experiencing various environmental and social transformations. On the one hand, these transformations offer new opportunities for innovation, further experimenting with local materials and the existing building typologies, yet, on the other, they reflect a troubling condition for local farmers, or campesinos, that are now searching for their own space among the incoming residents and within the new economy. Barichara is therefore a unique place to learn and explore local construction techniques, while requiring a multi-dimensional proposal that addresses and engages the socio-economical and environmental impacts of a transitional economy.


1) A wide variety of local expertise in earth/stone construction.

2) An array of artists, craftsmen and architects that have tremendous knowledge of materials and techniques, both regarding architecture and industrial design.

3) A challenging socio-economic conditions as the agricultural economy transitions into a service economy based on tourism. Acknowledging the impacts these transitions bring on the environment and on Barichara’s residents, there is a need to re-think the new needs of household or family, and re-configure the current design and notion of a dwelling.

4) Difficult environmental conditions, in particular in terms of water supply.

5) Finally, Barichara has the cultural, architectural, and landscape authenticity of a typical Andean Colombian town, while offering a diversity in population, art, culture, and culinary life.

Students will work with the family of Marta and Jorge. They are both local campesinos, that have recently acquired land and most of the materials needed  to build their house.


Barichara, Santander, Colombia

Latitud 6º 38′ 20″ N Longitud 73º 14′ 59” West Altitud: 1,450 mt


CLIMATE          Characterized by low levels of precipitation and temperatures between 19 Celsius and 28 Celsius (high temperature variation between day time and night time).

INFO                     Lonely Planet + Government Website


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