Two NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) faculty members oversaw a summer workshop at the Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM), Campus Querétaro, to help students explore how mobile or temporary structures can be used by global brands to demonstrate corporate social responsibility. Thirty-two UVM students participated in the program, which was taught by NSAD instructors Jorge Ozorno and Claudia Salazar.
"This third year of the intensive summer school with UVM further demonstrated the successful model of international cooperation and accelerated teaching that led to great student outcomes," said Steve Altman, president of NSAD. "This type of collaboration is important as we become a more global society, and we appreciate the partnership with UVM to realize the value in such programs."
For the August 2011 program UVM students were divided into five interdisciplinary teams of architects, graphic designers and industrial designers. The combination was an important part of the learning experience since the instructors wanted students to better understand the connections between their specialties as well as the impact each design discipline can have over the entire project in an experiential branded environment.
"The class started with students being put through a series of philosophical exercises to consider the dynamics and frame of reference of how corporations can contribute to urban spaces," said lead instructor Ozorno, who has taught in the program since its inception. The teams then created prototypes of mobile or temporary structures that the corporations could use to bring these concepts to urban spaces. Finally, the students developed a branded environment through the design of the interiors, furniture, displays and brand campaigns.
The students developed structure prototypes and environments inspired by the following brands:
Apple: A pavilion made of inflatable structures with a media "teach" zone aimed at promoting the arts through the use of the iPad and other new technology tools, including a space where visitors could mix their own music or play piano.
Bayer: A mobile structure that provided a space for remote patient diagnosis, as well as tools that allowed visitors to check their blood pressure and sugar levels.
Jumex: A collapsible module that can be taken to neighborhoods to show people how to start their own micro vegetable gardens. As part of the educational component, children would be given seeds to plant at home.
Gerber: A module to help parents learn about the first five years of early childhood development. It included an interactive kitchen for parents to learn how to create healthy foods for their children, and interactive play environments.
Microsoft Xbox Kinect: A module focused on promoting health and well-being in communities through the gaming technology of Xbox Kinect and virtual sports. The module also included a café and technology displays.
"The big 'aha moment' that came out of this exercise is when the students realize how much architecture, graphic design and industrial design have in common," said Salazar, who works as an associate at Gensler in San Diego, a global design and architecture firm. "At the start of the class, they are thinking in their silos, and by the end, they are seeing the connections."
Students were also required to utilize contemporary mediums to communicate their ideas. By the end of the first week, Ozorno requested the students produce a four-minute, "micro TED"-style video. The videos served as a way to communicate their ideas to an outside audience and were complemented by drawings, models and essays.
At UVM, Academic Vice Rector Carlos Enrique González Negrete said that more than 100 undergraduate students pursuing graphic design, industrial design and architecture degrees have participated in the intensive summer sessions in Querétaro, Mexico.
"The guest faculty members from NSAD have enriched our curriculum and global perspective," he said. "This unique collaborative experience fosters the possibilities of internationalization across the Laureate university network as students from different regions of Mexico build a multicultural learning atmosphere guided by leading faculty from San Diego."
Both Salazar and Ozorno have extensive cross-border experience and speak both English and Spanish. They taught the summer program at UVM in Spanish. Salazar earned her Master of Architecture at NSAD and also has an interior design degree from San Diego State University. Ozorno has a master's degree in architecture and is the former dean of the School of Architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Baja California, Mexico.