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  • Locations: Barcelona, Spain; Bucharest, Romania; Lyon, France; Paris, France; Prague, Czech Republic
  • Program Terms: Fall
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2019 03/15/2019
Rolling Admission 08/31/2019 10/09/2019

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type Detailed: UC Faculty-Led Program Program Type General: Faculty-Led
Credit Offered: UC Credit Click here for a definition of this term Registration Term: Fall
Language Courses Offered: No Click here for a definition of this term Language Prerequisite: No
Housing Options: Hotel Program Advisor: Thomas Shannon
Program Description:
This trip examines the architecture of the former Eastern European Communist Block, in Prague, the former Yugoslavia, and Romania with a primary focus on Bucharest. In light of the recent 2018 Venice Biennale, the studio uses representation to dissect what constitutes “freespace.”
The trip begins in Paris whose inventive architecture had a large influence in the East. Bucharest, called “Little Paris,” later became the epicenter of the Communist Architectural Regime. In Romania these conflicting stylistic influences are further complicated by the ongoing encounters between high architecture and everyday use, between ongoing global, economic development and local spatial practices. The architecture of the East is characterized by these complex influences. The proliferation and translation of styles, the restrictions of government regulated urbanism, and the current ubiquity of capital are the framework for the play of an urban life of improvisation and invention.

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Paris and Lyon, France; Prague, Czech Republic; Bucharest + Brasov + Sighisoara + Sinaia, Romania; Barcelona, Spain
We will visit different schools like the Ion Mincu University in Bucharest but all courses are taught by UC faculty. Some of the main sites studied in Paris include: Atelier Brancusi (situated on the former studio site owned by the Romanian sculptor), Center Pompidou (also designed by Renzo Piano Architects) , Place des Vosges, the Louvre (although even after living in Paris for over a decade some say they have not entirely visited the museum), Jean Nouvel's Institute du Monde Arabe, Notre Dame, Nouvel's Musée du quai Branly, Musee d'Órsay, Père Lachaise Cemetery (e. 1804), Parc de la Villette (b.1984-87, Bernard Tschumi), The Cargo Incubator Building ( b. 2016, Studio Odile Decq), French Communist Party Headquarters (b. 1980, Oscar Niemeyer), Versailles (b. 1631, Louis Le Vau + Jules Hardouin-Mansart, French Baroque), Maison de Verre, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Notre Dame du Haut (Ronchamp, 1953-55, Le Corbusier), as well as Villa Savoye, La Tourette along with a thorough Le Corbusier tour in Paris and the surroundings. This will prepare us to understand many of the principles reiterated in the architecture of the Eastern Communist block after the Second World War. 

In Prague, our highlights include: Museum of Communism, the Old Town Center, Villa Tugendhat (Mies van der Rohe), Muller Villa (Adolf Loos, Raumplan), Czech Museum of Cubism (House of the Black Madonna), St. Vitus Cathedral, Franz Kafka Museum, Church of the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord (Joze Plecnik).

In former Yugoslavia we will expand on examples of building in concrete (see the recent MOMA exhibition entitled "Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980" and widen our understanding of Joze Plecnik's architecture.

We will spend the most of our time in Romania. We will live and work in the center of Bucharest for about three to four weeks. From Bucharest we will take several short trips to visit the Brancusi Ensemble in Targu Jiu, various castles along the Prahova Valley into the Carpathian Mountains (Dracula's Castle included), one of the most well preserved 12th c. fort towns in Europe--Sighisoara, and potentially other cities such as Cluj and Sibiu (2007 European Cultural Capital). In Bucharest we will visit a variety of projects including: the Village Muesum, the People's Palace (the second largest building in area in the world, built during Communism), The Atheneum (b.1888, after a design by the French architect Albert Galleron, Neo-Classical ), Stavropoleos Monastery (b. 1724, Brancovenesc Style), the Lipscani neighborhood with many Unesco protected sites (such as Hanu lu' Manuc, b. 1808), as well as a variety of mass housing projects built during Communism. We will meet and work with local architects and academics from the Ion Mincu University, School of Architecture in the capital. Students will be given the option to visit the Black Sea Coast.

Ending in Barcelona will expand on design freedom, through examples such as: Palau Guell (1886-88, Gaudi), Casa Batlló (b. 1905-1907, Gaudí), Casa Milà (La Pedrera, b. 1905-1911, Gaudí), Temple de la Sagrada Familia (b. 1884-present, Gaudí), Parc del Diagonal Mar (1997 – 2001, Enric Miralles & Benedetta Tagliabue), Fundación Miró (b. 1972-1974, Jose Lluis Sert). The understanding of these examples will inform our design methodology.

Students will have a small break to visit sites in Europe not covered by the course itinerary.

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Who Can Participate?

DAAP SAID students only.
Undergraduate Students are welcomed to apply. Graduate students in SAID can contact the program leader directly to discuss acceptance in the program on a case by case basis.

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Academic Program and Course Information


In Romania, unexpected associations are ubiquitous. Remnants of the country's once rural society are not fully urbanized; the vegetable garden and the personal pig farm find themselves in industrialized mass housing projects. This programmatic anomaly was made possible a new typology–the block of flats with a semi-shared vegetable garden. Likewise, the parking lots of courtyard apartment complexes, given the scarcity of the automobile, are turned to new uses as arenas for soccer, handball, and ice hockey. The courtyard might be flooded in winter or the snow harvested to turn it into ice. A rope might be strung across to make a tennis court. Through human resourcefulness, the former concrete parking lot turned playground has put any more official green spaces to shame. This level of invention was a feature of the Romanian Pavillion at the Venice Biennale 2018. Similarly, secular and religious remnants of the former village are still present in the current urban fabric. In the spirit of bricolage, projects like the Village Museum are carefully woven in the city's fabric (see "Everyday Urbanism" by Margaret Crawford).

Through misuse and appropriation, the city has its own unruly, surreptitious, and unyielding urbanity. Its sudden beauty takes you by surprise. Highly imperfect, far from ideal, not idyllic, never particularly romantic, yet completely bewildering, the architecture of Romania is perpetually in search for something else. It may very well unknowingly found it. But most likely it always misses it. This land constitutes the ideal playground for the work of the architect.


Photography: "Bucharest", by Gabriel George Alexe

Architecture is a product of freedom and constraint. The trip will examine what constitutes design freedom. Students are asked to speculate on what causes the productive ambivalence between self-governed, autonomous development and the local improvisations in the occupation of obstructed and constrained spaces. The intersection of these extremes finds a specificity that is developing in an increasing globalized, self-regulating market.

Situated at these design oppositions, the cities we will visit are case studies in freedom and constraint: Paris, the bourgeois capital of the nineteenth century, served as the model for Bucharest; Barcelona, though examples such as Antonio Gaudi, epitomized the very definition of design freedom; urban and rural sites in former Yugoslavia embody the ongoing dialogue between periphery and center; and Prague the capital that embraces all its disparate identities.

Design exercises will be structured between "constrained" and "free" in plan, section, axon, and 4D projection. The methodology oscillates between the ludic, the factual, and the speculative (see "Stairwells", by Livio Dimitriu, 1976-78).

While considesee "Evasions l'Art sans Liberté" expositions-et-evenements/actualite/article/evasions-l-art-sans-liberte). Most importantly, this is not a studio focused on documentation alone, but on speculating on lessons learned in Eastern-European architecture for a carefully considered contemporary architecture of dimensions, strategies, and tactics.

All students in this program are required to enroll in the following classes for Fall 2019:

ARCH4001 Studio IV 6 credits
SAID4094 Int. Study Seminar (Themed to the Trip) 3 credits
SAID4097 Int. Study Lecture (Drawing Course) 3 credits
ARCH5051 Arch Elective (Travel or Urban Study) 3 credits
ARCH 4090 3 credits

INTD4001 Studio IV 6 credits
SAID4094 Int. Study Seminar (Themed to the Trip) 3 credits
SAID4097 Int. Study Lecture (Drawing Course) 3 credits
ARCH5051 Arch Elective (Travel or Urban Study) 3 credits
BSINTD4022 Interior Design Theory (Taught by Joori Suh) 3 credits

In additon to the application, an in person interview should be scheduled by each student before 3/15 with the faculty leader by emailing Prof. Marcu at Students should submit an online portfolio link to along with a 1-2 paragraph description outlining the interest in this program.

 Tuition and fees are assessed based on total enrolled hours for a term. This includes the hours associated with the study abroad class. Students who enroll for more than 18 hours for the term will be assessed additional per credit hour fees over and above the flat fees associated with being enrolled full-time (for most students full-time is 12-18 hours).
Co-op students selected to participate in this program are required to enroll in the course during the designated term, regardless of when the student may be on co-op.  If the course is during a term when the student is on co-op, tuition and fees will be charged per a student’s residency status and college, based on the part-time per credit hour rate.
A student can see his/her full and part time tuition rates and college fees here (use left-side navigation menu to click into the relevant academic year):

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Currently Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, where she co-established the Architectural Robotics Lab and received the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, Mara Marcu is founder of MMXIII. Her education includes a Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. A recipient of the 2011 University of Virginia Fellowship, Mara also taught at the American University of Sharjah and University of Houston. Her work has been published and exhibited widely. Most recently, a project expanding on augmented reality is displayed at the "Time Space Existence" show at Palazzo Bembo, organized with the occasion of the 2018 Venice Biennale. Similarly, she is the author of ECHOS published with Actar in July 2018.

In 2015, Mara co-chaired the Annual ACADIA Conference in Cincinnati. She joined the ACADIA Board of Directors and IJAC Editorial Board in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The technological component of her work favors the peculiar and the absurd over the ever changing architectural style. Central to her interests are questions of representation, processes of making and thinking, emergent taxonomies, urbanism, and pedagogy with a penchant for the flawed, the outcast, the oddly gendered, the ludic and the nostalgic.

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Living Arrangements

Students and faculty will stay in 4 start hotels. When a 4 star hotel is not available a 3 star hotel will be booked instead. Two students will share one room with a private bathroom. Most hotels will have breakfast included.

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Getting There

 Students book their own flights and airfare is not included in below program costs. Please confirm with faculty leader before purchasing airfare.

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Program Costs


2019 Program Cost: $7000
Included in Program Cost:
  • Housing / accommodations
  • Some meals 
  • In-country transportation for program-planned activities
  • Cultural excursions/entrance fees
  • International emergency and evacuation insurance
Not Included in Program Cost:
  • Tuition – (at your standard tuition rate)
  • International airfare
  • Passport application/renewal fees (~$165)
  • Recommended/required immunization/vaccination fees (~$)
  • Some meals (~$)
  • Personal spending/souvenirs (~$)
This program has been awarded a $1000 International Scholarship (matriculated, UC degree-seeking students only).  UC International scholarship requires a minimum 2.0 GPA. This brings the total financial liability of program cost down to $6000.

Note that both program charges and UC International scholarship will be posted separately on a student’s OneStop bill on the semester in which the course for the study abroad experience is given.  Program charges are posted shortly after students commit to the program through the online application process.  Scholarships are posted after all students 1) register for the course connected to the study abroad experience, and 2) complete all study abroad online paperwork.

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UC Financial Aid and Scholarships


For full details on using your financial aid to help pay for your study abroad experience, you should contact UC Financial Aid.

UC International awarded over $800,000 in student scholarships last year. Please refer to the UC International webpage for more information.

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Passports and Visas

A valid passport is essential to your international travel and study abroad. If you are planning to travel abroad, it's best to apply for a passport now as processing times may vary. Please see for more information.

In order to obtain country-specific visa instructions and resources, refer to your host country’s embassy web page. One way to access this information is via the US Department of State’s webpage at:

UC International is happy to guide UC faculty, staff and students to possible resources about visas for study abroad. Although, applying for the necessary visa for travel is the responsibility of the individual UC traveler. Entry requirements change frequently, and we advise you to pay close attention to consular updates. It is your responsibility to know and address the requirements for your host study abroad destination.

Applying for a visa can be a complicated process. Some UC travelers choose a third party to assist with this process, for example Travisa or A Briggs (mention UC for a possible discount).

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Health and Safety Abroad

While UC International is committed to student and faculty safety while abroad, traveling UC faculty, students and staff are the individuals making decisions overseas and therefore play a key role in their own health and safety abroad. The US Department of State, Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and International SOS are excellent resources for country specific information.

UC partners with International SOS, a company that provides medical and security advice. UC's member ID is 11BCAS000010.

UC students, faculty and staff can utilize International SOS in the following ways:
  • Sign up to receive email alerts for medical and security information, customizable to various locations abroad.
  • Read about travel health information with medical advice, food and water safety and cultural tips.
  • Explore travel security with personal safety tips and travel risk ratings for locations abroad.

UC faculty, students and staff traveling abroad should register their travel through the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency.

All UC students participating in a University of Cincinnati sanctioned or funded international travel program are required to purchase and maintain insurance while abroad. UC International partners with CISI to provide insurance for UC students.

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Contacts for More Information

Mara Marcu
SAID 8280D

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This program is currently not accepting applications.