Mary Ann Steane

Mary Ann Steane is an architect and senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge. Her research on natural light marries technical analysis with a broader cultural perspective, looking closely at the range of factors which affect visual perception. This concern is allied to an interest in how architects learn to interpret their surroundings, how they acquire understanding of the city and its buildings through embodied as well as abstract knowledge. University of Cambridge Department of Architecture 1/2 Scroope Terrace Cambridge CB2 1PX Tel: 01223 332965 Email:

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Found in translation? Reconfiguring the river edge of Cochrane, Patagonia, a travesía project of the Valparaíso School led by David Jolly and David Luza, November 2013

A live project in Cochrane, Patagonia, termed a journey or travesía, whose aim was to reshape an important threshold between the town and its wilderness setting involved a group of staff and students from PUCV (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso) sharing a life in common for a fortnight in November 2013. Taking errantry in post-colonial discourse on identity as its theoretical point of departure, and using the Cochrane project as a case-study, this paper examines an apparent paradox: that in a travesía the creativity of wandering must be allied to a strictly organised plan of campaign. Exploring how and why such a shared journey stimulates not only the acquisition of metis (practical wisdom or artful cunning), but a new capacity to ‘make the land speak’, it draws attention to the risk-taking negotiation skills on which wayfarers depend. Importantly the travesía is shown to be a form of learning-to-build whose arena for insightful play transforms design into an essentially collaborative transaction. Finally, the paper discusses why, as a kind of time-limited ‘trial’ away from Valparaíso to prepare students for the battle of practice, the travesía chooses some but not all the limits and opportunities of ‘liveness’.

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