ARCH 4101/4102/5101/5116/7113
Abundant Scarcities: Building Architecture within the Context of the Global South

A collage of varying buildings/structures on a white background.


Scarcity has always been a recurring theme in the daily life of countries of the global south and their different social, geographical, environmental, and political complexities. Both, in architecture and its interconnecting disciplines, scarcity has generated processes and forms as well as ways of thinking and perceiving spaces that are gradiently distinguishable from the more patterned, abundant, and organized world of the north. Rather than understanding it as a limitation, innovators have used scarcity as a source of inspiration, a creative tool, a basis for removing layers and stripping complexity. Scarcity opens up a world of possibilities and compels us to return to the essential, finding voluntary simplicities.

This studio proposes to research, experiment, and produce architectural spaces from the ABUNDANCE of SCARCITIES by focusing on two regions that represent a considerable part of the global south (the South American/the African), two geographical areas that are similar in their cultural complexities and architectural processes (Latin America/North Africa) with the perspective of two architects from these regions (one from Latin America/another from Northern Africa).

With the context of the global turning point, we find ourselves in today, this studio invites students to utilize critical thinking and innovate new methodologies for producing architecture centered on the question of how to use less to build more according to a matrix of: 6 different Scarcities in 6 contexts of the global south with 6 basic habits of the everyday life.


  1. THEORY: Students will become familiar with the contexts of the global south and will investigate the architecture, art, literature, music, and cinema of the regions that may inform ways of building with scarcities.
  2. EXCHANGES: Students will participate in a series of conversations with architects and artists that work closely with the theme as a means of generating a cross-disciplinary dialogue.
  3. PROJECT: Students will choose from a given matrix: a scarcity, a context, and a habit which they will use to develop their design project.


  1. As students will not be able to travel, we will bring diverse perspectives on the theme to the classroom through conversations with different architects and artists.
  2. Both the research and the design project will be done in teams of 2, projects will develop from the research conducted earlier in the semester and from different dialogues with people that commonly work with limited resources, budgets, time, and environmental issues.
  3. Rozana Montiel will be actively engaged with the studio at least once per week for the entirety of the allocated studio time. Sana Frini will be in Ithaca for the whole semester and will be present in the studio during all scheduled times.
  4. As this course encourages a theoretical and practical vision of SCARCITIES, students will be able to work with processes and different formats of understanding architecture.

**This studio can be taken as ARCH 5115 Expanded Practice

View a PDF of this class description.


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