A Year in Chile

A few weeks ago, at UWA, I presented my experiences of living in Santiago, Chile.

I lived in Chile for nearly a year in 2011/2012 after graduating from my Masters of Architecture at UWA and receiving the Gus Ferguson Travel Scholarship. I had developed a strange fascination with Chile and its architecture over my final years of study and this scholarship was my chance at finding out more. I was also determined to get an internship at Elemental, esteemed social housing architects whose work had inspired me through my own studies at university.

I presented the relationship between my expectations of living in Chile, and the reality I was faced with. How learning a new language is not that easy, being tear gassed in the streets during protests is not that fun, and how moving to a new country by yourself turns out to be very isolating… but in the end, amazing. I also shared my experiences interning in the office of Elemental and the incredibly smart and inspiring people I met through that work. This ‘do-tank’ is changing the poor state of social housing in Chile (and beyond) with their famous “half-a-house” typologies whereby people with lesser means are built a basic structure that they can add to and personalise over time.

This was all followed by my obsession with the extremes of Chilean landscapes, in particular Patagonia and the strange and beautiful architecture that exists there at the end of the world.

It was a great night that ended with the Chilean favourites of wine and empanadas. It was a nice opportunity to share my experiences and show my gratitude to Gus Ferguson, who kindly provides such experiences for a lucky graduate every year.