El Alto The Gran Poder

El Alto

La Paz

Monday 22 January – Sunday 11 February 2018

La Paz, with its extravagant, bustling and chaotic life, creates a fertile ground for cultural assembling.

The visiting school questions the idea of identity, folklore and rituals translated into architecture - that becomes thus a collision among a multitude of fragments, far beyond its disciplinary boundaries.

The project starts with the Alasitas Festival in order to gather as many ready-made fragments, which will be then, de-contextualized in terms of meaning, proportions and materiality to create a radically new artifact.

 Through the study of Andean architecture examples in El Alto, students will have the opportunity to assemble their elements through an architectural hierarchy. From Freddy Mamani Silvestre, to the study of textiles, to the creation of mesa de la challa, all these references will help to build a new identitarian piece of architecture.

Ending with the Carnaval of Oruro, each individual piece will be assembled and choreographed as parts of a collective folkloristic dance.

Prominent Features of the workshop/ skills developed

The students will be experimenting with drawings, videos, performances and model making techniques. Starting assembling physical fragments which they will gather in the first week, they will cast and make new artefacts troughout the second week. For the final outcome they will translate their tridimensional models in architectural components.

Portfolio Courses provided : sketching, image manipulation and post production, photography,  digital and physical model making, collective performances and installations.

Workshop Schedule

First Week| 22nd January-29th January Alasitas Fair
Arrival & General Introduction of Visiting School, Brief and Schedule.
In the first week, students will have to create their own narrative, choosing a character of the
Diablada (Bolivian traditional dance) and combining it with their personal cultural background. In the
following days, they will have to visit the Alasitas Festival, collecting fragments and pieces, creating
an iconographic catalogue for the previously constructed narrative. With the fragments they have
selected, they will have to start building their own artifacts through drawings, models, videos etc.
Workplaces: UCB, Graciela Rodo Boulanger’s studio.

Second Week| 30th January-3rd Feburary El Alto
The second week is centered on the discovery of El Alto, analyzing the topography, customs, and
differences with the center of La Paz. There will be two different workshops with the participation
of Mario Sarabia and Freddy Mamani Silvestre. The first days will be dedicated to transform each
narrative into a tridimensional model, then the students will start to edit the different fragments and
translate them into architectural components, following new constraints, but still keeping the original
symbolic meaning.
Workplaces: Mario Sarabia’s studio, Teatro Trono

Third Week| 3rd February- 11th February Oruro
During the third week the students will start to assemble their individual outcomes into a single
architectural project. Each model or set of fragments will be metaphorically treated as a character
of the Diablada, therefore the resulting collective design will be based on its choreography. It will be
possible to see how the costumes and the masks are chosen by the dancers and how the parade is
organized. Following the features of this folkloristic and religious ritual, the architecture will represent
an identitarian assemblage. After the final presentation hosted in a cholet, the students will travel to
Oruro, where they will be able to participate to the Carnival.
Workplaces: Teatro Trono, Cholet Crucero del Sur


1) You can make an application by completing the online application found under ‘Links and Downloads’ on the AA Visiting School page. If you are not able to make an online application, email  visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk for instructions to pay by bank transfer. 

2) Once you complete the online application and make a full payment, you are registered to the programme. An image and a text  of your own production are required. They should depict your understanding of cultural assembling.

The deadline for applications is 31 December 2017

All participants travelling from abroad are responsible for securing any visa required, and are advised to contact their home embassy early. After payment of fees, the AA School can provide a letter confirming participation in the workshop.


The workshop encourages people of different background to apply, including current architecture and art students, phd candidates and young professionals. Places are limited, and offered at the discretion of the El Alto Programme Directors. Please contact elalto@aaschool.ac.uk for further information.


The AA Visiting School requires a fee of £1200 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting membership fee.

Fees include tuition, accommodation and private transportation around the city and to El alto. All museums entrances, workshop setup, materials and tools are provided. Flights to La Paz and meals are not included.
Students need to bring their own laptops, digital equipment and model making tools. Please ensure this equipment is covered by your own insurance as the AA takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen


UCB Ave 14 de Septiembre 2, La Paz 4807, Bolivia or Fundacion Compa Calle 17-A C. Satélite, El Alto, Bolivia


Sabrina Morreale and Lorenzo Perri graduated together from the AA in 2016.
Sabrina has worked in many architectural practices between London, Italy,
Thailand and Cambodia. She is also collaborating with various magazines as
illustrator and with the RIBA as curator assistant. 

Lorenzo has worked as a consultant for Inter 7 and Diploma 8 at the AA, while
participating to several competitions with international firms. He is a
co-founder of the research-based Plakat Platform and the Architectural
practice Ecòl. http://e-c-o-l.it/


Programme Heads
Sabrina Morreale
Lorenzo Perri

Programme Tutors
Ronald Grebe Crespo
Freddy Mamani Silvestre

Visiting School Director

Christopher Pierce

T +44 20 7887 4014
F +44 20 7414 0782

Links & Downloads

Programme site


Share |

Visiting School Prospectus


The Architectural Association, Inc. is a Registered Charity Incorporated as a Company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No.171402. Registered office: 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES, 020 7887 4000

Click here to read the AA’s latest review report.

Click here to read the AA’s latest action plan.