The Fourteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2012
Berkeley Prize 2012

Víctor Alejandro Oseguera Abarca Proposal

Dear Diary:

Dear Diary:

You’ll never find out what happened today… I got an e-mail from The Berkeley Prize. I knew it was too early for it to be the message announcing the winners of the competition [you know I get goose-bumps every time I even think about that] so when I saw the title, “BERKELEY PRIZE Fellowships”, I was intrigued about what it was all about.

When I opened the link that was in it, it led me to a site where they explained and described that there were two types of fellowships that were proposed to the semifinalists of the Essay Prize Competition: A Travel one and a Design one; After reading the two, I was particularly drawn to the Travel Fellowship… You know how much I love to travel. I couldn’t help but remember how lucky and blessed I’ve been by having the opportunity to know other States and Countries.

Every time I travel, every time I explore, I find it so magical to learn about how other people live their everyday life: whether it’s a culinary, urban, crafty or common-sense knowledge, there’s always something new for me to soak in. I’m starting to believe that this action is what builds up people’s personalities: no matter if we go miles away from home or if we just visit a friend’s house, to behold all of those interactions and relationships always gets engraved in our memories, and can become the guidance on how to act in similar situations.

It also allows us to put things in perspective; all of the sudden, our problems don’t seem to be so huge… They say the only way to appreciate what we have is by losing it. To travel is a way to –temporarily- lose what we own, and not just materialistically speaking, as we always get to lose all or some of our stability and routine [How refreshing yet scary is that?].

As I’m sure I’ve told you in the past, what I love the most about going on an international journey is the fact that, when I get back, I realize why and just how much I love Mexico, and of how much I could do to remunerate all the things my country has given to me.

So, then, the inevitable question to solve was: From all the magnificent corners of the whole wide world, where do you want to go, what for and why?

They stated that one of the main requirements to fulfill [to actually win this fellowship] would be to justify that the purpose of our trip is to attend something –a workshop, conference, summer school, etc- that will allow us to understand that Architecture is a Social Art [if not the most social, I think] and, therefore, share this notion with all the people we are going to work and engage with, of course through our work, but also by chatting with them about what’s Architecture’s role in the process of bettering our society.

By know, you should know how thrilled I am. You know how positive I can get when it comes to learning experiences: I just love this feeling of discovering something for the first time. Although it is a particularly vulnerable event [because, finally, we’re admitting that there are so many things we’re unaware of] it becomes empowering: Now we know something else, something that could be helpful to us and to our people and, someday, if we’re very lucky, we’ll get to pass that thought to someone in latent need of it.

It’s hard not to get too excited when we know that we are candidates for a marvelous gift; you see, I try to control myself, but I get so overwhelmed I’ll might just let things unfold the way they are intended to unfold. At the end of the day, to dream is free-of-charge, and –like I’ve told you before- is the only way to know what we really want and go for it.

As I surfed through all existing websites [aren’t you just enchanted by the internet?] there was finally an option I felt really suited me.It’s an International conference called ARTS IN SOCIETY [some title, huh?] and it will be held in Liverpool, UK, from July 23rd to 25th. The whole purpose of the conference [http://artsinsociety.com/conference-2012/] is to let people know what Art´s position is in our everyday life. As I read through, I couldn’t be more convinced this was exactly the place I want to go to. As tried to understand the structure of the event, I found out anyone can be a speaker, which makes it the perfect scenario to both give and get knowledge… talk about perfection!

Again, I thought: What would I speak about? Then, I remembered my 6th semester speech about Kitsch Architecture. I literally became obsessed, because Kitsch Art has always been set in our social consciousness, as we all can confirm there is an attraction [subtle or strong] towards those elements deliberately made in a tacky, tasteless way. This fact generates a love-hate relationship [although it mostly goes back to the ‘love’ phase] between observer and art form, ultimately becoming a strong link between art and society.

I already submitted my proposal for a 30 minute paper. I have to wait a few weeks to get a response from them (though I really think it’s a selection-worthy topic, right?), yet, if I don’t succeed to become a presenter, I could (and would love to) attend the other papers, and get to know this wonderful city and these marvelous people.

There is something about British Architecture I’ve always been drawn to: there’s always elegance and poetry to it. That’s why I thought it would be a great idea to stay in London for 10 days, so I can hunt for some interesting contemporary pieces of architecture and, if possible, go to all museums I can, specially the Tate Modern: They have talks, discussions and workshops scheduled up to March, so I’m sure there’ll definitely have some in July as well, and, based on the current topics, I’m sure I’ll find something related to Social Art and/or Architecture.

After a very long find-out-how-much-it-costs-in-the-UK session, I developed this Chronologic Expense List, based upon the places I’d love to go and activities I’d like to do if I won the Fellowship:

Flight Mexico City-London-Mexico City: $970 USD.

Subway Ticket from Heathrow Airport to Central London: $8 USD.

10 Night Stay in London’s Smart Hyde Park Inn Hostel: $394 USD.

Regular Discussion fee at Tate Modern Museum: $24 USD.

Oyster Subway Card: $8 USD.

Subway Fares to visit distant points within the city: $150 USD

London Food Expenses: $240 USD

Train from London Euston Station to Liverpool Lime St. Station: $40 USD.

Taxi from Lime St. Station to Hatters Hostel: $8 USD.

5 nights Stay in Liverpool’s Hatters Hostel: $200 USD.

Conference Fee: $550 USD.

Liverpool Food Expenses: $117USD.

Taxi from Hatters Hostel to Lime St. Station: $8USD.

Train from Liverpool Lime St. Station to London Euston St. Station: $40 USD.

Subway Ticket from Central London to Heathrow Airport: $8 USD.

SubTotal $ 2765 USD.

10% Addition for emergencies and/or unplanned events $276.50 USD.

TOTAL $3041.50 USD.

Departure from Mexico City to London: July 9th. Arrival at London: July 10th. Stay at London: July 10th to 21st. Departure from London to Liverpool: July 22nd. Arrival at Liverpool: July 22nd. Stay at Liverpool: July 22nd to 26th. Conference Days: July 23rd to July 25th. Return to London: July 26th. Departure from London to Mexico City: July 26th.

Not bad, is it? I’d really like to believe I have a shot at this. I’ll talk to you when I know the final decision. Until then, fingers crossed!

_Alejandro.


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Main Façade of the Conservatorio de las Rosas.
Main Façade of the Conservatorio de las Rosas.
Built in the old fashioned way, the classrooms of the Conservatory are arranged around a courtyard
Built in the old fashioned way, the classrooms of the Conservatory are arranged around a courtyard
Inner peace and inspiration are also provided by the enchanting vegetation.
Inner peace and inspiration are also provided by the enchanting vegetation.
Handmade details are the quintessential expression of miscegenation.
Handmade details are the quintessential expression of miscegenation.
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