Brian Sowell: Barcelona and the Sidewalk Ballet

Honors Students away from campus for study abroad, co-ops, or internships are encouraged to write about their experiences to share them with the Honors community. Below is an excerpt from Brian Sowell’s (’14) reflection on his study abroad in Barcelona.

To read the full post, visit:

Comparing my experiences in small towns in rural Texas to the social engine of Barcelona, I recognized a distinct difference in their attitudes toward public space. Barcelona embraces the knowledge that the plaça belongs to the public, while Texans seem to eschew any public right. This observation helped me to clarify my understanding that architecture is the direct product of the designer’s beliefs and experiences, and led me to question my own understanding of the architecture framework I consider valid.

As I contemplate progression into graduate school I’m struck by the influence Barcelona had in directing my interest in architecture to the public space. The cultural influences I experienced while abroad opened me to new ideas and methods of thinking, and forced me to confront different worldviews, compare them with my own, and cast a judgment for which ideals to keep and which to discard. This exercise instilled in me a greater desire to define my theory of architecture and to explore new areas and ideas I have never considered before. I strongly urge anyone with the opportunity to travel abroad to engage with that opportunity and let the experience inform their pursuits. It will be one of the best decisions they make.

A view of La Rambla, Barcelona.
Brian Sowell – Barcelona and the Sidewalk Ballet

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