Vancouver Summer Program

The Vancouver Summer Program (UBC VSP) is a four-week experience for international undergraduate students that combines academic courses with social and cultural explorations at UBC and in Vancouver. We offer course packages that look at different aspects of architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design. Our packages consist of interactive lectures, in-studio design projects, along with touring of the local region and are taught by many notable instructors, including the former Mayor of Vancouver, and practitioners working in the field.

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Summer 2022 course packages 

Package A: Thinking by Design

Design Thinking
The built environment is full of design problems. From products to cities, these problems do not have correct answers, but rather a range of possible solutions. To tackle these design problems, we need to explore different ways of thinking. In this hands-on course, students will learn to approach open-ended problems through the lens of a designer and explore the built environment through hands-on design projects. Students will tackle each project in stages, form initial concept to final result, with interim reviews along the way. They will learn to communicate their ideas both verbally and to critically analyze the work of classmates. Drawing from examples in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and product design, students will cultivate abstract thinking skills and increase their visual literacy.

Design Thinking Through Drawing
Drawing is an essential part of design thinking and communication. From sketches, to plans, to detailed diagrams, visual representation is a fundamental skill. While digital methods are increasingly common, the culture of putting pencil to paper is still at the heart of these techniques. This hands-on course introduces you to the idea recording and generation of drawing techniques used in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. Through lectures, field trips and in-studio sessions, students will learn methods of visually communicating concepts and intent. With a focus on analog, the skills developed in this course will offer a strong base for further studies in design and design media. No previous drawing experience required.

Package B: Cities and Sustainability

Complex(cities): How They're Made
Taught by the former Mayor of Vancouver Sam Sullivan, this class uses the development of the City of Vancouver to illustrate how many social, political, economic, creative and natural forces combine and interact to make a city. Students learn and experience these forces through the eyes of those who were a part of it. There will be tours and guest lectures from those who played a role in specific development projects. Students will gain an insight into both the practical and theoretical considerations that have led to the city as we know it.

Green System Planning
Vancouver is a beautiful and sustainable city in a dramatic natural setting. What role do the natural areas in and around the city play in sustaining a metropolitan area such as Vancouver? This course will introduce how urban natural areas clean air and water, sustain wildlife and provide psychological and other health benefits to people. Students will learn about the most important environmental services and human benefits provided by the large parks and natural areas in the Vancouver region; and students will hike or bike on guided field trips to some of the region’s most important and instructive landscapes, open spaces and parks.