Bio2 Design Lab: Tianjin to Twin Cities

Bio2 Design Lab: Tianjin to Twin Cities — About

About Bio2 Design Lab: Tianjin to Twin Cities

Program Overview

In this study abroad course, we will interrogate architecture’s new relationship with nature in China and the U.S. Together, architecture and biology faculty and students from Tianjin University and University of Minnesota will study biological models in the development of solutions to architectural problems. Participants will tour significant architectural and natural sites in Beijing/Tianjin and Minneapolis/Saint Paul, meanwhile generating proposals that probe the disciplinary intersections between architecture and biology in two distinct cultures. Students will be exposed to meaningful aspects of each other’s society and daily life that go beyond a tourist’s superficial perspective.

The first half of the trip will be spent in Tianjin, and the second half will be based in the Twin Cities. In Tianjin we will establish a base studio in collaboration with professor Wei Yang and her students at Tianjin University. From this strategic location, students will have easy access to sites in Beijing, Langfang, Tangshan, and beyond. The second half will be spent in the Twin Cities, where we will host our Tianjin collaborators and complete our workshop with the help of biology students and faculty from the University of Minnesota.

Program Dates

May 18 - June 9, 2017 (5/18-6/1 will be in China, 6/1-6/9 will be in Minneapolis)

Application Deadline

April 1, 2017

Course Description

ARCH 4150

ARCH 5250: 
This three-credit graduate and undergraduate study abroad studio is a collaborative workshop focused on developing new international connections between China and the U.S. as well as new disciplinary connections between architecture and biology.

Program Leaders

Blaine Brownell is an associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Minnesota.

Marc Swackhamer is an associate professor and head of the University of Minnesota School or Architecture.


We will visit many buildings and landscapes of significance in Beijing, Tianjin, and the Twin Cities—such as the Forbidden City and Great Wall (Beijing), the Binhai Cultural Centre in Tianjin, and the Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum in Minneapolis.

Housing & Meals

Twin Cities students will reside in hotels throughout the China portion of the trip and are expected to have their own accommodations after they return (non-UMN students will reside in hotels in the Twin Cities). Three group meals are included in the program fee.

Program Fee

The program fee is $3410, but is based on the participation of 16 students.  

Cost of Participation

More Information 

Blaine Brownell: