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Senior Lecturer in Architectural and Urban Design Dr Federico Wulff supports national heritage preservation during visit to Chile

15 February 2023

Federico Wulff and Chris Whitman (WSA) with Renato D'Alencon, Director of International of the School of Architecture of the Universidad Catolica of Chile-UC
Federico Wulff and Chris Whitman (WSA) with Renato D'Alencon, Director of International of the School of Architecture of the Universidad Catolica of Chile-UC

In early December, Senior Lecturer and MA AD Course Director Dr Federico Wulff travelled to Chile to take a leading role in contemporary architectural design approaches related to heritage preservation.

Dr Wulff was in the country as an international expert member of the Advisory Board for the Regeneration of the campus at the Universidad Catolica of Chile-UC. Alongside this, he also played an active role in promoting the Welsh School of Architecture’s activities and programmes amongst the next generation of Architectural Designers at three Chilean universities (Universidad Catolica of Chile-UC -Top #39 in architecture QS leagues 2023, the Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso-UCV, and the Universidad de Santiago de Chile-USACH). Finally, he also presented his research at the Biannual Conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS 2022), held in Santiago de Chile.

Dr Wulff, who is a Senior Lecturer in Architectural and Urban Design and Programme Lead for the MA in Architectural Design at the Welsh School of Architecture, is also a European researcher and a multi-award-winning practitioner. He holds a Europa Nostra Grand Prix 2019 (the most prestigious award in heritage preservation at the European Level) for his restoration of the Oratory of the Partal Palace, a 14thC. mosque in the Alhambra (Granada, Spain).

This trip to Chile allowed Dr Wulff to contribute to the current debates on contemporary architectural design interventions in striking and significant 19thC. and 1950s heritage buildings, while contributing to their preservation. The 1950s main building of the USACH Campus is the site of a famous balcony where the democratic President of Chile, Dr Salvador Allende, delivered speeches to the University community in the late 1960s-early 1970s before his assassination in 1973 and subsequent succession by the dictator August Pinochet. Pinochet consciously destroyed the balcony for its political symbolic significance for Chilean democracy.

Where national identity and significance are embodied in the historical and contemporary architectural process, expert design-research thinking focusing on a sensitive and flowing dialogue between contemporary architecture and heritage values from the past becomes crucial to the lifeblood of this University’s campus and extensive to the Chilean nation.

Dr Wulff was perceived as being very well qualified to consult by the Chilean authorities, holding and extended expertise in Architecture and Urban Design Research (AD-R / UD-R) methods, tools and techniques, experience and skills in heritage preservation and management, and excellent award-winning achievements in contemporary architectural interventions in UNESCO-protected heritage contexts.

Alongside making tangible contributions to current preservation efforts, Dr Wulff also took the time to present at the ACHS 2022 Conference his research about the urban and socio-economic reactivation of the Barrio Franklin flea market district of Santiago de Chile, jointly developed with Dr Stefania Pareti (Senior Lecturer of Inclusive Economy at the Business School of the Universidad Andres Bello of Santiago de Chile) to others within the field. The 6th Biennial Conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS 2022) was held at the Pontificia University of Santiago de Chile (PUC).

Dr Wulff spoke on his research line about Architecture and Urban Design-Research (AD-R/UD-R) applied to Interculturality, Migration, Heritage, and the development of strategies for urban, social, and architectural reactivation in deprived urban areas. Sharing knowledge, techniques, approaches, and motivations amongst the wider public and the academic community contributes to national and international efforts to champion innovative approaches to contemporary architecture in its sensitive dialogue to heritage contexts while contributing to its preservation. This is a topic that the Welsh School of Architecture considers central to its teaching – celebrating from a contemporary architectural designer’s approach the historical values of buildings and urban environments from a sustainable, community-focused approach into the future.

Dr Federico Wulff is already looking ahead to a trip to Pakistan in late February-early March  2023 focusing on contemporary interventions in the historic walled city of Lahore, the capital of the Punjab Region, and sharing the benefits of trips like these with his MA AD postgraduate students, who will also participate on this trip. Externally, his practice W+G Architects has been awarded 10 first prizes in International Architecture competitions. His projects have addressed a wide range of issues from public spaces (ErasForum public spaces in Spain), Heritage (Restoration of a 14thC. mosque in the Arabic palace of the Alhambra, Spain), to cooperation projects in Ethiopia and Morocco.

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