Volterra International Design Workshop 2015 – Participants Comments

The Volterra International Design Workshop was one of the most memorial experiences I have had. In our ever shrinking global community it is important to work together to find sustainable solutions. Through design, lectures, and first had experiences we began to delve into all social, economic, and environmental matters of sustainability and its relation to Volterra’s urban form. While rigorous, the Workshop was a joyful time, allowing the participants to build lasting friendships over shared cultural experiences. It is, then, through these relationships where we will continue to learn and grow into the future. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and look forward to a life time of memories.

William Smarzewski (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – USA)


Ten days in Volterra left us memories of misty horizon, walking over rocks from the ocean floor, the sounds of jazz diffused in the maze of streets and evening talks at Massimo’s place …
But most of all – left us experience of the architectural debate in an atmosphere of calm, concentration, distance from the bustle of everyday life. Experience of working in a team, studying the amazing site, discussing on the past and the future, about the roots of culture and the culture of design.
Thank you for putting it all together.

Jan Slyk, Ph.D. (Warsaw University of Technology – Poland)


Volterra brings up memories of a place both tranquil yet energizing. I enjoyed watching the sun set in the distance as I sipped on prosecco on Massimo’s private patio. I was surrounded by a group of inspiring people from Detroit and Warsaw while living in this beautiful, ancient city. We collaborated on a new urban district project called “Volterra Verde- Il Foro Ecologico”, which was an exciting exploration of sustainable practices in a historical context. I left Volterra feeling a great sense of accomplishment, and would not hesitate to return.

Angela Ng (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – USA)


I am very happy for taking part in workshops. Before coming to Volterra I was wondering how the design process in USA works. It turned out that there are a lot of differences. In my opinion the experience of connecting and communicating this two far away cultures was very interesting. I would say in one sentence about the workshops: it was getting to know American culture in Italian environment.

Michal Kulesza (Warsaw University of Technology – Poland)


Volterra is a right place for meditation about life. The workshop is another initiator for meditation about architectural life. I quite appreciate that we got so many valuable recourses in 10 days to take a sip in its rich cultural history; I hope we can have a little more time in the site analysis step to efficiently use those resources.

Jienan Zhang (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – USA)


The Volterra Workshop was an exciting end to a fruitful journey. Capping off a study abroad program with my classmates, I was able to welcome new faces to the Italian oasis I then called home. This workshop provided significant opportunity that manifested itself in many different ways:
Meeting an architectural celebrity. James Timberlake was a participant in the workshop. He, along with Dean Will Wittig, guided the teams to push their architectural designs in new directions. He also offered his knowledge and experience to those present in other ways; in the form of a lecture as well as at the dinner table.
International exposure. I am one of three UDM students that participated in the workshop, but other participants included students from the University of Illinois as well as students from Warsaw, Poland. Working side-by-side with students from different geographical locations and backgrounds was an eye-opening, and enriching task. The new mix allowed the ability to experience the city anew.
Informative lectures. Mixed-in with the studio time of the workshop were lectures from experts of various backgrounds. Among the presenters were James Timberlake (an American architect), Andrea Bianchi (an Italian architect), Will Wittig and Wladek Fuchs (of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture), along with several others.
Interaction with locals. The finale of the workshop commenced with an exhibition, geared at showcasing our work to the citizens of Volterra. The workshop was meant to inspire creative ideas that could positively impact Volterra and its people.
Because of this workshop, we were all given the chance to create a Volterran ‘pearl’.”

Nicole Fricke (University of Detroit Mercy – USA)