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Summer School "RecycLand: Walking in Shrinking Territories"

16-17 July 2021: Training days @ virtual mode

29 August -> 6 September 2021: Summer School @ Biella > Ivrea > Torino

29 October 2021: Study Day @ Polytechnic University of Turin

APPLY BY JUNE 1st 2021

RecycLand is the 4th edition of the walking Summer School promoted by the Laboratorio del Cammino (LdC), an inter-university network of researchers that develops innovative teaching activities aimed at exploring the methodological contribution of walking in urban planning and design. The Summer School will take place in August-September 2021 and will cross the territory between Biella and Turin by walking. Participants will be asked to investigate the transformations taking place in the territories crossed, and elaborate spatial narratives and possible design trajectories for improving the habitability of places.


The territories of Biella and Ivrea experienced two fundamental phases of the industrialization process that affected Italy during the 20th century. Cradle of the Italian industrial revolution (the first mechanical looms were installed here in 1817), Biella hosted a woolen textile district articulated in a polycentric way and strongly intertwined with the territory and its society. Since the end of the 19th century, numerous entrepreneurs and industrial families have used the company to transform the local context, ensuring a high quality of life for employees, and promoting out-standing projects. Just 30 kilometers away from Biella, Ivrea and the Canavese region have known since the 1930s one of the most far-sighted industrial experiences of the 20th century in terms of the technical organization and its political & cultural references of the industry, thanks to the outstanding human and entrepreneurial adventure by Adriano Olivetti. Olivetti's experience marked an important season not only of the industrialization of the Country but also of its urban planning, which in Ivrea has found significant application in the urban expansion plans and projects and in the diffusion of new housing forms.

Since the end of the 1970s, Biella and Ivrea went through, with different trajectories and speeds, a radical industrial crisis that led to the transformation of production, to the disposal of a significant amount of industrial spaces, and to growing social and territorial imbalances. The crises of the 2000s, including the one created by the ongoing pandemic, have multiplied the effects of the economic contraction and have expanded the conditions of abandonment, decline and inertia of the landscapes of production. While some large companies resist and increase their wealth, the territory is instead characterized by phenomena of “hyper-dismantling”, such as demographic downsizing, erosion of family assets, abandonment of inland areas and outmigration of younger generations.

At the same time, the global climate crisis has also impacted on the relationship between territory and production, the first suffering from lack or overabundance of water (an essential element for textile production), with problematic outcomes from the point of view of soil management and the mobility of people and goods: rising temperatures, high hydrogeological risk, related both to the melting of glaciers and to the proximity between industrial (often abandoned)  buildings and waterways, the pollution of the aquifers, with consequences on the quality of products, including textiles, and the abandonment of the agricultural areas producing rice and wine.

Today the Biellese and Canavese areas represent two emblematic cases of shrinking territories which, following both the change in global economic conditions and the local consequences of climate change, require a radical spatial reorganization. Although in different forms and intensities, what unites these two geographies is a metamorphosis of the relations between territory and production, with respect to which urban planning and design have been severely tested in the consistency of their cognitive apparatus and the effectiveness of their policies. The large factories, the yards, the infrastructures, but also the houses, offices and commercial spaces, designed, inhabited and signified by economies that are now vanished, restricted or replaced, are waiting for new uses for local communities, they await “new ecologies” (R. Banham).

Shrinking territories which, despite the difficult adaptation to contemporary dynamics, respond in different ways to the current context. Ivrea, recently recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as an exceptional example of “Industrial City of the 20th Century” is looking for a destiny for the enormous Olivetti’s material legacy, made up of large modern factories, homes for employees with high housing standards, and a constellation of social services servicing the life of local communities and scattered throughout the Canavese area, today only partially filled with new practices. By pursuing the new opportunities opened up by culture and innovation, and building an alliance of private and public actors who overcome the heroism of the 20th century by trying to act as a network, Biella instead has rethought itself as a “City of Creativity”. In 2019 when the city became part of the “Unesco Creative Cities” network, Biella has discovered itself as incubator of an incredibly lively social fabric, made up of cultural institutions, foundations, entreprises and associations, that become promoters and supporters of local development projects seeking to overcome the problems of shrinkage and demographic decline.

What metamorphoses affect the spaces of production in the areas of Biella and Ivrea? In front of the current global climate crisis, what responses emerge from the shrinking territories and what trajectories for urban planning and design? And to what extent the walk and the direct and bodily experience of places constitute a privileged angle for grasping the dynamics of shrinkage, and the transformation processes, the temporary uses and the incremental reoccupation of industrial and housing spaces?


The goal of the Summer School is to understand how much the “walking through”, the vision, the listening and the slow crossing of places, are essential ways to read and investigate the ongoing phenomena of shrinkage. In particular, supervised by teachers, researchers and artists who work closely with the territory and its transformations, students will be guided to research and describe the metamorphosis of industrial spaces and to recognize the challenges posed by climate change.


Two days of online training are scheduled before the start of the walk. The training will give participants the knowledge and tools needed to carry out the Summer School activities. Participation to the two training days is mandatory. These will be held on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 July 2021; the organization will be supervised by the LdC delegates of the University of Basilicata. There will be a seminar on some methodological aspects related to doing planning and design by walking, a lecture on the territory crossed and on the related planning policies, and an initial discussion with the participants for instructing the objectives and methods of their work. If the evolution of the pandemic allows it, the face-to-face participation at the event scheduled in Matera at the UNIBAS venues will also be possible.

The Summer School will take place from 29 August to 6 September 2021 and will consist of a walking itinerary from Biella to Turin, stopping in Miagliano, Sordevolo, Settimo Vittone, Ivrea and Scarmagno.

The walk will take place if the health situation is under control and in any case in compliance with the health regulations currently in force . In case of impossibility to carry out the walk, the Summer School will take place in a virtual mode and students will attend a cycle of online seminars, carry on an individual walking exercise, and develop an individual book with the supervision of teachers and tutors.

A final Study-Day is scheduled for October 29th 2021 in Turin during which the results of the Summer School will be presented by students and the results evaluated by the LdC Scientific Committee. The participation to the study-day will be allowed also in virtual mode. The results of the students’ works will be uploaded on the website of the Laboratorio del Cammino.


The Call for participants of the Summer School is open from 3 May to 1 June 2021. It is addressed to students from the undergraduate and master degree courses in: Territorial, urban and landscape-environmental planning; Urban planning; Architecture; Geography and territorial sciences; Urban Design & Landscape Architecture; Building engineering and related courses, from the partner universities of the Summer School: Turin Polytechnic, Milan Polytechnic, University of Camerino, University of Cagliari, University of Palermo, University of Basilicata, LAUD / Bilkent University. 1 student will be selected from the University of Teramo.

Students from other universities can also apply. However, their acceptance will be subject to restricted availability. The maximum number of students admitted will be 15 people.

To participate, students must send by 1 June 2021 via email to an academic curriculum vitae, a motivation letter and a portfolio with a selection of projects.

Acceptance of the application will be communicated by the organizers of the LdC by Monday 14th June 2021.

During and after the walk, the students, arranged in groups, will be required to prepare an A5 book which will include the outcomes of the activities and surveys carried out during the Summer School.

At the end of the Summer School and if the work will be graded positively by the Scientific Committee of the Laboratorio del Cammino during the final Study Day planned for the end of October 2021, students from partner universities of the LdC will receive 3 or 4 training credits (CFU). Virtual participation to the Study-day will be allowed.

Each group of students will be supervised by a tutor who will offer support to the development of their book.


Participation to the Summer School is subject to payment, to be made directly on site, of the cost of meals, accommodations, travel by bus / train and the rental of a van with a driver for the transport of luggage. A preliminary estimate of the costs is around 140 euros each. The trip to Biella and from Turin is the responsibility of each participant. During the journey, the group will stay in hostels or in public facilities granted by the municipalities. Participants will be required a spirit of adaptation and a sense of sharing, while respecting individual values. Most meals will be prepared by the group itself on the basis of a common fund collected at the beginning of the Summer School directly by the organizers.


For information, write an email to


Serena Marchionni & Luca Lazzarini (LdC coordinators), Mirko Greco, Ilaria Tonti (Polytechnic University of Turin), Marcella Turchetti (Olivetti Historical Archive Association), Michele Cerruti But (Pistoletto Foundation), Viviana Sabia, Saverio Massaro, Silvia Parentini (University of Basilicata).



Luca Lazzarini and Serena Marchionni (LdC coordinators), Anna Maria Colavitti & Sergio Serra (University of Cagliari); Cristiana Rossignolo (Polytechnic University of Turin); Marco Mareggi, Chiara Merlini, Andrea Rolando (Polytechnic University of Milan); Flavio Stimilli and Massimo Sargolini (University of Camerino); Filippo Schilleci and Annalisa Giampino (University of Palermo); Daniele Cinciripini (University of Teramo); Daniela Allocca (EPP/Progetto Fiori); Maria Valeria Mininni, Ina Macaione, Chiara Rizzi (University of Basilicata); Bülent Batuman & Hatice Karaca (LAUD/Bilkent University); Marcella Turchetti (Olivetti Historical Archive Association); Maria Teresa Silvestrini (A. Einstein high school), Michele Cerruti But and Paolo Naldini (Pistoletto Foundation).

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