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AUS students attend design studio in Italy
The College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) conducted a Design in Italy - Studio Abroad. The three weeks studio, conducted by Visiting Professors, Cristiano Luchetti and Massimo Imparato, between June 8-30, 2013 in Macerata, Italy, included 14 students from the architecture and art and design departments.
Students lived and worked in Macerata, Italy. Located in the Marche region, Macerata is a medium-sized Italian city of approximately 40,000 residents and it is surrounded by beautiful, hilly countryside. Many of the towns in the Marche region are historic, medieval walled cities. Being in a less "touristy" area, program participants had the opportunity to experience Italian lifestyle and local culture.
The already existing University of Oregon AHA study abroad program in Macerata was used as logistic base for the setting of the new AUS program. Studio space and accommodation were provided by the local AHA staff leaded by Director Filiberto Bracalente. Their high professionalism contributed to the success of the program. The AHA site is located in the historic walled city and the studio was located in a beautiful 17th century palazzo with ceiling frescoes and within walking distance from the University of Macerata (the local Italian institution). The location of the program exposed students to a rich cultural experience. Italian culture and everyday life were integral part of students' experience.
The course was conducted as two distinct modules. During the first week students had the opportunity to travel, accompanied by Professor Luchetti. Field trips were arranged in the area around Macerata where many important design product companies are located. Students learned from the "making" traditions that are characteristic of Italian industry and manufacturing. They learned from manufacturing processes related to a range of products and services, including furniture and furnishings, household items, lighting, home appliances, and multimedia.
Companies such as EMU, Poltrona Frau, IGuzzini, Rainbow multimedia, Fiam, and Simonetti welcomed the group and provided interesting tours of their sites. As a final component of the first week the group traveled to Rome and Venice, visiting main cultural attractions that included the MAXXI Museum designed by Zaha Hadid.
In Venice students spent an entire day visiting the Biennale di Arte Contemporanea. The outcome of the trip was a journal that each student produced once back in Macerata.
In the second part of the course, students elected the public spaces of Macerata as their study field and developed new concepts and design proposals promoting the interaction of singles, families and groups in the open space. Professor Imparato lectured and directed the group during this part of the course. The program abroad benefitted from close contact with a number of Italian colleagues in Macerata. The AHA program director, Filiberto Bracalente, conducted an on-site visit around Macerata. Professor Paolo Bonvini (Universita' di Ancona) and Professor Manuel Orazi (Universita' di Bologna) attended final reviews.
According to participating student, Raudha Al Ghurair, "It was the experience of a lifetime and we learnt a lot academically and gained skills for life. I am so glad I was able to participate in an experience like this."
The AUS Office of International Exchange Programs assisted in the early organization of the trip and University of Oregon AHA program administrators assisted with logistics in Italy.
Results from studio will be presented to the AUS campus and the broader community through an exhibition and reception in the CAAD Gallery in October 2013.