Romagna Living Lab

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Towards an Open Landscape Academy: Uncovering Ravenna’s Landscape Democracy Story

  • Kick-off for the Romagna Living Lab
  • Workshop hosts: University of Bologna (Ravenna Seat) and Fondazione Flaminia in Ravenna
  • Workshop dates July 25 – 31, 2023
  • First Multiplier Event: November 24, 2023


Ravenna, a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, impresses not only by its rich and unique history. It is a landscape full of inspiring contrasts. The industrial port with its global flows of goods finds itself next to precious bird sanctuaries. A long and sandy beach serves the recreation needs of the masses. In parallel, there is a lot of distinguished cultural heritage tourism. The delta landscape of the wide basin of the river Po has been managed and drained by humans over millennia. And yet, flood has become an increasingly threatening issue, as the most recent inundations from May 2023 have shown. Hotels and tourist accommodations exist in abundance, but except for the main holiday season, they are often vacant. At the same time, many social groups have a hard time finding a home they can afford.

Against this background, the first international summer school of the OLA ERASMUS consortium took place from July 25 – 31, 2023, hosted by the University of Bologna (at its Ravenna seat) and the Flaminia Foundation. This NGO focusses on transferring scientific knowledge from the University of Bologna to the Romagna province. The international participants came from lead partner Nürtingen-Geislingen University as well as from Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences in Germany, the Agricultural University of Athens in Greece, the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Hungary and the University of Maryland in the US. The project consortium further includes the following NGO partners that have a lot of competence in participatory approaches: KulturAktiv from Hungary, Commonspace from Greece and the LE:NOTRE Institute from the Netherlands. Altogether, 45 participants attended over the nine workshop days.

The workshop was working under the theme: Against all odds - Defying future through participatory design.

Location of the Romagna Living Lab in Ravenna

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Workshop goals and outcomes

The goal of the workshop was to identify and articulate landscape democracy challenges in the Ravenna territory by field work and interaction with the local community. Mixed teams were formed and they all developed an individual approach to the task.

During the workshop week, the following concepts have been generated:

  • The group Mortar between the tiles declared the area along the canal as a regional landscape park ranging from the city to the coast. This idea was complemented by the design of a participatory model of how this park could be achieved
  • Lucidarsena plays with the words ‘lucidar’ (giving light) and the toponyme ‘Darsena’ given to the old port area. The concept includes the development of a light festival as an attractive way of including local community in the redevelopment of Darsena.
  • AdattAzione formulated the vision of a community-based flood and drought resilient and adaptive Ravenna region.
  • Ravenna Links focused on identifying a good process and methodical approach towards building landscape knowledge, problem identification and ideation collaboratively with the local community.
  • Poweract proposed mainstreaming the methodology of participatory community innovation through social entrepreneurship. The team exemplified the approach on the example of a container-based interim use. Please also listen to their audio presentation

Collaborative reflection: please visit our Ravenna Padlet

Synthesis of concepts and transferable ideas

Workshop Teams

Tutors and staff not on the team pictures:

  • Luigi Bartolomei (overall coordination), University of Bologna, Italy
  • Michael Venturelli (organisation & coordination), University of Bologna, Italy
  • Ernesto Antonini, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Lia Marchi, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Deni Ruggeri, University of Maryland, US
  • David Myers, University of Maryland, US
  • Ellen Fetzer, Nürtingen-Geislingen University, DE (OLA project coordinator)
  • Andrea Conti, LE:NOTRE Institute
  • Angeliki Paraskevopoulou, Agricultural University of Athens, Greece

OLA Workshop team at the kick-off at Technopole

Follow-ups and Multiplier Event

This workshop also served as the kick-off for the Ravenna Living Lab. The ideas generated will be developed further along with the ERASMUS project.

The OLA team met again in Ravenna on November 24, 2024, to organise a dissemination event with local planners, designers and NGO representatives. During this multiplier event, the local community was be invited to engage deeply with the outcomes of the workshop and to identify strategies for local implementation, which will be further accompanied by the living lab process.

Some impressions from the multiplier event:

Further impressions from the intensive study programme in June 2023

ERASMUS+ Programme

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The OLA Project is partially funded by the ERASMUS+ European Union grant program, under grant no.2022-1-DE01-KA220-HED-000085922. Neither the European Commission nor the project's national funding agency is responsible for the content or liable for any losses or damages incurred that are the result of the use of these resources. Grant holder: Nürtingen-Geislingen University in Germany.