2012 Croatia

Program Description
The Fall Croatia Design/Build 2012 Program, a service learning opportunity, brings students to the medieval town of Bale city of butterflies on the Istria peninsula on the north Adriatic coast.

Students will collaborate with our partners, Municipality of Bale, Bale Tourist Board and town residents to design and build several community amenities, including a cultural/ecological park featuring dinosaur fossils, habitat restoration for butterflies and the design of interpretive trails and rest areas. Community gathering areas and performance space will be incorporated into the park. Students will explore and practice a variety of skills including community design process, culturally appropriate design, green building techniques, habitat restoration, interpretive design and traditional and vernacular construction. The process is formed around the collaborative model of inclusive design. Each student will take on individual responsibilities for various aspects of the project. The rapid pace of both the design and construction will demand a deep level of commitment and responsibility. Students will have classes in graphics, site design and construction documentation and will experience how the community design process informs an environmental design project. In the building phase, students will be taught the principles and methodologies of construction, how to use tools, calculate materials and estimate costs. The students will work closely with the residents of Bale including fireman and staff from the Construction and Utility Services Department. While many parts of Croatia remained traumatized by recent ethnic conflict there is a long tradition of tolerance between the people who live in Istria, regardless of their nationality. Although many Istrians today are ethnic Croats, a strong regional identity has existed over the years. The Istrian county in Croatia is bilingual. Every citizen has the right to speak either Italian or Croatian.

Bale is strategically located close to Pula, Venice, Brijuni National Park and the Adriatic coast and is accessible from Zagreb. These present study sites for the program to explore are known vernacular building styles and techniques that have Illyrian and Roman influences. Architectural stone and wood carving and stone paving mosaics are highly developed crafts found throughout Croatia that will be explored. Croatia has rich and varied geographical features, extensive rocky coast, pine forests and arid mountain ranges. The most spectacular natural wonder we will visit is the cascading limestone pools at Plitvice Lakes National Park, a world heritage site. Plitvice Lakes is ironically the site where the first fatality of the recent genocide occurred in the mid 1990s. This is the background through which we will explore the culture and history of Croatia. By living and working with the host community of Bale, traveling extensively through the Balkans and meeting local academics, professionals and students, the participants will gain a deep understanding of the beauty, complexity and challenges facing this part of the world.

Our guides, Toni Erdfeld a psychologist at Dormitory Podmurvice and Edi Pastovicchio, local mayor of Bale will offer insights into the local culture and its history and we will participate in local cultural celebrations and events. The interactions with the host institution and intensive dialogue with the local population will offer students the rare opportunity to see how open spaces and nature are used and appreciated by the residents of this distinctive walled city. Advanced undergraduate, graduate and non-matriculated students in landscape architecture, architecture, anthropology, fine arts and other fields may apply. Program emphasis is on, but not limited to students who are preparing for professional careers in environmental design and construction disciplines, international non-profit activism, social justice, tourism development, historic preservation with an emphasis on working in habitat restoration, interpretation and community development. Participants are selected on the basis of high scholarship, academic preparation, motivation and emotional maturity. Students will work with the client and faculty to build an interactive landscape. Students will learn the skills of small site design and construction detailing, management and community participation.