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Greetings from NIAUSI!
Exciting things are happening these days, and we thought we would get the word out!

The WMF Symposium

An International Symposium, 14-18 May, 2008, at Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Conservation and Sustainable Development of Civita di Bagnoregio and the Tuff Towns of Central Italy

The World Monuments Fund (WMF) and The Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy (NIAUSI) have joined forces in organizing an international symposium focusing on two crucial (and related) aspects of the preservation of Civita di Bagnoregio and the tufa-based "tuff towns" of Pitigliano, Sorano, Manciano, Castiglione, Civitella, and Lubriano: the geological and cultural sustainability of these remarkable historic sites. These towns all share common challenges.

The goals are to generate a Civita-based case-study including a clear and prioritized scope and budget for stabilization work, focus attention on the socioeconomic and tourist pressures, and strategize ways to convey them to local and international conservation agencies and private benefactors.

Another goal is to develop a model based on sustainable development and existing local initiatives and legislation, and create a network of allied individuals and organizations interested in preserving and sustaining the area's history, built environment, beauty, geo-morphology, culture, and economic viability.

The immediate strategy is to use the symposium as a catalyst for projecting the towns' needs and resulting plan to a larger audience and to funding sources, but also to encourage discussion of alternative development models. NIAUSI's role is to document the proceedings and to make this documentation and its archives available to interested parties in the ongoing pursuit of funding for the necessary physical and cultural preservation efforts.

Civita di Bagnoregio is an exceptional example of a hill town established by the Etruscans in the sixth century B.C. in central Italy. An iconic site known to travelers for many centuries, Civita was hewn from tufa, the soft volcanic rock that distinguishes the region's natural landscape.

Today, difficult terrain and technological advances have resulted in significant challenges to the traditionally agrarian lifestyle of these hill towns. Civita is threatened by erosion, and a large section of the northwest bluff is in danger of collapse. Based on geotechnical lessons learned in the stabilization efforts in nearby Orvieto, an innovative pilot project is now under construction in Civita.

A secondary threat is the decrease in resident population and an alarming increase in uncontrolled tourism. Today, Civita has less than 12 year-round occupants, but receives as many as 3,000 tourists a day on summer weekends.

Professor Astra Zarina, a resident of Civita, with the University of Washington's School of Architecture, studied and documented Civita and its environs for over three decades.

NIAUSI was founded by alumni and friends of the University's programs in 1982, and is working with Professor Zarina and others on the protections and expansion of this documentation, and is now inviting others to help plan the future.

In this international symposium, Professor Zarina, NIAUSI, WMF, the Communes of Bagnoregio, Orvieto, and Pitigliano and the University of Florence have organized a distinguished group of local and international experts familiar with similar geo-technical projects, conservation, neighboring communities, regional planning, cultural tourism, and sustainable economic development. Go to our website to see how you too can become involved.


September Fundraiser

Please join NIAUSI for a September fundraiser to welcome back the 2007 fellows, announce the 2009 fellows, learn about the results of the WMF Symposium, and get updated on NIAUSI activities and the Civita Institute.

NIAUSI will also be announcing the details of its new membership will not want to miss this!

Details will be sent out in July.


Fellowship Program 2009

After a break in our fellowship program to prepare for the Symposium, NIAUSI is proud to announce the 2009 Fellowship competition for public artists, architects, and urban design professionals to live and study in Italy for one or two months.

Please refer all interested potential applicants to our website where application materials will be available in June. Applications will be due August 15, 2008.


New Website

Our Website

The board has worked closely with former fellow Cory Crocker of Well Built Web to redesign and update our website.

Please visit it to learn about news, events, and programs. Many thanks to Cory for his hard work and great design!


New Board Member

NIAUSI is pleased to welcome Thomas T. Miller to the board. Tom is a design consultant for residential and commercial interiors in Seattle. He has been a friend of NIAUSI since the 1980's, when he was a student on the University of Washington's Architecture in Rome program.

Tom has returned to Italy several times since. Last fall, he stayed in Civita, visited with Astra and Tony, and met the fellows in residence. He looks forward to working with the board for the preservation and appreciation of Civita.

Welcome Tom!


Returning Fellows 2007

Many thanks to our returning fellows, Bill Hook, Kristian Kofoed, and Ann Hirschi who each contributed significantly to the NIAUSI Fellowship program experience in 2007.

Bill Hook has been one of the foremost architectural illustrators in the Northwest for over 20 years. While in Civita, he experimented in different ways of observing and communicating the built environment, and of conveying a sense of place, through mixed media drawings done on-site in this remarkable Italian Hilltown.

Kristian Kofoed is an urban planner, attorney, photographer and art critic. While in Civita, Kristian explored and documented transitional edges - the interfaces between the historic built environment and recent building, between inhabited space and uninhabited space, as well as the physical edge conditions at Civita itself and their implications for the town and its future.

Ann Hirschi is a graduate of UW's Architecture in Rome and Hilltown programs and has been working as an arborist in the Seattle area, with a particular interest in implementing community garden programs. She studied the ancient Chestnut grove in the valley adjacent to Civita, looked at its history, its meaning to the residents, and how community stewardship of the grove has evolved over time. The Chestnut grove in the valley below Civita has been owned and harvested collectively by the citizens of Civita since medieval times.

©2008 NIAUSI, The Skinner Building, 1326 Fifth Avenue, Suite 654, Seattle, WA 98101 |