The University Of Oregon Historic Preservation and Architecture Program's

Italy Field School

June 24 through July 19, 2007

Applications still being accepted!


The Italy Field School provides a unique window into the stone building culture of Italy's Ossola Valley. With the guidance of regional scholars, students explore medieval villages learning the history, culture and unusual stone architecture of the area. Course work also focuses on documenting and analyzing important structures and participating in a hands-on building project. Each year the Italy Field School attracts a range of participants: from practicing cultural resource professionals to graduate and undergraduate students. The Field School in Oira adds an exiting international element to the UO's Historic Preservation Program and Pacific Northwest Field Schools.

Site Information: Oira, Canova and the Ossola Valley

Map of Ossola Valley A stone church in Oira

Oira is a small village of about 200 people located one hour northwest of Milan by train. Nestled between the steep slopes of the towering alps, Oira lies at the north end of the narrow Ossola valley as it winds its way toward Switzerland and the Simplone Pass. Through it?s relative isolation, the Ossola valley has held the secret of its striking natural beauty and amazing stone hamlets for many years. The valley has a long history of granite quarrying and milling and has many intact stone villages, a number of which stand as they did in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Course Descriptions

The program is designed to immerse the students in the history and culture of the Ossola Valley. The curriculum combines tours, analysis and field work to explore the built environment and basic preservation techniques as they apply to the stone structures of the Ossola Valley.

Repairing a stone path
Reading Cultural Landscapes
Instructor: Kingston Heath

The instructor will guide the students through the fascinating history of the built environment of the region. Italian scholars and guides will take the students from the beginnings of the stone building culture 3000 years ago through the medieval and later periods. This course will focus on interpreting traditional building techniques and folk living patterns in the Ossola Valley as they manifest themselves in the built environment.

Repairing a stone path
Preservation Field School: Theory and Practice
Instructor: Ken Marquardt, Paolo Mafrici (stone mason)

The field school course consists of a hands-on construction project, either restoring a historic structure or building a structure using the traditional vocabulary. The coordinator of the course, Ken Marquardt, has been rebuilding stone structures in the Ossola Valley for many years. Students will be working alongside a master Italian stone mason. (3 credits)

Repairing a stone path
Field Recording Methods and Analysis
Instructor: Michael Cockram

The course will explore field recording practices from analytical sketching to measured documentation. The instructor will give demonstrations and examples of methods of understanding and recording place through drawing. The emphasis of the course will be to foster graphic literacy in producing and reading visual information. The course will focus on the analysis of a particular village through graphic place recording and visual note taking. The instructor will lead periodic discussions and assist students with an individual field work/research project. (3 credits)


Mid session break July 5 through 8, 2007 During the four day break, students will be encouraged to visit important sites of the area according to their interests. Some off-site exploration might include: the Renaissance island palace of Isola Bella in Stresa, the high alpine park of Val Grande, the distinct architecture of the Italian Alps, or many sites of Milan, including Leonardo da Vinci's work and the Duomo.

Program fees of approximately $3800-$3900 will include all course activities; housing for the period beginning June 24 and ending July 19 2006; all meals during scheduled days (except for days off); and tour transportation. Students will be responsible for air and ground transportation to and from Oira and expenses away from the program.

Ten Day Sessions

A limited number of students and professionals from preservation, landscape architecture and architecture will be admitted as space permits.

Two separate ten day - four credit sessions will be held. The first session runs from June 24 through July 4. The second session runs from July 8 through July 19. The professional sessions will be integrated with the student course work. Professionals will participate in all programmed activities as well as being exposed to architects and preservation practitioners from the area. The approximate program fee of $2200 per session will include course activities, housing, meals during scheduled days (except for days off), and tour transportation. Attendees are responsible for air and ground transportation to and from Oira and expenses away from the program.

Program Facilities

Where students live Student dining hall

The program is centered in a hamlet of approximately twenty houses known as Canova. Much of this part of Oira has been renovated, and, as a result, has become an international center for painting schools, musicians, dancers, and architects. Students will be housed in ancient stone dwellings which have been modernized with kitchens and plumbing. These buildings also include classrooms and meeting spaces, common dining areas, gallery spaces, dance and performance spaces, and laundry facilities.


The student sessions of the field school will take place from June 24 (student arrival) through July 19, 2007 (departure). Programmed activities are from June 25 through July 19, 2007. (Most U.S. flights depart the one day prior to the arrival date)

Four day break July 5 through July 8

The 10 day professional sessions:
Session 1 June 24 through July 5
Session 2 July 8 through July 19


Michael Cockram, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Oregon. He specializes in graphic literacy, field drawing and place recording. He has been traveling to Oira every year since 1997. Professor Cockram is the resident director of the program.

Kingston Heath, Director of the University of Oregon Preservation Program. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and author of The Patina of Place: The Cultural Weathering of a New England Industrial Landscape, which won three national awards.

Ken Marquardt, is President of the Canova Association and has overseen the renovation of numerous stone buildings in the Ossola Valley, including most of the buildings in Canova. He and his wife Kali have established Canova as a center for cultural activities, including painting schools and dance workshops. Mr. Marquardt is the coordinator of the program.

Paolo Volorio, an architect and instructor at the Milan Polytechnic University. He has published numerous writings on the architecture of the Ossola Valley and has overseen the renovation of important structures such as the Villa Silva, which served as a regional historical museum in Domodossola, Italy. Mr. Volorio will lecture and give tours of the architecture of the area.

Paolo Mafricci, master stone mason and builder. Paolo began his training as a young boy and has established himself in the area as a master of regional style of stonework. He has also proven to be an excellent teacher.

Monica Mezzei, a specialist in the painting and preservation of frescos. Ms. Mezzei was trained at the School of Ornamental Art in Rome and will give a demonstration of fresco technique as well as a tour of frescos in the Ossola Valley.

Program Cost for Students:

Program fees will include all course activities; housing for the period beginning June 24 and ending July 20 2007; all meals during scheduled days (except for days off); and tour transportation. Students will be responsible for air and ground transportation to and from Oira and expenses away from the program. Program cost for the full session will be between $3800 and $3900.

Application Information:

Application Deadline: February 15, 2007.

Participants can earn graduate or undergraduate level credits from the University of Oregon. Historic Preservation Program students may use these credits to fulfill the practicum requirement, upon approval by the Director. For further information and application materials contact:

Michael Cockram
Historic Preservation Program
School of Architecture & Allied Arts
5233 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-5233
PH: 541-346-0512 or 541-346-2089
FAX: 541-346-3626

Student Application for the 2007 Italy Field School (.pdf)
Professional Application for the 2007 Italy Field School (.pdf)

Getting to Oira

Oira is a ten minute drive from Domodossola, which is a main stop on the train line connecting Milan to Switzerland and other destinations north. From Milan, its an hour and a half from Milano Centrale train station. Once in Domodossola, students may take a bus to Oira, or be picked up by one of the school's vehicles at scheduled times.

Included below are links to route maps and directions for getting from Malpensa and Linate Airports and from Milano Centrale train station to Domodossola train station and the field school.

Italian Government Tourist Board - North America
ENIT Italian State Tourist Board
Italian Embassy Tips For Travelers
US State Department Consular Information Sheet On Italy