03-06 JUNE 2014
Welcome Speech in Paraninfo Building, Universidad de Zaragoxa, 3.06.2014Javier Monclús, Dean of the Department of Architecture
Welcome and sincere thanks to everybody for coming. In particular, thanks to Regina Lázaro, Vice-chancellor of International Relations; to Prof. José Neira, Coordinator of International Relations; to Prof. Maria G. Folli, Coordinator for the SEHUD Project; to Prof. Tatiana Sergeyeva, Coordinator for the UA Partners. And of course, thanks to all the participants in the SEHUD project who have come to Zaragoza to participate in this meeting, the third one since the kick-off meeting in Milan in December 2012.
We are happy to receive you in Zaragoza and to host this meeting. And we wish to remind you that we have big challenges ahead because our Tempus Project is a complex and ambitious one.
As we all know, the Tempus program is the instrument of the European Union for the development and modernization of the university teaching systems in different countries with the aim of creating bases of cooperation among EU countries. Of course, the first challenge is to coordinate 7 European universities as well as 5 from Ukraine. This unified effort is the responsibility of the Politecnico di Milano, in collaboration with colleagues from Kharkiv National University for Civil Engineering and Architecture, the coordinating institution for the Ukrainian universities. The second challenge should be that of bringing greater consistency to all the materials that we have developed so far. This is one of the reasons for this meeting, as it is dedicated to defining a common methodology and to checking the development of the Course units conceived by EU and UA partners.
I have to confess that this has been one of the most interesting – and at the same time complex – international projects I have ever participated in. Since the kick-off meeting in Milan, we have been working and consulting with a large team in the effort to develop the Project according to the rules of SEHUD. This acronym, which represents “Architecture and Sustainable Urban Development Based on Eco-Humanistic Principles & Advanced Technologies without Losing Identity”, expresses the ambitious concept of consolidating didactic materials from a very wide field of knowledge and teaching.
This past February in Lyon, a second meeting was held. At that time we were anxious about the political situation in Ukraine. It was exactly that week when the situation exploded in Kiev, and we were all stunned. As a gesture of solidarity, Prof. Nora Lombardini composed and publicly read a statement in support of our Ukrainian partners. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate that the work we all do at the university embraces our mutual interests and is not impeded by political, social and economic problems.
We remember the session when we received the visit of José Gutiérrez, who continues as Deputy Head of Unit, ERASMUS Mundus & External Cooperation of the EACEA, and who has recently become involved in the Tempus projects. He expressed his support for these projects and his availability to answer any questions about issues that might need clarification. His presence at our meeting and the confidence he showed in our ability to surmount the difficulties engendered by such a complex project were highly inspiring for all the working teams.
Mr Gutiérrez offered an insight from a different prespective to that of the Architecture and Urbanism fields. He said we should be aware that the difficulties of the project are not only logistic, but also arise from the fact that different traditions, from humanistic to very technical, coexist within Architecture and Urbanism. There is not only a “cultural urbanism” but also a technical reality.
Of course, we should include some additional categories. Even though Urbanism and Planning have been part of international culture since the beginning of the Twentieth Century, there are recognizably different “national traditions” from the North and the South, from the West and the East. There exist, therefore, a variety of approaches and viewpoints. “Common Ground” was the title that David Chipperfield chose for the Biennale 2012 in Venice. To find common ground that allows us to share working materials and teaching methods and possible collaborative research in the future is for us the main challenge of this project.
At the beginning of May, Professor Carmen Díez and I went to Kiev and Lviv to meet our partners. In spite of the delicate political situation – just at that moment Ukraine was in the middle of some turbulent episodes which led to the cancellation of our meeting in Odessa – we decided not to cancel our trip. We must say that we had memorable experiences in both cities, where we met for the first time with some of our colleagues and partners in the project, and we were received with extraordinary hospitality by everyone. We have seen directly what Ukrainian universities are like, how teachers work with the students, and what their main concerns are.
That visit to Ukraine has enabled us not only to understand how to better help our partners through sharing working materials with them, but also how to focus the organization of this meeting. Thus we recognize more clearly the importance of making optimal use of our time here: to show the work we have done in our school and to compile materials and approaches, so that Ukrainian universities are able to adapt them – as the Program says – “without losing identity”.
I would very much like to thank all the POLIMI team, especially Prof. Maria Grazia Folli, for the academic coordination and economic management of the Project, and also Prof. Tatiana Sergeyeva for her ongoing and effective commitment to the project and for the coordination of the UA universities.
And now I give the floor to Prof. Maria Grazia Folli. Thank you very much, Maria Grazia, for accompanying us in this welcome presentation. (...)
Report by Javier Monclús and Carmen Díez
Saragossa from the Water Tower
We are so grateful for you participation in our recent meeting in Saragossa. We have been very pleased to find that the content of our meetings is becoming more consistent and unified and that we are finding the means to work together cooperatively. We thank you especially Prof. Maria Grazia Folli for stressing the importance of keeping firmly in mind the main objective of the Program: to share knowledge and teaching resources.
One important aspect has been the identification of the particular strengths of the various participants. This step is truly helpful in the development of successful exchange of knowledge and methodologies. In this respect Prof. Tatiana Sergeyeva has made a key contribution to coordinate Ukraininan and European universities.
We think all of us will remember the contributions of Prof. Sebastian McMillan and Prof. Nora Lombardini via Skype. Now we have seen how effective this medium is and we are certain that it will aid us in maintaining a mutually beneficial flow of ideas. Additionally this medium assures us that if anyone is unable to attend a meeting, they can still interact by remote.
Besides that, we believe that the combination of theoretical presentations and on-site visits has been particularly effective to show how we work both within and outside the University of Saragossa.
Some of the highlights of our meeting took place in our school, such as the presentations offered by some of our students about the competition in which they are taking part. Here you have some photos.
Other highlights took place during our excursions to Expo area, Ebro Riverside, Aljafería and the Water Tower with the architect of the project Enrique de Teresa. Here are some photos of those excursions.
During our free time we were able to enjoy a special treat: a sampling of “tapas”. A happy coincidence was that a “tapas competition” was taking place at the time of our meeting.
We are especially pleased about the visit of our Ukraininan guests to the Caixa Forum. This visit was a nice way to say good bye to the last participants.
We wish you all a good summer whether that includes work or travel or planning for our next meeting.
Javier Monclús and Carmen Díez