Project Description


The pre-alpine ecology of the Taleggio Valley, Italy, lends itself to the study of natural systems that will serve as the backdrop for a bio-inspired design project. Through the observation of the flora and fauna of the valley, students will translate the learned principles to the design of sustainable building elements. Students will be challenged to understand how the environment has shaped the evolution of organisms as well as the design of human constructions. The final project will be informed by observing the adaptations of organisms in order to draw analogies between natural and designed elements.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: July 1-July 28, 2018
  • Enrollment Status: OPEN
  • Total Cost: $4,600
  • Course Type: Architecture & Design
  • Payment Deadline: April 20, 2018
  • Instructors: Dr. Shauna Price, Ilaria Mazzoleni
  • Orientation:  May 19, 2018, 4:00 PM PST
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The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Dr. Shauna Price
Dr. Shauna PriceDirector
Field Museum of Natural History
Ilaria Mazzoleni
Ilaria Mazzoleni Director
CalArts and Nature & Art Habitat


This is a new IFR field school. There are student testimonials available at this time.

Tuition Includes:

  • Costs of instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credits
  • Room & board
  • All local transportation
  • Health Insurance

Student Fees

A nonrefundable deposit of $500 is required to secure a seat in this program.  This program requires an application (no application fee is requested). Only accepted students should pay the deposit fee. Deposit fee is part of the program Tuition. The remaining tuition, minus the $500 deposit, must be paid prior to the tuition deadline (see above under “Course Details”).

Important Note: If you were accepted to this program but did not cancel your participation by the tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full tuition regardless of attendance in this program. Please read the IFR Cancellation Policy for further clarification.

  • A 2.5% Processing Fee is automatically assessed for all credit/debit card payments
  • A $100 Late Fee will be assessed if full tuition payment is not completed by the deadline.
  • Look at the field school syllabus above for room & board details.


Students will live in a residence in Sottochiesa, a charming village, 15 minutes away from the world famous San Pellegrino Terme. Large, Italian style lunch will be provided daily in the field or at the residence, depending on the activity. Students are responsible for their own breakfast and dinner (apartments have kitchen), and their own food on weekends. Once each week, the Project Director and the entire team will eat dinner together at a local restaurant.

Accommodation is provided in Sottochiesa, Taleggio Valley (Bg), Italy. One or two bedroom apartments with double or triple occupancy rooms will be offered to the students. Each apartment will have a kitchen and bathroom to be shared among the occupants. Shared working studio areas and open-air studio spaces will be provided. Students are expected to consider the studio as the base of their research on site and to spend most of their time outdoors. Indoor large spaces and/or tools studios are limited but available for communal activities.

Students are expected to participate to all programmed activities and to fulfill one relevant objective of this class: namely, the class expects to bring participants into active engagement with each other in addition to the natural environment. Daily collegial interaction with other students is an essential dimension of the experience, and students are expected to discuss their projects, receive, and provide feedback. Students are expected to take advantage of their staying by spending their time in the Valley, experiencing the alpine environment, visiting sites, contacting local people, working with traditional and innovative materials, experimenting with old and new technologies, sharing reflections and contents in workshop sessions, promoting their works in public happenings, and producing the final class project.

Travel Info

Students are encouraged to book flights scheduled to arrive to Milano Malpensa (MXP) by 1pm on Sunday July 1, 2018. Students arriving by air at Milano Malpensa (MXP) will be met at the airport by project staff members. A private bus will collect students and take them to Sottochiesa, the field school location.

If you arrive at a different airport or train station, missed your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email project director immediately. A local emergency cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students. Information regarding how to reach destinations via public transportation will be provided.

Student Safety

Student safety is paramount for the IFR. Unlike many universities who are self-insured, the IFR purchases a range of high end insurance policies from some of the largest insurers in the world. Students in all our international programs have a comprehensive health insurance policy. It covers sickness, and chronic and mental health conditions at 100% of the cost. We have a strong evacuation and extraction policy. We can remove students from any location anywhere in the world with one phone call – whether medical evacuation, political or natural disaster extraction and anything in between. We purchase intelligence services from a global private provider and monitor the world 24/7. We automatically enroll our students to the US State Department STEP program. All of our students receive safety orientations both before and on the first day of each program. Our faculty have all been working in the areas where we operate field schools for years. They are intimately familiar with local customs and traditions, know the landscape well and have deep relationships with local communities.

All our domestic programs are coordinated with local authorities which are informed of our operations. Students in domestic programs are covered by their own health insurance and evacuations are managed by local emergency services, as appropriate.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field (click here for a shortcut). If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with the field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students can contact IFR personnel directly.

Travel does involve risk, but we try to minimize this risk as much as possible. Call us at 877-839-4374 or email us at if you have questions about the safety of particular programs.