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THE LANDSCAPE IS A BLANKET OF COMFORT THAT HAS BEEN ABANDONED BY PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT

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OPINION - WILL ALSOP

Time in Motovun. Get up and have breakfast with strange coffee that seems to work. It drags you back into a world that the previous night you thought you had left.

The way that this remote hill town in Istria, Croatia, takes you away from the world we think we have some understanding of, makes it the perfect venue for a workshop for architecture students at the very beginning of the new academic year.

The village of Motovun itself is perched on a hill high above a valley. From this vantage point, the hill towns around can be observed from a safe distance, which seems to reinforce the insularity of the situation.

This is the fourth year of the event, where students from Vienna, Zagreb and Leuven meet to think, work and present their ideas for possible futures for this area of hill towns.

The project is always the same. The universities, plus a varying guest or two, do not change. The shape of the day is equally invariable. Breakfast - lunch - supper - evening entertainment in the form of talks from our guests - sleep.

This diurnal monotony is the basis of a sense of security that contains the soul in a manner that allows the imagination to flow. The surrounding landscape is itself a blanket of comfort that has been abandoned by progressive development. This, in itself, allows new perceptions to form against a soundtrack of Auld Lang Syne; the shock of the new is absorbed by the greenness of my valley.

And yet scratches of modernity overlay themselves on this virgin arcadia. A canal - not a river, a newly tarmaced road - not a dirt track. These hints of the new are sufficient to stimulate thoughts of modernity into the minds of all those assembled here.

A minimally changed landscape; a clearly defined shape to the day and an expectation of discovering something we do not know are the essential ingredients of invention and architecture.

This annual event, that has developed its own form through tradition it has built up over the years, exhibits the basic needs for the mothers of invention (including Frank Zappa) whose structures release the faith in the wayward dream that appears to frighten the anal and (the) false ideologies of those who architecturally control London. They do not serve the Londoner well.

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