WORKSHOP 2023 (Eng)

THE PROJECT THEME of the 2023 edition will be: Smart City & Cultural Heritage

CortonaOPen3d is a SmartCityDesign workshop in a Cultural Heritage context that will take place in the exceptional city of Cortona (Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy) from 29th July to 7th August 2022. During the workshop, participants will develop individually or in groups an architectural-design project or an artistic installation inserted in the context of the city of Cortona.

The 2023 edition will be held ONLINE + IN PRESENCE It will be possible to freely follow the workshop completely online, or in presence in Cortona depending on your own situation and that of public health at the time of the workshop. You can write to us at any time for any clarification.

The workshop lasts about 100 hours which are divided, in traditional editions, between lectures, conferences and project workshops and is held in Italian, English and Spanish. A total between 50 and 100 international students participate each year.

The Workshop will be preceded by an ON-LINE BLENDER course (12h) free for all participants

The workshop is international, the languages spoken are Italian, English and Spanish and takes place in collaboration with the Municipality of Cortona; the Politecnico di Milano, the Academies of Fine Arts of Brera (Milan) and Urbino, and the Spanish universities: Universidad de Zaragoza and ESDA, Escuela Superior de Diseno de Aragon

The workshop program to include lectures, conferences and communications and project reviews. The communications will be organized in “Clusters” of approximately four hours each, and will each deal with a different specific topic and will be held by professors, local authorities and experts in digital subjects. In the foreground the development of highly professionalising advanced digital contents such as digital modeling through 3d photo reproduction.

Participants will have to carry out, as every year, a Smart City Design project within the city of Cortona. The projects will be carried out by the students using the open source Blender software. Through digital models, supplied by us, with very high resolution quality and detail, created with the aid of open source photo-modeling tools, it will be possible for participants to experience a new and highly advanced form of digital design.

The primary objective of the Workshop is to teach how to design using the computer as a creative tool and to sensitize the participants to the themes of the project for cultural heritage in fragile urban contexts and therefore TO LEARN TO PROJECT USING THE 3D SOFTWARE IN A CREATIVE AND CONSCIOUS WAY


  • Blender fundamentals during an online course before the workshop (free for workshop attendees)
  • Advanced Blender techniques, practice on the most advanced and innovative techniques of this extraordinary software
  • Photography and 3D digital modeling. Photography, its language and its use in 3D digital modeling techniques
  • Designing for Cultural Heritage To deepen the relationship between contemporary design and Cultural Heritage

How do you learn?

  1. Following the lessons which will deal in depth with the different themes of the workshop with numerous external contributions from architects, artists, local administrators, blenderists, professors and digital technicians.
  2. Designing within a hyperrealistic virtual model of the project area that will be provided by the organization followed by us and by our expert Blender tutors who, throughout the project, will follow you both from the technical and the design point of view.


The virtual model of the project area will be provided by the organization in Blender format, and you will be able to work and design within it. In the various phases of the project you will be guided and supported by us for the more strictly design side and by our super-expert tutors for the more technical part of working with Blender.

By clicking on the images below you can browse some examples of models (made for the web in low quality) you will receive a model similar to these of the project areas, but in higher quality)


recognized with participation in the workshop:

4 CREDITS to the students of Architecture of the Polytechnic of Milan – (it is also possible to validate the credits by inserting the workshop in the study plan of the current or next academic year, however ask for confirmation at your student office)

4 CREDITI for the Urbino Academy of fine Arts (da confermarsi )

2 CREDITS for the Brera Academy of Fine Arts (to be confermed)

4 CREDITS for the Escuela Superior de Diseño de Aragón (to be confermed)

2 CREDITS for the Universidad de Zaragoza (to be confermed)


Upon successful completion of the workshop you will be given a certificate of participation and we will send the list of participants to your institution. This will allow you to request the assignment of training credits with a simple procedure. We recommend that you check with your institution how to apply and your personal situation regarding the assignment of credits. Write us for any doubt or problem, we will gladly help you.


The Workshop will be preceded by an ON-LINE BLENDER course free for all participants, useful for learning or deepening Blender and for obtaining a good knowledge of the software.

The course lasts 12 hours / online / it will be possible to attend the course live or recorded IN ITALIAN AND ENGLISH


The first phase of a 3D project is the creation of a three-dimensional model starting from Euclidean solids, from scratch or from a drawing previously made with Cad software. It is also possible to import and modify objects and architectures acquired from the network. Keywords: Modeling for objects, parametric, from Cad; Import and export of 2d and 3d models

Materials and textures

Materials (Shaders) must be applied to the three-dimensional model, which can be very simple or extremely sophisticated. It is possible to create the material from scratch, or to import it from one of the numerous libraries freely available on the net. Keywords: materials; procedural and image textures; Image mapping and unwrapping


In a 3d scene light sources must be inserted. These are positioned reasoning as in a photographic studio, obtaining good lighting requires some care but allows excellent results. Keywords: Color and Light; Indoor and outdoor lighting. Issuing materials; unbiased rendering with Cycle

Photography and photo shooting

The choice of camera positioning allows you to tell the project in the best way. The “photographer’s glance” depends on talent and experience, but also on some rules and techniques that also apply to the creation of a render. Keywords: virtual cameras, depth of field, photographic composition.


Communications will be a fundamental part of the workshop, providing the technical and cultural knowledge necessary for the realization of a concrete project, with attention to detail and capable of consistently enriching the participants’ portfolio both as regards graphic communication and the contents of the project. They will be organized according to different themes and taught by university professors, local authorities and experts in digital subjects.

  • Cortona: inside the city walls _ Stories, stories and analyzes of the city of Cortona, its cultural heritage, business realities and its territorial context.
  • Designing for Culture _ Innovative design, art and architecture projects in the contexts of Cultural Heritage
  • Is it buid? The image in the digital age _ New communication trends of the project through photography and rendering
  • Advanced digital tools Software and hardware for digital design, theory and practice.


Participants will participate in an artistic or architectural design competition in which they will have to carry out a Smart City Design project within the city of Cortona.

The projects will be carried out individually or in groups, led by teachers and tutors expert in design, planning, art history and software. SI will work using the open source Blender software within a very high resolution, quality and detail digital model, created with the aid of photo-modeling tools, also open source, provided by the organization.

As every year, the projects presented and developed during the competition will be evaluated by two different juries. The first will be composed of the participants of the workshop who will vote, the best project among those made by the classmates. The second one will be composed of university professors, members of the municipal administration of Cortona and prominent personalities chosen by the organization of the workshop and by the municipal administration.

The project will be a work of design, art or architecture and will be illustrated to the juries with a series of rendered images created using Blender software. The two juries will evaluate the quality of the projects, the beauty of the images and their consistency with the premises of the workshop, assigning the symbolic prizes to be won and decreeing the winner to “future glory”.


There is no “participation fee” but all participants in the workshop will be asked a “contribution” to the cost of teaching materials and to join the 18Architetture cultural association

THE CONTRIBUTION FOR THE 2023 EDITION WILL BE 240 EUROS Overall unchanged compared to 2022, and made up of 235 Euros for teaching materials and 5 Euros for membership in the Cultural Association. The contribution is the same for both those who participate online and those who participate in presence.

We are proud of the fact that the workshop does not receive any type of funding and has been supported, for more than ten years, exclusively with the fees paid by the participants. Your support allows us to be free and to teach only what we truly believe.


You can freely choose whether to participate in the Workshop in ONLINE or IN PRESENCE mode

All the workshop activities will be accessible through the Web. The online activities are 100% certain – The face-to-face activities will be organized based on the current health situation at the time of the Workshop. (Write to us for any clarification that may interest you)

If you participate in the Workshop you will be able to:

  • Attend the ONLINE BLENDER COURSE that will precede the workshop. The course is not mandatory if you already know the program, and is designed to obtain adequate knowledge of Blender to successfully participate in the workshop.
  • Attend conferences ON-LINE or IN PRESENCE
  • Participate in the project workshop alone or in a group, with project reviews and Blender tutoring. You will carry out the project using the extraordinary hyper-realistic models of the project areas provided by us, created through photogrammetric three-dimensional modeling.
  • Present your work to the expert and participant juries and be evaluated among the best projects of the Workshop
  • Furthermore, if you decide to participate in presence, you will be able to create yourself, with our help, the 3D models through photogrammetric scanning within which to carry out your project and, of course, experience and get to know the city of Cortona, visit the project areas in person.

Note: Internet connection is required and at the expense and responsibility of the participants whether they are online or in person.

To participate in the Workshop you must:

Step 1 Fill in the REGISTRATION FORM for the workshop (you can also find the link in the main menu). We will then send you to the email that you have indicated to us the instructions necessary to complete the payments, which can be made by bank transfer or Paypal

Step 2 Pay the fee for the cultural association and for the educational materials. Registration allows you to participate in all the initiatives of the association for the year 2023 and above all, free of charge, in the 12-hour online Blender course preparatory to the workshop and also valid as a fee for the creation of the 3D models that will be provided to you and within which you will develop your project. It allows us to hold the workshop, without us benefiting from any other form of financing. For more than ten years now we have been carrying out the workshop only thanks to the support of the participants.

Step 3 Participate

ONLINE If you participate online, you simply need to make sure you have an internet connection available for the duration of the workshop. All activities will be completely available and the workshop will also be usable for those who work remotely. It will be inspiring to design with colleagues located, literally, on the other side of the world.

IN PRESENCE In case of participation in presence you will have to organize the trip and your stay in Cortona. Travel, accommodation, insurance and internet connection expenses are the responsibility of the participants. Participants “in presence” will be able to work in their accommodation and\or in the classrooms made available and\or in the courtyards and open spaces. This obviously depends on the health situation in place at the time of the workshop. The organization, although it cannot organize or be responsible for the travel and accommodation of the participants, will in any case provide all the necessary suggestions, advice and logistical support and will always be present and supportive for any eventuality.


Travel insurance is strongly recommended!

To participate in presence: internet connection, travel, food and accommodation and medical insurance are at the expense and responsibility of the participants. Through the most famous sites (Booking; Trivago; Air B&B) participants can choose a Hotel or B&B in Cortona in one of the countless solutions offered by the city. However, Cortona is a tourist city so it is STRONGLY recommended to book in time and with the possibility of cancellation in case of health emergencies. Any accommodation within the city walls or in its immediate vicinity allows you to easily reach the places where the Workshop takes place. It is also possible to stay overnight in the surroundings of Cortona and go back and forth every day from Cortona by car or public transport. It’s not easy but still doable.

The organization, although it cannot organize or be responsible for the travel and accommodation of the participants, will in any case provide all the necessary suggestions, advice and logistical support and will always be present and supportive for any eventuality.

TRAVELING BY CAR – Cortona can be reached by car (A1 motorway, Valdichiana exit) in about four hours from Milan. The car can then be left parked quietly throughout the workshop in one of the free parking spaces outside the walls. In Cortona you get around on foot and it’s beautiful.

TRAVEL BY TRAIN – There are direct trains from Milan to Terontola-Cortona. You can also travel to Florence or Arezzo and then a regional train to Camucia-Cortona station (closer) or Terontola-Cortona (with more connections). Once there you can then take a bus (or a shuttle or a taxi) which takes you to Cortona in about 15 minutes. It is advisable to book the train in advance to take advantage of the lower fares, by booking in time you can find tickets for 19 euros from Milan.

TRAVEL BY PLANE The closest airport is Perugia, from here Cortona can be reached by Taxi, regional train or Bus.

Write to us for any information or clarification, we will gladly answer you.


One could say that the Smart-city is (as for the Smart-phone) a city with “more things inside”. Smart-city means a city that exchanges information between citizens, administration and economic fabric quickly and efficiently.

The fact that it is a simple concept does not help us answer the question of what a “SmartCity” should be, because it is not yet clear what the possibilities (and dangers) of “smart” cities are. In fact, we can say that the objects we live with are increasingly “intelligent”, but their intelligence is not always useful because it does not transform into quality of life and quality of things. So a design system is needed, we call it SmartCityDesign, which transforms “the city object” into something more “useful and beautiful”.

Using the intelligence of objects to think of better cities is therefore the project theme of the CortonaOPen3D Workshop. Objects become intelligent, telephones and the city become “intelligent” and design and art can no longer reasonably avoid the theme of “being connected”. It is essential to know how to design “from the spoon to the city” understanding that today whoever projects a house, a museum, a chair, a poster or whatever “thing” cannot avoid posing the problem of “if” and “how” to interact with technologies.

Above all, it is important to intelligently rethink the context and relationship between technology and the world of cultural heritage in fragile contexts, exploiting the possibilities offered by connection technology in an innovative and coherent way and finding intervention methods that make the centers controllable the distortions that technological innovations inevitably cause are decisive. (the example of depopulation of historic centers caused by the spread of applications for short-term rentals applies to everyone)

Smart City is also Slow Mobility, it means paying attention to what is probably the greatest revolution taking place in contemporary society, we refer to the electric means of locomotion which are having a development similar to that experienced by smartphones in the last ten years

But what is the cause of this, which we can well call revolution? The electric motor has existed for well over a century, and is basically always the same. The batteries become more and more performance, but they are always the “bottleneck” of the system and although they have improved in terms of duration and power they have not evolved in a radical way.

The sensors and electronics, on the other hand, have “exploded”, in fact the real TECHNOLOGICAL PARADIGM JUMP that allows you to create means of locomotion so far impossible. (scooters, bikes, self-propelled seats, etc.) is represented by the technology developed to provide smartphones with sensors such as compasses, gyroscopes, tiny accelerometers and with increasingly reduced energy consumption. All accompanied by increasingly powerful and less energy-hungry processors and at very low costs thanks to the huge diffusion of these devices.

We are going to witness, in short, a change of perspective in the way of moving that will have consequences on our way of life quite similar to those that have been brought about by the diffusion of smartphones. But this will not only affect car sellers, it will affect our way of experiencing the city and our social relationships. Remember Mc Luhan? “The media is the message”. The tool carries with it a meaning which is the first engine of social relations.

In the particular case of the city of Cortona we are faced with a case study of particular interest. The city is the ideal playground for experimenting with new types of mobility solutions. It is pedestrian, but with access to cars. It is tourist but with a real life that still resists, albeit with difficulty, the tourist pressure. It is very complicated and steep, beautiful but difficult to travel and this difficulty owes a good part of its charm.

You will be able to identify and choose among the critical issues of the city those that are in your opinion the most interesting and stimulating and develop on them an architectural, design or artistic installation project that can, in your opinion, contribute to improving the quality of life in Cortona.

The problems are typical of small towns with a high “Cultural Heritage” content in central Italy. How can a community live together with the pressures that tourism imposes? The wealth not only economic, but also human and cultural that tourism brings to historical places is the result of a search for beauty and a sense of life. This research is sometimes naive, sometimes silly, sometimes harmful and destroys the social and cultural fabric and leaving social and economic rubble. For this reason it must be managed, imagined, designed. It must not be rejected or left to itself and its excesses.

It is up to you to choose what to plan in the project area that will be indicated to you in agreement with the Municipality of Cortona. You can work on the territorial scale, on the architectural scale or you can imagine artistic interventions, performances or installations according to your sensitivity and inclination.

This is what we try to do with our Workshop: helping designers and communities to get in touch and design objects, spaces, relationships … in other words DESIGNING AS AN INSTRUMENT FOR CIVIL CULTURE


The workshop will be held from Friday 28 July – Sunday 6 August 2023 The program includes communications, lessons, conferences and project reviews. The total duration of the workshop is 100 hours plus 12 hours for the Blender course preceding the workshop


(dates and times may vary slightly)

Friday 7 July 2023 \ 09:00 – 13:00

Friday 14 July 2023 \ 09:00 – 13:00

Friday 21 July 2023 \ 09:00 – 13:00

The course will be held in Italian and English (using Blender in English as always) and will be available both in live streaming (we will use Zoom) and later by recording. The connection link will be sent by email the day before the lesson


Friday 28 July 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Kick off Event – Conferences

14.00 – 20.00 Conferences

Saturday 29 July 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Presentations; “House’s rules” – Virtual Tour – visit (virtual or real) of the city and the project area

14.00 – 20.00 Start of the Project Workshop: presentation of the digital models and exhibition of the working methods. Formation of groups

Sunday 30 July 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Project Workshop with Blender \ Software lessons

14.00 – 18.00 Project Workshop with Blender

Monday 31 July 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Project Workshop with Blender \ Software lessons

14.00 – 18.00 Project Workshop with Blender

18.00 – 20.00 Personal work

Tuesday 1 August 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Project Workshop with Blender \ Software lessons

14.00 – 18.00 Project Workshop with Blender

18.00 – 20.00 Personal work

Wednesday 2 August 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Project Workshop with Blender \ Software lessons

14.00 – 18.00 Project Workshop with Blender

18.00 – 20.00 Personal work

Thursday 3 August 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Project Workshop with Blender

14.00 – 18.00 Project Workshop with Blender

18.00 – 20.00 Personal work

Friday 4 August 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Project Workshop with Blender

14.00 – 18.00 Project Workshop with Blender

18.00 – 20.00 Personal work

Saturday 5 August 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Project Workshop with Blender

14.00 – 18.00 Project Workshop with Blender

18.00 – 20.00 Delivery of the final papers in PDF format

Sunday 6 August 2023

09.00 – 13.00 Presentation of the projects, evaluation by the jury of experts and the jury of the participants and Awarding of the winning projects

14.00 – 20.00 Discussion of the projects with the jury, tutors and professors


Workshop 2023 Info (Ita)

Workshop 2023 Info (Eng)

Workshop 2023 Info (Esp)


Iscrizione – Registration – Inscripcion

COrtonaOPen3D on Instagram

COrtonaOPen3D on Facebook

Blender Foundation Website

Immagini – Image – Imagenes