The Villard International Traveling Design Seminar is an international academic network, in which, apart from Patras, the architectural schools of Alghero, Ascoli Piceno, Venice, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Paris (Paris Malaquais) participate ), of Pescara, Reggio Calabria and Rome (Roma 3) and the Department of Architects of the School of Engineering of Ancona. Its subject is urban and architectural planning and includes cooperation with cultural institutions (such as the MAXXI of Rome), municipalities and productive bodies.
The seminar accepts 12 students from each participating school. The annual program envisages the elaboration of a design topic of great extent and complexity, which is proposed by municipal administrations or other bodies and is linked to real conditions and needs. The topic is presented at the beginning of the seminar on site and developed through work at the participating schools' headquarters and in regular joint seminars held in selected destinations. The elements of touring, traveling and visiting real places, as well as understanding local social, economic and other conditions, are a basic supporting structure of the seminar and a means of knowledge and production. At each "station" of the tour, with the contribution of the professors of the participating universities and invited guests, in addition to design workshops, a series of lectures, small thematic conferences, guided tours and exhibitions are held. Each "station" lasts 3-4 days. The structure of the seminar allows participating students to come into contact with areas, ensembles, buildings and spaces with very different material and cultural characteristics, and to draw experience and knowledge from teachers and fellow students from other academic environments. Each annual seminar concludes with a final event, which includes a public exhibition, presentation, critique and awarding of the best papers. A list is then published.
The Villard seminar was founded in 1999. The University of Patras participated as an observer in 2004-5 and since then as a regular member. The crisis and the consequent cut of the Department's budget limited the number of participating students. The pandemic limited the operation of the Seminary for 1.5 years. The prolonged lack of funding did not allow the Department to participate in the seminar after 2020. However, Professor G. Panetsos regularly participates in the scientific committee and other tasks of the seminar.
Participation in the Villard International Traveling Design Seminar was the key driver of the Department's international educational involvement. His students won the award or – later, when the awards became three – one of the awards in all but one of the seminar's events, resulting in productive familiarity and boosting their confidence in an international environment. It is no coincidence that most of the participants developed very positively in the academic and/or high-level professional field, while many have successful careers abroad.
Villard is the permanent vehicle for extroversion and international promotion of the Department's work, with the main result being the international distinction and its ranking among the best European schools of Architecture by the relevant evaluation of Domus magazine (only from the wider region of the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean ).
On June 22, 2019, female students of the Department of Architectural Engineering of the University of Patras were distinguished after their participation in the competition of the annual architecture seminar "Villard 20" supervised by Mr. Georgios A. Panetsos. Villard is an International Traveling Seminar on Architecture and Urban Planning, held annually by a network of architecture schools in Italy, France and Greece, including schools in Alghero, Ancona, Ascoli Riceno, Genova, Milano, Napoli, Pescara, Palermo, Paris Malaquais, Patras, Roma, Torino, IUAV Venice, and others. The competition had the theme “Reconstructing through the Waters of Ischia” and the final presentation took place on June 20-21, 2019 on the island of Ischia, Italy.
Specifically, the awards were given:
1st Student Individual Work Award to Sofia Souvatzoglou (out of 95+ entries) for the urban and architectural design proposal "Enrichment of the Historic Area: Miraggio - Mare - Memoria"
3rd Teamwork Award to Sofia Souvatzoglou, Katerina Voukelatou, Vicky Bali, Marina Andrioti (out of a total of 23+ entries from 14 schools) for the urban planning proposal entitled "Enchance and Recreate Ischia"