We shape our landscapes and our landscapes shape us

A muu-baa workshop held at Frötscherhof, Brixen/St. Andrä, Südtirol on Saturday, 17 November 2018.

This workshop was attended by 22 participants including farmers, representatives from the tourism industry, LAG advisors, architects, a food network entrepreneur, a baker and university researchers from the Faculty of Design & Art, unibz. The key aim of this six-hour workshop was to explore different perspectives, generate ideas and concepts for new projects, and map the key actors and stakeholders in South Tyrol that directly or indirectly influence landscape.

Report is here Reflections on EXPLORATIONS 02 Land(wirt)schaft AFL v1.0 280119.


The facilitator Professor Alastair Fuad-Luke, Faculty of Design & Art, unibz was assisted throughout the workshop by two translators Lena Voegele and Martina Dandolo, both from Merano, the former a current student and the latter an alumni student of the Masters in Eco-Social Design at unibz. Support was also provided by Erica Boito, a freelance researcher, and Elizabeth Rattalino, a researcher at the Faculty.

The event was hosted by Anna and Sep Jocher at Frötscherhof. Local food and drink was supplied by chef, Christiane Gruber.

Warm-up/speed dating. After a welcoming warm drink and cake, the participants wrote salient facts about themselves on a piece of cloth which they then wore in a style that they preferred as a sash, waistband and so on. The cloth texts facilitated conversations between the participants as they circulated to meet as many people as possible.


PART 1: Plural Perspectives

Five people presented their viewpoints about landscape, its resources and products, potential for experimentation, small-scale architectural works with and for farmers, and how art represents landscape past and present.

Alastair Fuad-Luke (AFL), Professor of Design Research, Faculty of Design & Art, unibz, Bozen-Bolzano

Introduced the start-up research project What Could A Farm Be?, funded internally by the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, and the formation of the muu-baa – an agri-cultural network of explorations in October 2018. Several examples of the farm as a factory for non-food products using natural fibres were presented. Participants were reminded of the importance of scale and zooming in/out (using Charles and Ray Eames‘ inspirational video, The Power of Ten, 1972) using examples from the South Tyrolean landscape. We should not forget other living things that contribute at the scales of centimetres, millimetres and microns. A consequence of different activities at different scales is many “voices” for Landscape and a dynamic landscape formed by different “agents”.

Stephan Jocher, De Gustibus

The audience heard about a case study about a network, De Gustibus, in Tuscany whose focus was on tourism and tourists’ education/awareness. The basic premise is to put together tourists, farmers and citizens in new ways e.g. through organizing wine and food tours, activities on the farm etc. There are no new products, but new interactions/experiences. This is where added value is created in the experience and cultural exchange.

Lukas Rungger, co-founder, NOA* — Network of Architects

NOA* has studios Berlin and Bozen. Lukas expressed his interest in connecting things that usually are not together, looking for potential areas for experimentation. He gave a detailed visual overview of a visionary concept, COWSHED, for utilizing methane produced by cows to create inflatable structures that offer many possibilities for other creative activities. Membranes, set a scenario/stage in the landscape. Gas from the cows fills the membranes. This system can be implemented in small scale (for example: 1 cow, 1 membrane, 1 small stage, 1 actor). Another concept called SOLAR CHIMNEY brought together plants, sunlight and lightweight spiral building structures for creating novel experiences and multi-use spaces. To implement this vision, we need professionals from different disciplines working together on different levels.

Paul Dortmann, architect and farmer

The architect Paul Dortmann presented his intimate way of working on local scale, blending his experience as an architect and as a farmer. He deals with individual needs of farmers, not focused on big scale/changes.

Starting from a individual scale, there’s the need to generate a general vision. His work focusing on individual and personalised solutions, contrasts with the market push for “growing” and getting bigger. In his experience the focus is not on a step-up transformation but staying small. Focus on small roads versus giant highways. This itself represents a radical perspective in South Tyrol.

Dr. Elisabetta Ratalino, Researcher, Faculty of Design & Art, unibz, Bozen-Bolzano

Suggestioni sul paesaggio. Nella Storia dell’Arte. History of art can be conceived as collective memory. The landscape has been and is depicted by artists in quite different ways:. 1. As something external from the human being. 2. As a gaze, as an experience of a subject. 3. As something that artists operate in/on the landscape. This new approach, originating in the 1960’s, shifted the artist from representation to action and creation. How the landscape is “seen” affects our perceptions and interactions with the landscape.


PART 2: Generating ideas; turning ideas into concepts

Working in four small groups, the participants fed their views and those of the presenters into a brainstorming of potential ideas to challenge how we see and act in and upon the landscape in South Tyrol. Each group gave a short presentation of their discussion and key ideas.

Later in the afternoon, after the MLP exercise to map actors and stakeholders affects on the the South Tyrol landscape (see below) the participants returned to their original groups to try and turn the ideas into firmer, more explicit, concepts

Group 1 Sustainable Tourism – IDEA

Group 1 Sustainable Tourism – CONCEPT

Group 2 Biological Landscape/Quality Milk – IDEA

Group 2 Biological Landscape/Quality Milk – CONCEPT

Group 3 Co-existence for regeneration of the countryside – IDEA

Group 3 Co-existence for regeneration of the countryside – CONCEPT

Group 4 How to bring awareness of sustainability to farmers – IDEA

Group 4 How to bring awareness of sustainability to farmers – CONCEPT


PART 3: Collaboratively mapping the key actors and stakeholders in the South Tyrol landscape: Adopting a Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) framework

After a delicious lunch, washed down with the amazing Rubus red organic wine from South Tyrol, everyone stepped outside into the sunshine to work outside on a collective mapping of the key actors and stakeholders who directly or indirectly affect the landscape of South Tyrol. The facilitator (AFL) with the help of translators Lena Voegele and Martina Dandolo described the framework of the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) generated by Geels (2002) and Geels and Schot (2007) as a means to describe how niche innovations, the socio-technical regime and socio-technological landscape (the exogenous context) influence how systems change and new socio-technical transitions towards sustainability are enabled. These three layers correspond to micro, meso and macro levels where key actors and stakeholders influence how the status quo is maintained or begins to shift to new configurations.

The Multi-Level Perspective framework developed by Geels (2002) and Geels & Schot (2007)

Step 1. Participants were asked to place post-its with the names of organisations, big companies, enterprises (commercial, social) or individuals on to the appropriate level, macro, meso or micro.

Step 2. Participants were asked to draw on a post-it the element or elements in the landscape that the organisations, big companies, enterprises or individuals had a direct effect. They were asked to draw a line linking the actor with the effect.

Participants generating the MLP diagram for South Tyrol

Macro-level organisations and actors– original MLP generated in the workshop

Meso-level organisations and actors – original MLP generated in the workshop

Micro-level of organisations and actors – original MLP generated in the workshop

Throughout the activity much discussion took place with participants unsure where to place some actors, what constituted “an affect” on the landscape and whether some actors affected across more than one level. Nonetheless, the participants succeeded in generating tens of different actors and identified different landscape elements affected by the actors.

On concluding the exercise, the facilitator asked participants for their views. Several noted that this is the first time they have seen all the actors represented in the “bigger picture” giving a better overview of the dynamics at play and the scale at which some actors operate. There was a consensus that the “culture of laws” impacted strongly on the landscape that is created. At the micro-level producers either reinforced the status-quo of the socio-technical regime or resisted it. In the latter case many of the micro-level actors identified were creating different cycles of production and consumption by introducing new (or old) varieties of plants and animals and working with chefs to create new tastes for locals and tourists alike.


Further analysis of the MLP diagram

At the meeting of the 7th Focus Group on 10th January 2019, it was agreed that AFL would liase with MD and ER to analyse and develop a graphical system to better communicate the outputs from this participatory exercise. Here is the preliminary analysis of the MLP diagram, grouping similar actors together to try to understand if there were types of actors and if certain actors worked on different scales in the landscape and/or had a bigger impact on specific landscape elements.

MACRO LEVEL – the socio-technical landscape

Many actors here exert a global or regional geo-political influence on agricultural markets and modes of production and consumption.

  • Leading global food brands e.g. McDonalds
  • Distribution and retailing chains e.g. Leading supermarket brands
  • Global agricultural services and supplier industries e.g. Monsanto/Bayer
  • Individual nations e.g. China

Key regulatory and law-making actors were also identified e.g. the European Union, the United Nations

Consumers worldwide were also seen as a key influence on the socio-technical landscape.

A last category was identified, which we could call the environment or nature – Other living beings (insects, animals) and climate, specifically climate change. The agency of these factors is often ignored in a typical MLP analysis!

MESO LEVEL – the socio-technical regime

The perception here by the participants was that this level was really represented at the regional, provincial and territorial scale. The key area that the actor exerts influence (Markets, user preferences; Industry; Science; Policy; Culture; Technology) is indicated in brackets.

  • Provincial public authorities e.g. for farming, for planning, local municipalities (Markets,user preferences; Industry; Science; Policy; Culture; Technology)
  • Provincial associations and cooperatives e.g. for farming – Südtiroler Bauernbund, Bioland (Markets, user preferences; Industry; Policy; Technology)
  • Food sectors e.g. the dairy industry, the corn industry (Markets, user preferences; Industry; Science; Policy; Technology)
  • Non-food sectors e.g. the hotel industry, the machine producers, the advisory/consultancy industry (Markets, user preferences; Industry; Science; Policy; Technology)
  • Educational institutions e.g. the agriculture colleges (Industry; Science;)
  • Consumers (Markets, user preferences; Culture)

MICRO LEVEL – niche innovations

Most actors here focused on a local scale of production or consumption. Producers focus on local markets, user preferences; Industry; Policy; Culture).

  • Individual bio-food producers
  • Food producer-consumer chains included several bio-production examples e.g. Bio-boxes, Farmers’ markets, Bio-regional consumers
  • Consumers (as a general category of actors)
  • Food bloggers
  • New networks e.g. muu-baa
  • Tourism industry e.g. hotels, tourists, hikers

Where or on what elements did these actors have an affect in/on the landscape?

This exercise proved more difficult for the participants. Nonetheless, some clear links were evidenced between some actors and their affect on the landscape. These affects can be summarized for the three levels:


Multi-Level Perspective Organisations, entrerprises, individual actors Affect on landscape element(s)















Air BnB

Paragraph Laws of UE impacts landscape


Pesticide damage to the environment and to natural food chains


Loss of forests


Types of food grown – market/consumer demand


Global tourist travel


MESO Consumers





Province planning and farming authorities; municipalities


Machinery manufacturers


Dairy industry



Types of food grown – plants and animals


Types of korn grown


Paragraph Laws of UE impacts landscape


Intensification of growing systems


Land management for cows and dairy products


MICRO Bio-farmers with bio-chefs








Household gardens


Hotels and other accommodation

Different types of food grown and new tasty meals produced for consumers and tourists


Specific varieties of korn grown with different visual and bio-affects on the landscape


Flowers and vegetables


Tourists and tourist facilities


Potential to develop the MLP system as a tool for change

The MLP system may provide a useful tool to help develop concepts into new realities by enabling people to identify potential collaborators, to see barriers or parts of the system that prevent change and so on. Researchers at unibz will iterate on the design of a graphical system to represent the MLP that can be used as a tool.

MLP typical pathways from Geels and Schot, 2007.

In terms of type of transition pathways – Geels and Schot (2007) identified three types: transformation, technical substitution and de-/re-alignment – it appears that the bio-producers and consumers in the micro-level in South Tyrol are adopting a de-alignment and re-alignment strategy with bottom-up initiatives. The macro-level socio-technical landscape and meso-level socio-technical regime are yet to implement initiatives that substantially challenge the modus operandi. This suggests further work is required to understand how change can be triggered in the macro- and meso- levels, and how acceleration of bio-farming practices can be achieved at the micro-level. This represents an interesting challenge for the muu-baa network.


Geels, F.W. (2002). Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study. Research Policy 31, 8/9, 1257-1274.

Geels, F.W. and Schot, J. (2007). Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways. Research Policy 36, 399-417.