Ever since its inception within the Università della Svizzera italiana, the Academy of Architecture has energetically and continuously pursued and fostered the culture of the project, namely the mastery of the process that, through the requisite knowledge, praxis and technology, generates the creative act: from intuition to achievement. On this cornerstone, and with the aim of responding to the demands of contemporary culture, rests its teaching, which qualifies and differentiates it in Switzerland and throughout Europe.
In our daily work – in the lecture rooms, studio sessions, research institutes and the many cultural activities we present to the public – our school, more than twenty years since its foundation, has proved capable of raising issues which, moving from the narrowly disciplinary skills, then open out to the social, philosophical and political scenarios in which architecture operates. The mental openness that we seek to develop in this way in our students, the critical ability and creative approach never dissociated from rational thought, form the true path, repeatedly explored and confirmed over time, for training future architects in the complexity of design practice. The Modern Masters succeeded in doing this in times no less troubled than our own, so remaining a model, an enduring point of reference and a morally binding example.
The Academy was founded and is deeply rooted in Ticino, a canton that acts as a bridge between the cultures of North and South: a geographic, linguistic and cultural condition that is extraordinarily favourable to practising and producing quality in the globalized world. In this respect, cosmopolitanism, another feature of our school, remains one of our indispensable values, reiterated every year in the increasingly variegated choice of faculty as in the reception we reserve for students from around the world.
This year, the Academy is about to inaugurate a new building, named the Theatre of Architecture. The project, designed – at the precise request of the teaching faculty – by Mario Botta, who then made a gift of it, has a structure based on the layout of the early anatomical theatres: a square central space rising to full height, set in a large circular volume of stone and concrete with a spectacular curtain roof.
The theatre is a place of representation, deconstruction and reproduction of a world that generally belongs to experience, staged with the instruments of narrative, speech and movement, music and scenographic spaces, namely a set of tools designed specifically to be representative in conditions other than reality. Through this technique, human culture has been transformed into an invention, perhaps even into architecture.
The design of this space is ancient (or youthful?), rather like our Academy, conceived by its founders together with the Foundation that promotes and supports it, and finally adopted and realised by the Università della Svizzera italiana.
Today the Theatre is there, almost ready for its preliminary trials. In the second semester of this year, it will be fully functioning, and will put us to the test to discover how far we will succeed in exploiting its potential, the wonder of an imaginative place, captivating yet rigorous. Through exhibitions, installations, conferences and events, the school’s activity will be probed as if by sonar.
We are excited and happy about this new architecture, its design and its potential. Architecture for the architects of the world of the future. With its stimulus, I am confident that the school will penetrate even more fully into our lives as restless designers. All the rest will automatically be generated by the breadth of the waves it creates.
It is with the enthusiasm that accompanies every new beginning that I inaugurate my deanship. Together I wish you all a year of fulfilling experiences and impassioned work inspired by the most profitable and joyful collaboration.
- Riccardo Blumer