The Campus of the Academy of Architecture
The Academy of Architecture is located in various administrative, educational, research, study and service buildings in the centre of the small town of Mendrisio, most of them laid out around a very fine urban park. This arrangement makes the school similar to certain prestigious university campuses that we find above all in small English cities or the United States.
The Academy’s location in a setting close to yet outside the metropolitan areas facilitates student life, while the young people have easy access to the nearby cities. The various buildings on the Mendrisio campus are laid out around the park, Villa Argentina (with the faculty board and offices), Palazzo Canavée and Palazzo Turconi (teaching facilities) and the Library. Nearby are the Archivio del Moderno, a foundation that extends the school’s work in historical studies, and the Student Residence. The residence accommodates over 70 students in studio apartments, while the town of Mendrisio and the environs offer connected rental accommodation with good connections at far more accessible prices than in the metropolitan areas. The Academy has its own office to help students find accommodation.
Built in 1872 by the architect Antonio Croci, the Villa houses the Dean Office, the Administration, the School Office, offices and logistics facilities. It also houses the offices of the Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture, the Laboratory of History of the Alps and Mendrisio Academy Press, the Academy’s publishing house.
Villa Argentina and Palazzo Canavée are immersed in one of the finest municipal parks in the region, much admired for the richness and variety of its plants: magnolia grandiflora, Himalayan cedars, Norway spruce, pines, black yews, and a great elm which is two hundred years old.
This building, designed by the Swiss architects Amr Soliman and Patrik Zurkirchen, contains the teaching rooms, all equipped with multimedia instruments, the offices of teaching faculty, the design studios for the second and third years of the Bachelor and Master of Science courses, the computing area, fully equipped with computers for doing design work, and the model workshop.
Palazzo Canavée is used for public meetings, while the Gallery is used for exhibitions. The school Cafeteria is on the ground floor of the building.
Palazzo Turconi / Library
The building was originally conceived as a hospice for the poor in a testamentary disposition left in writing in Paris in 1803 by Count Alfonso Maria Turconi, but built only in the mid-19th century to a project by the neoclassical architect Luigi Fontana, a native of Muggio. Inaugurated in 1860, for a century it served as a cantonal hospital for the Mendrisiotto.
On the ground floor there are the first year design studios for the BSc course. The upper floor, following lengthy restoration and renovation by the architect Marc Collomb, houses the new Library of the Academy of Architecture.
The Teatro dell’architettura Mendrisio, built on the Campus of the Accademia di architettura– Università della Svizzera italiana, was designed by arch. Mario Botta, promoted and realized thanks to the joint work of the Università della Svizzera italiana and the Fondazione Teatro dell'architettura, in order to offer a privileged dialogue space for the cultural debate on architecture, the city, the landscape.
The building, open to the public since autumn 2018, has a diameter of 27 meters and an area of about 3,000 square meters, the central circular plan with three floors above ground and two basement floors refers to the type of anatomical theater.
Unique of its kind, the Teatro dell'architettura contributes significantly to the new identity image of the Accademia di architettura of the Mendrisio Campus, offering spaces suitable for different types of use as exhibition, public lecture, events, dance, theatre ecc.
Archivio del Moderno
The Archivio del Moderno, constituted as a foundation in 2004 by an act of the Università della Svizzera italiana, was created and has been directed since 1996 by Letizia Tedeschi as an archive and research institute. It was therefore founded at the same time as the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture and, in synergy with the Academy itself, its activities have expanded the contribution of knowledge and valorization of the historical, modern and contemporary debate centred on Italian, Swiss and international architectural culture, its past and present scenarios.
On the historical front, the work of the Archivio is devoted, on the one hand, to the philosophical century and what is termed the “neoclassical” age, and on the other to the twentieth century, with particular reference to the post-war period, but without neglecting complex contemporary developments.
It also conducts studies of the significance of archival documents in sharpening the focus on the genesis of projects and analyses the changing face of the architectural profession, the contribution of the history of technology, of encounters with the arts or specific disciplinary fields such as applied design, of repeated cultural transfers (classical antiquity in the case of the neoclassical period, and the “synthesis of the arts” in the case of the twentieth century), of diversified ties with local territories and the sense of belonging that may arise in relation to the contributions made by architects and craftsmen from Ticino to the history of architecture, of the changes in training to the ever new narrations in the sector, and of other developments that are forming the platform on which to launch new paradigms of critical interpretations in response to the contemporary debate.
On the Mendrisio Campus, just ten minutes from Palazzo Canavée, stands the Casa dell’Accademia, a residential complex which houses up to 72 students. The complex, designed by architects Carola Barchi and Ludovica Molo with the collaboration of Jachen Könz, consists of two rectangular reinforced concrete buildings set parallel to each other and separated by a garden. Laid out on three floors are 18 apartments (3 of them designed for the disabled), with some 90 sqm of floor space, containing four single bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and kitchen.
The apartments come complete with furniture (beds with storage space on wheels, closets, table, chairs, sofa and armchairs, fully-fitted kitchen), with the exception of linen, cutlery and crockery, pots and pans.
On the lower floor are the laundry room, cellars and parking space for bikes. An elevator goes to the apartments allowing disabled access. The outdoor car park has 10 rental spaces and 6 for visitors.
Rooms can be rented annually by submitting the application form, duly completed, by 10 August of each year.
The accommodation is managed by the Casa dell’Accademia Foundation, responsible for allocating places in compliance with the rules of the Protocol. Its statutes require the Foundation Council to have eight members.
Member and Represent
The building, a residential edifice built in the early twentieth century, for many years housed a tavern on the ground floor frequented by locals as well as the students and faculty members of the Academy. Today the building, purchased by the USI and completely renovated by architects Ruggero Tropeano and Enrico Sassi, houses the offices of the Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture on the upper floors, while on the ground floor the new Osteria Vignetta offers a space for convivial activities by the community of the Academy that is also open to the citizens of Mendrisio. A pleasant environment, where the charm of the ancient Mendrisio bowling club that was based here is still alive in the courtyard.