Recent collaborations and synergies between the City of Mendrisio and the Academy of Architecture
Institutional Communication Service
17 April 2023
The Academy of Architecture of Università della Svizzera italiana is an increasingly prominent presence in Mendrisio. The significant number of students - around 800 between Bachelor's, Master's and PhD degrees - and the rich calendar of events make the Academy an active, stimulating and proactive reality. Its relevance is also reflected in a number of urban planning projects carried out in recent years in collaboration with the City of Mendrisio, which firmly believes in and strongly supports a synergic exchange with the university.
Examples include the renovated Palazzo Turconi with the new home of the Academy's Library, Teatro dell'Architettura, and Osteria Vignetta, taken over by USI in 2018 and which, in addition to being a popular university bar, has become an important crossroads between the local and the academic community, thus responding to one of USI's and the Academy's objectives of integration in the local area. This is the context for the recent City of Mendrisio Prize for the graduate with the best GPA, introduced in 2022 in recognition of future architects who have trained in close contact with the area.
Another space that the Academy of Architecture has given back to the population is the callisthenics park in Canavee, whose equipment was financed by USI and built, on the Academy's land, in collaboration with the City of Mendrisio. Callisthenics is a discipline accessible to everyone, from fitness beginners to athletes, and can be practised with or without a trainer. Also designed to compensate for the lack of a gym for students, the callisthenics park is, in fact, an open-air gym accessible to the entire population from the public park of Villa Argentina.
Last year, the first Transversal Territory workshop directed by Antoine de Perrot with Aalaii Mansoureh was held in the Rime-Brecch compound. The workshop aims to involve the citizens to reflect and rethink the identity of places and collectively develop a new environmental sensitivity. Thanks also to the support of Aziende Industriali di Mendrisio, the second edition will be held from 10 to 16 July 2023, with a series of public events planned for September, and will lead students and residents to reflect and question the Via delle sorgenti, (officially Via Industria) and known to the people of Mendrisio as the Acquafresca area where the springs and the Paolaccio drinking water reservoir are located.
A further project carried out by the Academy of Architecture together with the City of Mendrisio was the recovery of an unused place located in Via alla Torre, immediately upstream from the garden of Villa Argentina, a ruined structure on land that the City had recently acquired and which is now a recreational space available to the population—this project, financed by the Academy, combined educational, ecological and civic needs. From an academic point of view, the students of Atelier Albori, led by architect Giacomo Borella, had the opportunity to experience the entire process of transforming a specific place, starting from an initial phase of investigation to the development of a sensible and feasible project, followed by its concrete construction through manual work. A central point of the work was the ecological approach. While facing a profound crisis in environmental balances, the small size of the intervention and the need to keep costs as low as possible prompted a practical and in-depth reflection on the relationship between construction choices and the use of resources. Therefore, mainly recycled materials were used, such as marble and stone from the Arzo quarries or sheets supplied by the cantonal hospital authority. The workshop took place in the autumn semester of 2022, and those who today have the chance to visit the Cortile Aquilone or pass by Via alla Torre will be surprised to see the picture of the land as it was only a few months ago.
Another major project being studied is the landscape and architectural redevelopment of Via Turconi, which involves the City, the Academy and Ente Ospedale Cantonale, intending to make an area of great historical and social importance attractive and functional. Traffic control, new trees and gardens will reinforce the idea of a large urban park that puts the pedestrian at the centre.
On Saturday, May 13, 2023, the Academy of Architecture of USI and SUPSI's Department of Environment Construction and Design will open their doors on the occasion of "Campus in Festa," a popular festival, desired and supported by the City of Mendrisio, to allow all and sundry to discover more closely the places and activities of the two university institutions. More information at the following link.