Theatre of Architecture, Mendrisio, Switzerland

Theatre of Architecture, Mendrisio, Switzerland (2005/2010-2017)
Project: 2005/2010
Construction: 2013-in progress (opening spring 2018)
Clients: Fondazione Teatro dell’architettura,
USI (Università della Svizzera Italiana),
Academy of Architecture
Useful surface: 3000 m²
Volume: 17.000 m³
To offer an instrument for the promotion of the cultural debate on architecture is the driving force
behind the efforts of the Università della Svizzera italiana and the Fondazione Teatro
dell’architettura to establish a new building – the Theatre of Architecture – on the campus of the
Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio. The centrally planned building, with a diameter of 27
metres, consists of three levels above ground and two levels underground, these latter connected to
Palazzo Turconi and the hospital Beata Vergine. The floors above ground are used as exhibition
spaces, while the basements serve as lecture halls, archives, and storage areas. The exhibition space
is organized around a central void illumined by a skylight at the top of the cover.
Besides the educational and research activities that the university has been carrying out, this
initiative aims at strengthening reflection on the discipline and highlighting the new
transdisciplinary interests that are increasingly affecting the design process and redefining the social
role of architecture. The difficult issues contemporary society has to cope with – the effort to
preserve the environment, the availability of energy resources, the drastic climate changes, and the
difficult new social scenarios – so strongly affect the dynamics linked to the identity aspects
recorded at the regional level as to make it necessary to develop new approaches and a new
sensibility in architecture, urbanism, and landscape planning.
Aware of these radical changes, ever since its foundation the Academy of Architecture has sought
to favour and strengthen the humanistic values underlying the discipline and now, with the
construction of the Theatre of Architecture, it intends to confirm its vocation and favour new
initiatives as a supplement to its professional training.