This building enriches the city of Lugano with a totally new construction which, however, respects the obligation, also confirmed by popular vote, to preserve the historic façades (the east façade towards the lake and the south façade towards the pre-existing park). The intervention understood as restoration work was limited to the façades that became actual theatre wings through which to view the contemporary architecture. The former Grand Hotel Palace was beset by many disasters during the century and a half of its existence. Over the years, fires, destruction, abandonment, collapse and adverse weather conditions contributed to rendering the interior of this shell a vast pile of rubble. When Lugano City Council took over the property Sergio and Geo Mantegazza, Maria Luisa Garzoni and Mario Albek were assigned to restoring to Lugano an important part of the urban fabric. The project reaffirmed the original design but in the light of the new architecture and new materials, such as the use of metal cladding for the north and west façades. It deliberately rejected all faux imitation of the old style and added a new contemporary chapter to the history of the building. By reutilizing the façades in the design of the whole complex two contrasting and distinct temporal realities were juxtaposed. The quest to establish this difficult balance has not damaged the individual stratifications of the building in any way. Moreover, a further task of the project was to relate the long rear façade, an expression of the new contemporary architecture, to the severe, serene old cloister. The courtyard and the cloister now live in the new reflected light of the materials of the new edifice, which does not conflict with but links it to the adjacent buildings. The windows in the rear façades reprise the verticality of those in the monastery, though they are revisited in a more contemporary style. The preservation of the historic façades and their enhancement was one of the most demanding tasks, both from an architectural and technical standpoint. All the areas that were badly damaged or missing were faithfully replaced according to surveys or to what had been found on site. The aim was the perfect conservative restoration of a reality that had decayed due to the neglect it had suffered over the years. In addition to this, the perimeter walls consisted of heterogeneous materials since they had been built in different times and situations. All this considerably increased the complexity and delicacy of the restoration work. The façades were initially stabilized by using a special temporary metal trellis on micro-poles fixed in advance. The wall was then strengthened in sections with suitable reinforced concrete elements. During the delicate restoration of the façades, non-invasive techniques were adopted to remove traces of pollution, while the plaster on the façade was restored to the original shade, reconstructed thanks to historical documentation. All this painstaking work was completed under the watchful eye of the four Omenoni to whom the Lugano people are very attached. The new building, with the sole exception of the historic façades, was constructed completely ex novo and therefore expresses the contemporary quality of the intervention by offering a clear interpretation of the old and the new. This precise aim is also reflected in the choice of the materials utilized. The façades towards the cloister and the green courtyard were made using a bearing wall clad with metal sheets and smooth glass surfaces. The narrow west façade towards the Theatre was constructed without any windows and without any marked wall base. On the ground floor the inner façades towards the north have predominantly glass elements. To conclude, a great effort was made during every stage of the new Grand Palace Residence to relate it to the adjacent church of Santa Maria degli Angioli, which contains extraordinary art treasures. The intervention included two basement floors at a safe distance of 13.50 metres from the wall of the church. The projecting parts above ground are supported by a reinforced concrete structure resting on poles. This very cautious planning approach was guaranteed not to interfere with the walls and the wooden pole foundations of the church. The Grand Palace Residence, together with the adjacent cultural centre LAC, offers a new view not only of the lakefront but of the city’s entire urban fabric. The piazza with its public and private buildings has now become an actual entrance gate to the historic centre. The dualism of the new complex, though constituting a single whole, is also reflected in the LAC that creates a link with the modern part of the city overlooking the lake, while the Grand Palace Residence and the church of Santa Maria degli Angioli are the first buildings that lead to the historic Via Nassa..
Projects, Residential Complexes