A residential building in Lugano that uses heat from the earth and power from the sun
Sustainability, limiting urban sprawl, and protecting natural areas were all key factors in the design of Mistral, a residential building in Lugano, Switzerland. Mistral has six above- and two underground floors, twelve apartments, a penthouse level with a dynamic profile, and rounded balconies. Designed by Nicola Probst Architetti, the building is in a densely built part of the Besso district of the Swiss city. The client brief called for a design that would use the space wisely, with original shapes and apartments of different sizes. The studio responded with a quality, sustainable building that respects the environment through harnessing geothermal and solar energy. Provided it’s done in moderation and with respect to setting, the densification of cities in this way can contribute to reducing urban sprawl and, therefore, protecting the surrounding areas and nature. Intersecting spaces of different shapes and sizes – from 970 to 2370 sq.ft (90–220 m2) – are key to this project, producing different floorplans on each level with interlocking corner apartments on different sides of the building.
The unusual shape of the building when seen from outside reflects its internal dynamism. Each side is unique, with openings forming an irregular rhythm. The rounded balconies project out from the line of the façade by different distances. The twelve apartments are different sizes, alternating by level. The organization of the apartments follows a rational logic, with them built around a central services area with equipment rooms and vertically connecting elements.
Breaking this pattern, while adding an additional volumetric liveliness to the building, is the penthouse apartment, which forms a kind of crown. This two-story residence comprises open and double-height spaces that open onto a south-west facing terrace through large windows.
The common thread running through the entire design process was sustainability in all its forms: the use of renewable sources, energy efficiency, and attention to environmental, economic, and social issues. The building is heated by a heat pump with five geothermal probes sunk up to 525 feet (160 m) deep into the ground to take advantage of heat from the subsoil. The heat pump is reversable to provide summer cooling without needing traditional air conditioning. The geothermal system is integrated with a 12 kW photovoltaic system on the roof, the two giving the building energy autonomy.
These principles are all part of the philosophy of the Ticino-based studio, which it has combined here with particular attention to contemporaneity. They’re the factors that drive Nicola Prost Architetti to constantly search for the best solutions in relation to setting, technology, and client requirements.
Location: Lugano, Switzerland
Architect: Nicola Probst Architetti
Total Area: 3.150 m2
Photography by Alexandre Zveiger, courtesy of Nicola Probst Architetti