COC, an urban regeneration intervention with international and eclectic approach
Michele Zago Architetti
Over the course of the last few decades, starting from the Second World War, the city of Lugano has experienced an urban development so significant that it has no historical precedent. Located in an area with almost unique geomorphological characteristics, the city is situated in a northern bay of Lake Ceresio, surrounded by mountains. Around the historic centre with its Lombard-style buildings with squares and arcades, the urbanisation of previously unused areas has given way, through numerous large projects, to a profound process of renovation.
From an architectural point of view, the Ticino area has begun to enjoy ever-increasing international interest, thanks above all to the various generations of exponents of the so-called "Ticino School of Architecture". These were the project protagonists of the great urban renovations of the Ticino cities starting in the 1970s. Mario Botta, Luigi Snozzi, Livio Vacchini, Aurelio Galfetti and Rino Tami, to name but a few. The principles that united these great Masters still characterise the cultural matrix in today's reality, even though there have been major changes.
This is the architectural thinking that lies behind the COC project: an approach that, by blending the principles of the Venetian school with the rigorous archetypes of the Swiss school, is linked to the legacy of the Ticino School with a more international and eclectic research. In the profound and total renovation of this residential building, an attempt was also made to respond to contemporary challenges, both by operating in an area that is now heavily impacted by the vast urban sprawl of Lombardy, and in terms of housing models in close relation to energy aspects.
The building is located on the main road that runs along the shore of the lake and is a few metres from the mouth of the Cassarate river. It is a natural limit that in the historical-social analysis of Lugano represents an urban axis between two neighbouring areas of the city, but with an undoubtedly different matrix: the centre – characterised by the historical and urban stratification that is typical of Mediterranean regions – and the residential districts, where over the last half-century a mixed fabric has formed consisting of architectural works of undisputed value and interventions of a more purely speculative purpose.
The building in question has 7 floors above ground and a basement that houses the garage and private storage rooms.
The seven floors have different functions. On the ground floor, the areas are dedicated to commerce and catering with large terraces to accommodate customers. The upper floors have offices intended for the tertiary sector as well as residential properties.
The renovation of the building involved both the exteriors, with the reconstruction of the façades and the overall energy-saving renovation measures, as well as the interiors. For the façades, a "ventilated façade" system was opted for with a textured, contemporary grey stoneware cladding.
The rock wool insulation and the reconstruction of the doors and windows made it possible to achieve a considerable upgrade in energy efficiency for the entire building.
The offices meet the needs of the local urban fabric and create a link between the city centre, now almost exclusively dedicated to the tertiary sector, with the Cassarate and Viganello districts, which are instead completely residential.
Two solutions have been conceived for the residences, which have respectively two apartments or three apartments per floor.
With reference to city planning, the redevelopment of this building can be seen as an urban regeneration intervention. Without drastically changing its volume, in fact, there was an attempt to enhance the dialogue with the pre-existing buildings, where one of the objectives was being able to act as an incubator for a series of future reconstructions and functional recoveries of the area that can take into account the specific needs of the context, tackling the evolution of the built and non-built fabric.
Michele Zago, born in 1978, graduated in architecture at IUAV in Venice where he met V. Gregotti, C. Aymonino, A. Ferlenga, F. Purini. During the academic years, under the supervision of Carlo Magnani, he collaborated with the university and started working as an architect, designing interesting buildings both private and public.
In Switzerland, since 2004, he developed his research into the concepts of housing and starts studying the theme of villas and collective residences, in these years he refined his architectural language by merging the principles of the Venetian school with the rigorous archetypes of the Switzerland’s ones.
Since 2014, the project activity has focused on the development of architecture for hotels, resorts, villas and residences, in Europe and the Middle East. The projects with the greatest international prominence include the hotel The View in Lugano, the Catrina Sky Resort SPA in Disentis and the Swiss Compound in Oman.