Collaboration between USI and the City Council of Varese for the enhancement of Piazza Repubblica and the new Italian branch of the Archivio del Moderno

Institutional Communication Service

28 May 2021

The agreement between Università della Svizzera italiana and the City Council of Varese for the architectural enhancement of Piazza Repubblica, the construction of a market hall and the new Italian headquarters of the Archivio del Moderno has been presented.

In recent weeks, the agreement was signed by USI and the City Council of Varese and provides, in addition to the enhancement of Piazza Repubblica, also the opening of the Italian branch of the Archivio del Moderno in the spaces of the former Caserma Garibaldi, which are still being renovated.

On Wednesday, 26 May 2021, a press conference presented the Italo-Swiss collaboration featuring the Mayor of Varese Davide Galimberti, Councillor Andrea Civati, the Rector of Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) Boas Erez and the Director of the Academy of Architecture Mendrisio Riccardo Blumer.

According to Italian law, by 2022, archives of historical interest must be located in Italy, including those preserved in Mendrisio. "Hence the decision of Università della Svizzera italiana to open a branch of the Foundation in Italy," explained Director Riccardo Blumer.

Prof. Boas Erez, Rector of Università della Svizzera italiana, underlined the importance of the Archivio del Moderno, which will take its seat in the new cultural center of Varese. He recalled the long research to find the right location for one of the most important and precious collections of modern architecture documents. "After years of evaluations, feasibility studies and meetings, the City of Varese convinced the commission which chose it over Novara and Como, the other possible locations".

The choice was oriented towards a location near the border, strengthened by the new Varese-Mendrisio railway connections, therefore easy to access, presenting the ideal conditions to continue the activities aimed at the study and research promotion of heritage with meetings, exhibitions, and debates. "The proposal of the City of Varese to dedicate part of the Caserma Garibaldi to the wider project of the cultural centre was considered the most concrete and feasible," continued the Rector. "This is an important agreement that represents a further stage in the collaborations within the Insubric region".

A view also shared by the Mayor of Varese Davide Galimberti, who commented: "the arrival in Varese of the headquarters of Archivio del Moderno is a great opportunity that will enrich the cultural hub and foster the international vocation of the city".

The architectural and functional enhancement of the spaces will be designed by the students of the Academy of Architecture led by Prof. Riccardo Blumer. The design will mainly see the continuation of the valorisation of Piazza Repubblica, with a close connection with the new cultural pole and the construction of the new market hall.

"We are working on the design of the Piazza with the students of the Academy - explained Director Riccardo Blumer - We have immediately addressed the issue of the empty spaces around which, until recently, cities were built, forgetting, however, to include these spaces in a broader and more comprehensive design. Now we are working on how to fill this "void". Such places must go back to being lived and crossed by people. In this sense, the market hall has already made enormous strides forward for the square, expressing its true potential. The market is a place for business and a place of culture, exchange, and relationship. With the students, we are then focusing on three aspects: the design of the market hall, the enhancement of the relationship with the monument, and the theme of the entrance to the city and the coexistence with the square. In addition, our school is very attentive to the issue of sustainability, so we will propose solutions that can allow this place to self-power thanks to innovative architectural techniques".

"The idea of involving the Academy of Mendrisio - concluded Councillor Andrea Civati - also has the clear objective of boosting the architectural quality of the space thanks to a shared project that will soon be ready for construction. In addition to a great cultural quality given the creation of one of the largest cultural centres in the area with over 10 thousand square meters of surface".



The Archivio del Moderno is a centre of advanced studies and foundation active in the history of architecture, engineering, spatial planning, design and the visual arts. It is part of the constellation of the Università della Svizzera italiana and the European network of research centres devoted to these studies. It was founded in 1996 as an institute of the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture and established as a foundation in 2004 by USI. To strengthen and coordinate academic activities, the USI established the Archive at the Academy of Architecture in 2018, while the foundation is the holder and guarantor of the conservation and valorisation of its archives. It has been under the direction of Letizia Tedeschi since 1996. The study centre is today an accredited place of meeting and collaboration for researchers worldwide, and it recognises among its priorities the promotion of young researchers. It welcomes PhD researchers, advanced researchers and fellows. It conducts numerous research projects funded by third-party institutions and competitive research establishments. In this context, it has established several cooperations, in addition to the one with Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio, with universities, research institutes, museums, archives and foundations on a national and international level.