House of sustainability

Immagine: Studio it’s
Immagine: Studio it’s

Università della Svizzera italiana seeks to provide future generations with an education and training that will help them to respect the great balances of nature and life. It is within this context that the "House of Sustainability" project was born, which aims to be a cultural hub for education and reflection on issues concerning sustainable development. A base camp in the middle of the Alps, whose main vocation will be to welcome all USI’s Bachelor degree students for an innovative training course combining theory and practical experience in the Alpine region, to become aware of today's great challenges.

The house will open in the academic year 2023/2024. Renovation work on the building began in December 2022.

The project was made possible thanks to the synergy with the municipality of Airolo and the financial contribution of Canton Ticino to support the renovation work.

The activities of the House of Sustainability will be ensured by a team on site, accompanied by a Scientific and Didactic Commission composed of representatives from all Faculties.

The activities of the House of Sustainability

The centre will offer approximately 30 2.5-day courses each year for around 500 Bachelor students from all USI’s Faculties. A compulsory course that will be recognised with 1.5 ECTS.

In addition to being a place of training, the House of Sustainability will also be the base of USI Sport Service for summer and winter outdoor activities, a further opportunity for the USI Community to promote an encounter with the Alps and their features. The House will also be a meeting place for cultural initiatives in dialogue with other institutions in the region and will host an astronomical planetarium that will serve both as a didactic tool during seminars for students -to discover the fragility of our planet- and for guided tours for the public and schools.

Finally, in the moments not occupied by compulsory courses or sports activities, the House will be able to host other initiatives for the USI community or even third parties.

The building

The project envisages the recovery and enhancement of the former post office, located in the centre of Airolo, designed in the 1950s by the Tami architects and currently disused. The building transformation project was realised by Studio Gendotti SA. Thanks to various measures planned to maximise energy efficiency, the building will be Minergie-A certified.

The project envisages the creation of 23 bed spaces, seminar spaces, a kitchen with a refectory area, and spaces for small exhibitions.

A privileged territory

The Gotthard region is a privileged observatory for major topical issues. The glaciers are retreating at an unprecedented rate, the topic of energy is emerging in an area scarred by high-voltage power lines, dams or wind turbines; the rich biodiversity is in decline even in unique locations such as the Piora area; tourism is looking for new models of development and use of the mountains both because of climate change and to develop sustainable models; transport and mobility in the future will be called upon to meet new needs. Also marking the valley is the management of natural risks. In 2018, UNESCO inscribed avalanche risk management on its list of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind, and Airolo and Val Bedretto offer multiple examples of this.