City Hall of Lavizzara

City Hall of Lavizzara

The daring choice of placing the new municipal administration office in the Patrician building of Prato Sornico was dictated by the desire to stress the context of the new Municipality of Lavizzara still further, in order that it become a precise point of reference for all of its inhabitants.

Concerning the prestigious mandate for the design of the new municipal premises and the new Patrician office which was assigned to me, I endeavoured to capture its innate spirit in order to respect the site fully and to embellish this beautiful structure, while completely fulfilling all present and future requirements for its use. In addition to its architectural value, it has a significant local historical context.

Located in the heart of the Lavizzara Valley, an extraordinary showcase still untouched by the industrialization process which has already considerably affected other regions, this structure is very important for its past functions and still evokes strong feelings.

The present reality was the point of reference which I intended to reassess, by following and respecting the traces of the past. Through observation, one could immediately perceive that the volume layout of this structure did not need to be modified, given its symmetrical and rigorous façades and its four pitch roof of stone slabs, which are strong expressions of power, elegance and sobriety.

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As usual, my work was accompanied and made easier by those who built this structure in the past: poor but rich in ordered schemes, with a gracious and delicate arrangement, all signs of kindness and sensitivity, respect and devotion to work, in order to assure dignity and beauty for the village.

The plan foresaw the conversion of the existing structure into a municipal administration seat and a Patrician office for the new Municipality of Lavizzara. While searching for the optimum functionality of the building, our intervention aimed at enhancing the original geometrical and symmetrical precision of the structure. Therefore, it was limited to the static, technical and safety requirements. At the same time, the refurbishment of the roof made of stone slabs also had to be carried out. The structure was completely cleared of any unnecessary elements, while its new functions were simply placed in its interior, without changing or modifying it, thus highlighting the new from the existing elements, where the original material is always displayed through the transparency and luminosity of glass which frames the new functions.

Also, for this restoration and rehabilitation work, the greatest merit has undoubtedly to be given exclusively to our ancestors. I felt as an artisan merely continuing the work who, based on new demands of our present era, resolved to adapt this structure with a touch of modernity, yet with no architectural pretences.

Its delicate, rigorous and seemingly frosty façades, as well as its arched main entrance facing the farthest horizon that the mountains allow us to see, seem to want to communicate with eternity. These façades suffice to make us know intuitively that there is nothing more dangerous than boundaries and self-withdrawal. The façades seem to invite us always to be more open and involved, in order to increase our opportunities and our knowledge. The installation of new wall-mounted doors and windows for the façades was proposed in order to provide a lighter and more transparent image, as well as a minimalist whole and a contemporary interpretation.

The external access begins outside with a ramp of monolithic elements made in white Peccia marble, which are simply placed next to the original steps made of granite. The internal entrance, also made of granite slabs, leads to the already existing elegant and conveniently roomy stairs and provides access to the upper floors and also to the higher, noble storey with the hall reserved for meetings of the City Council.

On the ground floor, there are the Municipal Council room and the municipal technician’s office. In addition to new restrooms, there is also access to the lift, which was considered necessary because of the important functions of the upper floors. On the first floor, there is the entrance to the Patrician office, which was located in the existing part of the structure which was added uphill.

In the southern part of the first floor, there are the chancellery offices with the counters, which have been created in the existing space and are separated by large walls made of transparent glass. The City Council Hall on the second floor can also be used as a multipurpose room for meetings, lectures and presentations. After having removed the very old mansard floor, I thought it proper to check the original statics of the load-bearing elements of the roof, as well as to offer spaciousness, elegance and luminosity thanks to a gilded ceiling: this mixture of lights draws one’s gaze in all possible directions, without ever losing one’s bearings. Also, the transparency and the verticality towards the attic have improved the acoustics and the aesthetics of the hall.

This structure was meant for all of us, for the people of Lavizzara, but also for politicians and politics. An administrative and planning office for our valley, in the hope that it will continually become more open and creative – this is my wish – a laboratory for new ideas: new ideas turning into projects, not only to fill up shelves, but rather to be realized by a community aware of the possibility of a better future which, for many generations, has kept hoping and working hard, longing with great patience for more favourable times.

Before starting any new projects, it comes naturally to me to reflect and base myself upon at least two fundamental reference points which the Lavizzara Valley has the fortune and the privilege to possess: the generous testimony of the past, which is there to be seen and to be reinterpreted, the contemporary reality which, together with its unique stone-hewn jewel, the Church of Mogno, has become part of recent history beginning in 1986.More than any other region, we can be proud of having the attention of the whole world fixed on us.

Both the projectuel theme and the realization have been full of opportunities, whereas the research and the execution of the details have enabled us to leave our mark and to reassess with minimalism the restoration of this structure. Once again, I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given to devote myself to this work, which gave me the feeling that I had found the keys to both the past and the future.


- Inaugurazione del 14 giugno 2009, Bollettino informativo Lavizzara(.pdf)

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Giovan Luigi Dazio

Via San Gottardo 80A | 6648 Minusio
T. +41 (0) 91 751 63 82
N. +41 (0) 79 409 83 63
F. +41 (0) 91 752 23 19

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