Renovation Vignetta building – USI Mendrisio

© ALBERTO CANEPA

The building known as “Vignetta” (named after the former bar-restaurant that once occupied the ground floor) was built at the start of the twentieth century at the centre of the campus of the Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio.

© ALBERTO CANEPA

It was acquired by USI (the University of Italian Switzerland) in 2005 with the intention of using the upper floors as staff offices for the Accademia. Prior to the intervention, the rooms on the first and second floor had been used for residential purposes and were in a poor state of repair. The ancient floors consisted of a support structure made from timber beams, with floorboards over which various flooring materials – even concrete – had been laid.

© ALBERTO CANEPA

A static survey revealed that the load-bearing capacity of the floor slabs was not in compliance with legal requirements. We opted for a solution that was specific and adapted to the different requirements. Where possible the existing timber structure was retained and consolidated; where this proved unfeasible, the floors were removed and rebuilt using a hollow-core concrete structure.

© ALBERTO CANEPA

In order to adapt the building to its new function, the following works were carried out:
• removal of one of the two existing staircases because redundant
• construction of new reinforced concrete floor slabs in the space obtained by removing the stair well
• complete removal of the original timber floors in four rooms, replaced by new hollow-core concrete floor slabs
• consolidation of the original timber floors in four rooms, strengthened with joists and reinforced concrete
• removal of one bathroom
• restoration of the wooden staircase leading to the attic and installation of new hand rails and banisters made from steel rebars
• replacement of the electrical panel, new power distribution network and internet connection system
• new lighting for offices
• construction of four entrance door boards for as many offices

© ALBERTO CANEPA

Given the uniqueness of the building, all interventions were intended to preserve its historical character. In particular, the existing doors and original floors were retained where they were found to be in a good state of conservation. Traces of the successive transformations of the building were retained and left exposed, as in the case of the second staircase, which had to be cut as the steps were embedded into the wall: the cut steps remain visible on the wall surface.

© ALBERTO CANEPA
@ ALERTO CANEPA
© ALBERTO CANEPA
© ALBERTO CANEPA
© ALBERTO CANEPA
© ALBERTO CANEPA
© ALBERTO CANEPA
©ENRICO SASSI ARCHITETTO
©ENRICO SASSI ARCHITETTO
©ENRICO SASSI ARCHITETTO
©ENRICO SASSI ARCHITETTO

Renovation Vignetta building

USI Accademia di Architettura – Mendrisio

Project: 2015 – 2016

Photographer: Alberto Canepa

Technical data

Client: Accademia di Architettura, USI

Architect and Project Manager: Enrico Sassi

Collaborator: Roberta Blasi, Irene Lucca

Civil engineer: Pietro Brenni

HVAC engineer: Ehab Mattar, IFEC SA

Contractor: Barella SA

Plumber: Francesco Talaia

Electricians: Giuseppe Barone, Spinelli SA

Lighting: Relettra SA

Flooring: ManuTecnica Sagl

Plasterer: Michele Vodola

Metal fabricators: Agustoni Fabrizio SA

Reinforcing steel shapers: Ghielmimport SA

Metalworker: Francesco Talaia

Carpenter: Mirco Solcà

Painter/decorator: Giovanni Righitto, Rovio Color

Pubblication