SUPSI University Campus
Kengo Kuma's design for a two-phase addition of a Mendrisio-based campus to 'La Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana (SUPSI)', an institute of higher education for applied sciences in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, has been unveiled. In collaboration with local architects Studio d`architettura Martino Pedrozzi, the proposal seeks to link parts of the city divided by an expansive railway system by overturning the track as a constraint on the architecture. A 'skywalk' and large underpass renew the entire circulation of the existing buildings while connecting the university to the city. By keeping access and movement central to the creation of the architecture, the structure becomes a balance of infrastructure and artificial landscape while forging a new typology of an urban building for the region. The campus will act as a catalyst for future urban development by freeing the north side of the site for future projects. Formally, the design has the hallmarks of a ramp, sloped in two directions and punctured with subtle gestures of vertical circulation. The building is made up of narrow nodes that extend over the entire extent of the site, while the footprint of the building connects these areas of program with a sequence of open, public spaces. The main green-covered promenade creates new standards for sustainable practice, while a block-long green wall reinvents the possibilities of urban shade screen. The building envelope is comprised of thin slabs of stone alternating with aluminum panels - its pattern determined by optimal daylight orientation. The technology of the building provides a very high level of thermal insulation, with large windows that provide natural light to the interiors and solar gain during the winter season. A wealth of outdoor spaces is bolstered by a smattering of ample terraces and shelters positioned in the cool shade of the structure. These open, circulation-filled plazas also accommodate the university's extensive public programming which include an on-campus kindergarten. This mixed demographic carries into the main space; on the ground floor, there are classrooms dedicated to continuing education as well as the main cafeteria, where the large and bright triple height volume looks on to the outdoor covered area in front of the laboratories. The latter glazed space can be completely opened in good weather and animated by the presence of students and professors using the open-air seating. Description by Designboom


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