Architecture students remodel ruins to preserve rural heritage in the Swiss Alps

Malvaglia valley, Ticino
Malvaglia valley, Ticino Image: Alex Barrow (Wikimedia) CC BY-SA 2.0

On 6-7 July 2019, 120 architecture students participated in a unique workshop on Mount Luzzone in Ticino, the southernmost canton of Switzerland. They worked together to remodel the ruined buildings of an abandoned ancient hamlet. By restoring these ancient structures, this project is not just aimed at preserving the cultural heritage of the region, but also at calling people’s attention and underlining the importance of their rural memory.

The workshop was jointly organized by three Swiss architecture schools: the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture at Università della Svizzera Italiana, the architecture department of Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and ETH Zurich’s Institute for Spatial and Landscape Development.

“There are many examples of this rural heritage scattered throughout the Alps, not just in Ticino. The question is, what should we do with these ruins? Given their remote locations, they are virtually useless. But by remodeling them, we can give them a purpose: to serve as landmarks. That is a function they once had but have since lost,” said Martino Pedrozzi, an architect from Ticino and the creator of the project.

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