Studio Territorio Ticino, a USI Accademy of Architecture laboratory, starts from the geo-morphological dimension of Canton Ticino, referencing the complex altimetry that so profoundly affects its spatial perception. It is an Alpine area with mountains facing each other across a valley floor of changing breadths and STT perceives the “Ticino area” as a whole.
The city has been at the centre of the architectural and planning debate in recent decades and in Canton Ticino this trend has translated into a concentration on the valley floor, a narrow strip of land with countless flows and activities that has become the setting for the Canton’s urban phenomenon. This general approach has favoured a longitudinal trajectory, allowing a precise and detailed reading of urbanisation in relation to the principal infrastructural axes that innervate the Canton area. The focus on the valley floor leads into the domain of communications, business and speed. It means unlocking complex and dynamic spatial relations which often inevitably transcend the cantonal and national legal boundaries in favour of broader territorial visions.
Studio Territorio Ticino acknowledges this major cultural legacy and offers continuity while at the same time striving to complement this already consolidated research path. Continuity in terms of not ceasing to work on the valley floor, seen as an ideal place of transformation which should be constantly reanalysed, recontextualised and monitored. Complementing in the sense of focusing on a more “transversal” reading of the area. This transversal approach is intended less in the figurative sense – because a whole host of inputs and interpretations already underpin research on the valley floor – and more in the strictly spatial sense: adopting a transversal “section” as the preferred means of reading the cantonal area and reconsidering the valley floor based on the multiple links that bind it seamlessly to the peaks of the mountains rising at its sides.
Such considerations entail a radical shift of perspective. The valley floor is intrinsically homogeneous and this has favoured the diffusion of often chaotic and inconsistent building works but the mountains – always linked to their valley floors – force us to engage with a large number of internal variations as regards altimetry, climate and accessibility. All these differences drive significant cultural, economic and social changes. The valley floor is a place of modern dynamism and efficiency but venturing into the valleys entails a change of pace. It requires a re-understanding of the economic relations that governed past eras, embracing a slower pace and often more challenging conditions. Studio Territorio Ticino believes that this complementary interpretation offers fresh potential for understanding the area and steering its development. A comprehensive vision of the valleys and valley floor will restore a synergic relationship that is crucial for the growth of the area and re-establish rewarding connections, bringing exchanges – production, cultural and social – between historically interdependent realities. This integrated approach also enables us to recalibrate the building and infrastructural balance – the aim of the new planning tools and “quality centripetal development” policy – within a broader and more farsighted local framework that seeks to bridge the divide between “bigger” and “smaller” contexts.
In January 2022, the publication of the article Il Ticino “in sezione” – inspired by the subtle and illuminating distinction between “mountainous” and “mountain” suggested by the geographer Mauro Varotto – summarised the considerations expressed above. It had programmatic consequences for Studio Territorio Ticino in that it defined the cornerstones of its local research.