The LAC, Lugano Arte e Cultura, is an arts venue designed by Ivano Gianola to host and enhance the wide range of art forms. Built on the site of the former Grand Hotel Palace, the project rebuilt and develop the urban area and provides many functions in addition to the exhibition spaces: a large piazza, bar, parking, theatre and concert auditorium. The Centre aspires to become the pulsating heart of Lugano, always open to the City’s residents and visitors.
In 2001, 130 architectural firms took part in the competition to create the new Arts Centre; the competition was won by the architect, Ivano Gianola, an exponent of the so-called Ticino School of architecture, who stood out because of the strong ties between his architectural projects and the local environment.
In this specific creation also, the main advantage is the absence of any physical separation between the city’s streets and the building. Like the street and the piazza, the ground floor of the LAC was also designed to be accessible to the public. The shape of the section housing the museum, raised up on columns, does not enclose the area in a clearly defined perimeter, but opens it up towards the lake. From the piazza, visitors can choose the direction they wish to take; they can enter LAC to access the museum or the theatre; they can cross the internal courtyards; enter the adjoining park or walk into the city centre.
On entering the building, visitors find themselves in a spacious 650 m2 hall designed as a huge window designed to render the boundary between indoor and outdoor almost imperceptible. The hall, the bookshop and a bar are open to visitors, just like any town street, enabling them to cross from one side of the city to the other.
With a volume of 180,000 m2 ( surface 29,000 m2), LAC has been constructed on the site of the former Grand Hotel Palace and also includes a pre-existing church and a Franciscan convent. In addition to the large hall, it embraces an innovative theatre and concert auditorium, a sizeable museum and exhibition space and various modular, multipurpose rooms for events, including arts events. The combination of new and old is one of LAC’s salient characteristics. The rooms on the ground floor of the cloisters for example, have become new areas which are once more open to residents, whilst the upper floors will be occupied by the LAC offices.
The Auditorium perfect acoustics
Walking through the foyer, visitors can access the theatre and concert auditorium (800 m2) with seating for 1000 people. The room is a concentration of modular and cutting-edge engineering solutions, making it possible to organise any type of show, including symphony and jazz concerts, opera and operetta, dance and theatre. This versatility is chiefly due to the modular acoustic shell and a mobile system for the orchestra pit, which may be raised up to the level of the stage, extending it up to the first row of seats. Thanks to cooperation between the architect Ivano Gianola and Müller BBM from Munich, a leading company in the acoustic engineering sector, the LAC’s theatre and concert Auditorium provides a perfect blend of architectural aesthetics and acoustic quality.
On the opposite side of the foyer, it is possible to visit the museum which was created by combining the Museo Cantonale d’Arte and the Museo d’Arte della Città di Lugano. The spaces are simple, white, flexible and flooded with light in order to allow visitors to fully appreciate the works. The architectural structure is completed by the TeatroStudio, dedicated to smaller performances and as a rehearsal room for plays and concert performances.
Architect Gianola states “It is the city’s very strength which enables and empowers LAC. The arts venue project is not predicated on the construction of a prestigious building, but is intended to ensure territorial continuity and a new form of urban development.”
Photo: Studio Pagi.