2014 – 2020
Villa Erica in Locarno
The history of Villa Erica is closely linked to the Capuchin convent (today the Istituto Sant’Eugenio) lying below, which was founded in 1886 as a result of a meeting between the first bishop of Ticino, Monsignor Eugenio Lachat (hence the name) and Mother Maria Theresia Scherer, co-founder of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross of Ingenbohl. This meeting gave rise to an institute for receiving especially needy, orphan and deaf children, of whom there were many in Ticino at that time.
The Istituto Villa Erica is now within an area devoted to teaching (apart from the above-mentioned Istituto Sant’Eugenio, there is also a vocational and commercial school, the Istituto Santa Caterina and the cantonal special needs schools).
The Villa Erica language and commercial school was founded in 1943 by the same order of sisters. Courses were terminated in June 2015. The building, constructed in 1978 by the architect Aldo Guscetti following the demolition of the original Villa Erica, is characterised by a modernist style, with a reinforced concrete structure and prefabricated bush hammered facades also in reinforced concrete.
The structure consists of two parts: the building above is the residential block of seven storeys connected by a graceful monolithic staircase in granite. There are 61 bedrooms, each with en-suite facilities. On the lower floors are the dining room, kitchen, auditorium and chapel. The three-storey building below contains seven classrooms and the gymnasium.
An attractive garden shaped like an amphitheatre provided recreational space for the pupils.
After the termination of courses, the sisters made the rooms of the boarding school available for female students, caregivers or people who needed a small apartment quickly or for a short time.
The architectural quality of the construction and the excellent state of preservation led us to intervene with great care and due regard for the spirit of the building.
The roofs were renovated and the bush hammered facades cleaned. We renewed the sanitary facilities and installed new kitchenettes on each floor for the shared use of residents, replacing the one in the sisters’ private area on the top floor. The fitted carpets in the bedrooms were replaced with wooden floors and the bathrooms were faced with granite from the Valle Maggia.
An innovative lighting concept enhances the internal presence of the bush hammered concrete. The original lamps were retained and equipped with LED lights. The furniture specifically designed for the rooms was also restored and retained.
Compliance with current fire regulations was implemented while maintaining all the original structural components.