Studio d'Archltettura Aurelio Galfetti PUBLIC TENNIS CLUB
(Bellinzona, Switzerland) 1982-85
(Left) Site plan of the tennis club
(Below left) Detail of ground floor plan
(Opposite) Exterior view of the long, wall-like structure
(Above and opposite, above) Two views of the entrance
Galfetti is one of the major figures of the group of Ticinese architects made up of Mario Botta (pp. 64-67), Flora Ruchat and Luigi Snozzi (pp. 80-81) among others, who were identified by the architectural historian Kenneth Frampton with the broader international trend of critical regionalism and assigned the function of cultural critics.
Galfetti and his associates designed a community swimming facility in 1967-70. It is now the nucleus of a new recreational complex that includes this tennis club. The brief envisaged, in addition to 8 courts, a small restaurant and clubhouse. 4 changing rooms. 32 showers, 12 toilets and various storehouses and technical installations. The special feature of the new building is that, like a wall, it supports but also encloses: it both houses the services of the club and forms a barrier separating the facilities from the rest of the town.
There are precedents for such wall-like buildings. Galfetti acknowledges the influence of Le Corbusier's plans for Rio and Tangiers. But he also refers to the more regional prototype that is particular to its location. A hill town in the Italian Swiss Alps, Bellinzona is situated at the point where the valley of the Ticino river widens to form Lake Maggiore. With its complex of three castles and their connecting fortified walls, the town was the barrier that controlled access to the three high mountain passes of San Gottardo. San Bernardino and Lucomagno, as Gerardo Brown-Manrique notes in his architectural guide to the Ticino area (1989). Castelgrande, dating from the late 4th century, is the oldest of the three castles and is a small acropolis fifty metres above the valley floor. The magnificent walls still dominate the morphology and life of the city and its passageways remain important public spaces and pedestrian circulation paths. Once their restoration, which Galfetti is directing, is complete, they will house banquet rooms, a restaurant, exhibition halls and meeting rooms.
Besides its identity as a building type, the wall of the Public Tennis Club embodies a feature of Galfetti's work which has beer consistent since the early 1960s and which inspired the Ticinese critical regionalist move ment as a whole: construction craftsmanship It implied a resistance, or rather one should say a representation of resistance, to the advance ment of technocratic commercialism. In this connection, Galfetti's work can be seen as a continuation of a long and celebrated tradition
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