Locarno Apartments


The ‘Villa Erica’ boarding school is prominently located in the elevated quarter of Monti della Trinita in Locarno, Switzerland, 500 metres from the renowned Piazza Grande. Due to the closure of the boarding school, our client commissioned us to explore potential new uses for the buildings.

The large complex encompasses a seven-storey building with sixty-one dormitory rooms and a three-storey building with eight classrooms. Built in 1978, the architecture displays Brutalist characteristics: striking repetitive angular geometries constructed in prefabricated and in-situ concrete. The buildings are connected to a beautiful green garden filled with palm trees and enclosed by a natural stone wall.

Our redevelopment plan foresees a conversion of the boarding school into a multigenerational home with 30 apartments, most of them with views of the Lago Maggiore. The existing auditorium, canteen and chapel will remain in function, offering the apartment building unique in-house facilities.

In the higher building, the existing dorm rooms will be enlarged – both horizontally and vertically – to create apartments ranging in size from one to four rooms. This will be achieved by removing most of the partition walls between the rooms transforming the dark cubicle-like interiors into light, spacious volumes. The former classrooms, which contain impressive concrete cassette ceilings, will be converted into home care service rooms.

The existing windows of the buildings will be enlarged into full-height openings increasing the sense of space and light in the interiors, further accentuating the rawness of the Brutalist concrete structure.


Location: Locarno, Switzerland
Client: Barmherzige Schwestern vom heiligen Kreuz, Mutterprovinz Schweiz
Year: 2012
Status: Ongoing
Team: Serge Schoemaker, Dik Houben, Kevin Veenhuizen, Giulia Zia
In collaboration with: Studio d’architettura Cristiana Guerra

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