IRB Headquarters Bellinzona \

Transitioning between the emerging park landscape and urban character of Bellinzona.

The IRB is a major, internationally recognised research institution which has raised the profile of Bellinzona since its establishment in 2000.

Since 2000 it has rapidly grown in size and developed key partnerships with two equally important institutes, the Institute of Oncology Research and the Neuro Centre of Southern Switzerland. Over the last 15 years the Institute needed to refurbish its current facilities a number of times to accommodate this growth. The decision was made that a new facility would support their success and enable them to further their research.

The Challenge

The building is located on the edge of the city, contributing to the transition between the emerging park landscape and urban character of Bellinzona. In taking the IRB away from their well-known inner city location it was important to design a landmark building that strengthened their presence in the Ticino region. With an understanding of the fast-paced and progressive nature of research development, we saw the importance in defining how three separate institutions can function under one roof, encouraging collaboration and world enhancing research.

The Big Idea

Our proposal viewed the building relationship with its context and the day-to-day experience of its occupants in equal measure.The main building entrance is approached across the northern courtyard, a transitional experience taking scientists and visitors away from the city into a research environment, whilst a secondary entrance to the western side of the building allows access to future development on the adjacent site. Most of the occupied rooms are pushed to the longer east and west sides of the building, maximising views of the city, valley and castles. The central courtyards allow natural light to penetrate into the deeper parts of the plan. The two courtyards and perimeter are planted with rich green space that provides changing experiences within and around the building. Overlooking these areas the common rooms and circulation spaces work hard to encourage interaction between the three institutions and their different disciplines.

The Small Detail

The external façade is conceived as a ‘wrapper’ which outwardly presents the three institutions as a unified building, whilst the transparency of the internal courtyards reveals the character of the individual departments and their relationship with the building’s heart. The British painter; J.M.W Turner’s works of Bellinzona have been reinterpreted as subtle memories of the surrounding landscape to embed the façade design in its context.

Project Summary

  • Project name: The Institute for Research in Biomedicine Headquarters, Bellinzona
  • Location: Bellinzona, Switzerland
  • Sectors: Workplace, Education
  • Service: Architecture
  • Value: 44m CHF / £29m
  • Type: New build
  • Client: Institute of Research in Biomedicine
  • Status: Competition
  • Completion date: 2014

Project Team

Local Architect: Studio Mazzola
Structural/Civil Engineer: Marcionelli & Winkler + Partners SA – Bellinzona
Services Engineer: Brunner Haustechnik AG
Laboratory Specialist: CSV Life Science Srl
Sustainability Consultant: IFEC Consulenze SA

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