The archive is elusive; it cannot be contained by walls. The spaces within the archive are also not restricted to four walls but become floating volumes, suspended throughout the architecture. Nestled in the mountains of Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, this archive houses architectural documents and drawings for the entire Ticino region.
The visitor ascends the main staircase (the only diagonal element) and enters the building on the top floor, housing utilities and the front desk. The guest then descends down two more staircases to the bottom floor- the archive floor- set up like a library with stacks and deep drawers for the flat drawings. Once one has chosen what to examine further, he or she can ascend back up the stairs to the middle floor, or study lounge. With this circulatory system, the building begins to resemble a built mountain, reflecting the actual mountains across the lake. Adding to this mountain motif are the walls of which the archive is constructed; the angles of which form a mountainous landscape. These walls support the top two floors, making the visitor feel as if they are floating within the building.
Adding to this illusion is the glass roof system letting in natural light which is filtered down to the bottom level through the perforated floors. Light is reflected back up through the space using the shallow pool on the bottom floor. Rain water from the roof is drained into another pool located outside.
The promenading path up to the entrance is based on those of ancient temples like the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia. A series of ramps and stairs takes the visitor on a journey across the site while providing them with views of the mountains and lake. This route may seem extensive, but the building does not have to be the guest’s final destination. One may choose to come to the site to simply enjoy the views or relax on the deep stairs or lawns. SPRING 2015