The Industrial Companies of Mendrisio have built a reservoir for drinking water in the woods, in Arzo, above the building of the “La Perfetta” Green School owned by the Municipality of Chiasso. The building is in exposed reinforced concrete, has a square plan of 16×16, h 5 meters, and is partially buried in the slope. The “enrico sassi architetto” studio oversaw the arrangement of the exteriors.

The property has a covered outdoor area which leads to the technical room and the two tanks for storing drinking water. The material produced by the excavation for the construction of the reservoir (approx. 1500 m2) consists of boulders of different sizes and gravel (split limestone) of a beautiful light-yellow color. All the material produced by the excavation was reused for the arrangement of the exteriors.

The project deals with three themes: the entrance area to the reservoir, the layout of the roof and the layout of the slope.

In the entrance area, the concrete wall that appears to those who climb the path has been covered with blocks of Arzo marble.

The reservoir lid is compulsorily equipped with 8 attachment points for the rescue line, the columns are lined with red plastic. These highly visible and disturbing elements were used as textures for the composition of a mineral landscape. The roof was in fact decorated with stones arranged as if it were a Japanese Zen garden.

Going down the path and passing the tank, you have a view of the composition that completely encompasses and hides the technical bodies without giving the impression of obeying the regular rhythm of the lifesaving line hooks.

For the layout of the exterior it’s been used the excavated material to integrate the volume of the building into the mountain slope. The most valuable boulders were selected and then positioned to form a long line on the ridge that delimits the path.

A regular grid with staggered rows was created with the other boulders. As you ascend the path to the reservoir, various dynamic alignments are formed that guide the eye. This grid also acts as a deterrent to the parking of mechanical vehicles.

Project details

Design: Enrico Sassi Architetto
Project Location: Arzo, Mendrisio, Switzerland
Typology: Dry garden
Built: 2020-2022
Client: Aziende Industriali di Mendrisio AIM
Collaborators: Alessandro Armellini
Civil engineer: Holinger SA Mendrisio Besazio
Contractor: Implenia AG
Marble supplier: Patriziato di Arzo
Marble cutter: MB cave marmo di Arzo Sagl
Potabilization consultancy: Tibio Sagl
Remote management: Rittmeyer AG
Drinking water plant: Membratec
Photographs: © Marcelo Villada Ortiz

Enrico Sassi Architetto

Enrico Sassi Architetto

Graduated from the IUAV University of Venice (1993). He carries out professional and teaching activities. Former coordinator of the “Laboratorio Ticino” USI Academy of Architecture, Mendrisio. Former professor of “Urban Design” at the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio; was editor of the Swiss architecture and urban planning magazine “archi”, official organ of SIA, OTIA. Since 2012 he has been the owner of the architecture studio “enrico sassi architetto sagl” in Lugano.