The Next Fun

If someone talks about Campione d'Italia, one cannot fail to mention its Casino. During World War I it was exceptionally decided to open a gambling house in the Italian enclave, which served as a cover for espionage activities. The war ends but the Casino remains, gaining more and more importance for the identity and economy of the village. Campione d'Italia becomes the richest municipality in Italy. On the wave of this success, archistar Mario Botta is commissioned to build the "Largest Casino in Europe”. In 2007 the building, costing 190 million euros and with an area of 55,000 m2, is inaugurated.

The new casino does not attract the hoped-for audience, and in 2018 the gambling house goes bankrupt. The municipality of Campione d'Italia, overwhelmed by the casino's debts, is forced to sell several buildings and fire its employees. With no money to invest and an immense empty building, how can Campione d'Italia recover from its fate? Read more

Addressing this challenging situation requires a profound reflection on its own narrative. The community of Campione d'Italia must reevaluate its past in order to regain an identity that will allow it to have a future.

Upon scrutinising its heritage, Campione can discover a legacy of nurturing artistic talent across centuries. This trait has been obscured in modern time by a lack of institutional recognition. The people of Campione should return to giving importance to art.

Art is a practice that enjoys freedom and easily questions the meaning of things. Through art, citizens can envision a new purpose for the casino. The transformation of the building, being giant in size, can only take place through a collective process.

Spearheading this initiative, the three of us, propose an initial intervention, advocating for the casino's reclamation through simple, cost-effective measures executed by ordinary citizens. Departing from institutional norms, this approach echoes the artistic practices of the 1970s.

In the central volume of the building we propose the perforation of the floors to create a hole, to which a scaffolding staircase is then added. Debris from the destruction of the floors are deposited on the ground floor, showcasing the new identity and the meaning of re-use. The hole generates a new circulation and order in the space by highlighting the volumetric composition of the building. The central volume becomes a public space, while the volumes on the sides serve as work areas (semi-private) and the outer ones as living spaces (private).

The intervention challenges contemporary architectural practices through a rough design that questions the concept of functionality. The act of transformation rejects architectural details and finishes but calls for collective participation. It proposes a fun, immediate and inexpensive way of working that educates local people in the concept of resilience. In this way citizens of Campione are empowered: over time they will modify the spaces, contributing to the management and occupation of the building. The uniqueness of the result compared to its regional context we believe can generate interest, attracting people and revitalising the local economy. Read less

Campione d'Italia
Eduardo Cavalcanti, Elyas Lunardi, Vasco Medici
Arno Brandlhuber, Bing Liu, Giacomo Ardesio, Jolene Lee, Meghan Rolvien, Severin Bärenbold, Olaf Grawert, Pan Hu