The upgrade and expansion of the early 19th-century Villa Costanza Park in Lugano is an environmentally-friendly green space and a neighbourhood gathering space. Cherished by the local residents – who actively participated in the planning and renovation process – the public park contains diverse spaces dedicated to people of all ages and backgrounds who meet here.

The challenge of expanding a traditional villa garden without losing its stately character is addressed through a series of spatial strategies that unify the larger public park. The restoration of the historic parts of the garden included a careful conservation of the imposing existing trees and architectural elements, while introducing a contemporary and sustainable approach that runs throughout the park. An accessible winding path runs through the whole space and connects all the park entrances, overcoming the natural grade drop. The repeated presence of designed features signals a recognisable material palette and helps people to feel immersed in a leisurely urban environment.

Natural wood, hand-made bricks and coloured concrete are used as the main construction materials for all architectural and furniture elements of the park. All paths are made of draining crushed stone, a pink granite traditionally quarried in the region. Stormwater drainage systems are entirely above ground with raingardens and planted swales that allow retention and natural infiltration of rainwater.

Turf areas are reduced to a minimum, designed only where active play and events happen. The majority of the park is densely planted with climate-adapted trees, shrubs and ground cover plants, so as to reduce costly management and avoid irrigation. A significant portion of the new section of the park is seeded with a locally-sourced flowering meadow, which promotes increased biodiversity in an urban context.

A new oval brick fountain marks the entrance in the upper part of the park by the villa. The inside of this fountain is lined with handmade ceramic tiles, produced by a local inclusive association for the employment of people with disabilities. The tiles contain impressions of fern leaves, ammonites, and fossils that relate to the important prehistoric past of the area. This theme is also extended just below the fountain, in an area of the park where prehistoric plants such as metasequoias, ginkgos and magnolias have been planted alongside decaying felled trunks overgrown with ferns. Adjacent to this area is an informal open-air theatre space built with wide brick steps facing a stage for concerts and public events. The theatre is enclosed on two sides by a long clipped hornbeam hedge, wide enough to walk through it, which takes strollers to the playground area and provides a safe habitat for birds and wildlife throughout the seasons.

In the lower part of the park are two large areas dedicated to urban neighbourhood gardens, custom-designed with beds for growing vegetables, crates and lockers for tool storage. Between the two vegetable garden areas is a large public pergola, with tables and benches made from salvaged logs from the city’s warehouses. Farther down is a public square with nebuliser fountains for playful cooling and countering the urban heat island effect. Ultimately, alongside its social and environmental benefits, fountains are present in various forms within the public park as a cheerful celebration of water in urban settings.

Location: Via Pedemonte 31, 6962 Lugano

Design year: 2020

Year Completed: 2022


LILA 2024 Sponsor