At Villa Panza: Lights, Architecture, Action!
The Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio presented Light Theaters, a project that explores ten different avenues for the interaction between space and illumination
Villa Panza, with its 33 thousand square metres, lies on a hill, almost suspended above Varese. With every new angle of sunlight hitting the 18th-century abode throughout the day, the city gets to see a new iteration of illumination and architecture working together.
It seems fitting then, that the cultural center was the location chosen to display Light Theaters, a collaboration between the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, the Fondo Ambiente Italiano and the Martin Architecture and Design Workshop (MADWORKSHOP). Throughout six months, Academy director Riccardo Blumer worked with 21 of the institution’s students in Ticino to explore the dynamics of light and space.
The ten resulting pieces were inspired by the impossible worlds of sci-fi and the now-possible worlds of tech, but most importantly, by the surreal qualities of the Sacro Monte di Varese —located nearby but 807 metres above the ground, as close to human touch as it is heavenly far away. “We studied what light means for architecture, for the design and the shape of an object,” explained Isolde Michelazzi, one of the students who analysed how the sun hugged the creations of Giuseppe Bernascone, the mind behind the Sacro Monte chapels. Blumer’s pupils then turned this in-person research into a series of breathtaking mechanical installations powered by gusts of air, by Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope ideas, by phosphorescent paint.
The exhibition closed recently, but Blumer is bringing a selection of machines to the Venice Biennial of Architecture this year, for his participation in The Practice of Teaching.