The Library - About

The Library of the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture has one of the largest holdings of the history of architecture and art in Switzerland. Its importance is now recognized internationally thanks to its continuously updated documentary holdings and the bibliographic rarities it possesses, particularly in the fields of the art and architecture of the Ticino, the neighboring regions and the Mediterranean area.

The Library is notable primarily for its rich bibliographic collections in the fields of history of architecture, visual culture and the arts in general, including the theatrical and performing arts. Together with these core holdings, it is also building up a new collection of texts and publications devoted to traditional, vernacular and popular architecture worldwide. By conducting research and acquiring historical and critical studies, scholarly texts dealing with urban history, photographic and illustrated books, sociological, ethnological and anthropological analyses, it increasingly documents experiences in primitive and historical self-build, as well as the growing experiments by which architectural culture makes its contributions to spontaneous and social architecture. To supplement these new lines of research, it has begun acquiring texts that extend to scientific issues, such as vegetable architecture, plant morphogenesis, bionics and biomechanics.

Particular attention is paid to publications dealing with the spillover into design of developments in technology and ecology. To complement the already extensive collection on the history of construction techniques, the library is expanding the bibliographic sectors specially devoted to technological developments in the Modern Movement, which are further documented by a very substantial catalogue of monographs and the massive transformations of the territory and landscape induced by modernity.

As a stimulus to reflection on architecture as a work of artistic creativity, there are also numerous titles dealing with the theory and philosophy of art, aesthetics and the critical debate. Finally the library has a very rich collection of iconographic materials, typological compendia and technical manuals, which are extremely useful in the training of young architects.

The Library is a member of the Servizio Bibliotecario Universitario (Sbu) and is affiliated with the Sistema Bibliotecario Ticinese (SBT). Since 2011 it has also been a member of Art Discovery Group Catalogue, an international catalogue of history of art and architecture that combines the library holdings of the most prestigious museums and libraries of art and architecture worldwide. Located next to Palazzo Turconi, the library is housed in a building designed by Mario Botta and Aurelio Galfetti as a multipurpose lecture theatre and was adapted to its new function by the architect Peter Disch. It contains and makes available for reference some 160'000 monographic volumes and over 600 specialist journals dealing with art, architecture, urban planning and related disciplines. It also receives more than 6'000 periodicals in electronic format.

The Library contains the book holdings of: Pietro Bianchi, Agostino Bottinelli, André Corboz, the Fortini family, Christoph Frank, Enzo Frateili, Georg Germann, Jacques Gubler, Augusto Guidini father and son, L'Archivolto bookshop, Gino and Gianna Macconi, Americo Marazzi, Luigi Nessi, Carlo Gastone Della Torre di Rezzonico, Augusto Rima, Sergio Steffen, Emmanuel Stickelberger, Fritz Stuber, Virgilio Vercelloni, Stanislaus von Moos, Luigi Zaretti.

The library ensures access to numerous online databases, such as: Avery index to architectural periodicals, Bibliography of the history of art, RSWB plus, Wilson Art Fulltext, JSTOR, Design and Applied Arts Index (DAAI), Artprice.com. Complementing the bibliographic databases, also available are digital image libraries, which include: ARTStor, Art Museum Image Gallery, Prometheus.

Access to the Library and the services it offers are free. They are available to faculty members, staff and students of the Academy as well as members of the public. In the reading room there are 80 study stations. There are 8 PC stations: 4 are reserved for bibliographical research and 4 allow free access to the Internet.

Books, journals and documentary materials, except for those held in storage, are displayed on the open shelves: the reader can access them individually, to consult in the library or to request on loan. Readers may also apply to other libraries, in Switzerland or abroad, for items or photocopies of articles not available in the library.

The Library staff provide guidance and assistance with bibliographic research and general library use.
  • Head
    • Angela Windholz
  • Operative manager
    • Francesca
  • Cataloguing
    • Debora De Carli
    • Michele Mogliazzi
    • Fiorenza Moretti
  • Circulation services, ILL
    • Nadir Marcon
  • Serials
    • Daniela Costarelli
  • SLSP project
    • Sabina Walder
  • Special collections
    • Elisabetta Zonca
  • Acquisitions and web services
    • Silvio Bindella
    • Monica Soldati