If you ever fancy taking a trip down a provincial shopping mall in early seventies Switzerland, complete with dingy subterranean PostBus terminus and a stopover in a tearoom – welcome to your dream destination.
Autosilo Balestra is a brutalist multi-storey car park and mini shopping
centre in Lugano’s financial district. Its fortress-style build and zigzag lines cutting into the sky like saw blades, throw the sleek and shiny postmodernist neighbours, most of them designed or inspired by Mario Botta, into extra sharp relief. As it has not suffered from any kind of regeneration plan, the centre offers a rare opportunity to experience a fully-functioning piece of late 60s – early 70s Switzerland. Balestra may look like a weather-beaten erratic block, but this bold relict of car age shopping is here to stay.
It can certainly still produce headline gold: In 2011 a Ford Mustang smashed through the massive concrete walls on the third floor, killing three scooters after a Hollywood-worthy 15 metre fall (nobody got hurt). Despite Autosilo’s high vis cult status, next to nothing is known about its creation. Even the municipal building department’s own records say: architect unknown. Any concrete hints?