Autosilo Balestra may look like a weather-beaten erratic block, but this bold relict of the car age is here to stay
Designed by Carlo Cesarini, Autosilo Balestra is a brutalist (or ‘nudi et crudi’, as they say in Italian) multi-storey car park and mini shopping centre situated 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 sharp relief. Autosilo Balestra may look like a weather-beaten erratic block left behind from the car age, but that’s ok: not having suffered from any regeneration efforts, the complex offers a rare, authentic glimpse into the car-centred shopping-experience in Lugano ca. 1978. If you ever fancy taking a trip down a well-preserved Swiss shopping mall from the late seventies and finish off with an espresso in the snack bar before hailing a postbus in the dingy subterranean terminus – welcome to your dream destination.
In 2011 a driver managed to smash his Ford Mustang through the massive concrete walls on the third floor. Following a Hollywood-worthy 15 metre fall, the Mustang crash-landed on the scooter parking area. Although the car ended up as a complete write-off and three scooters got flattened by chunks of concrete in collateral damage, the 24-year-old driver got away with only minor injuries.