Far from philosophical terms of beauty, the Swiss architect Livio Vacchini’s approach to architecture significantly runs counter aesthetic with his critical action toward it. Each of his designs embodying contemporary architecture is dressed eloquently with timelessness as he paid an expensive number of values to structures over form. With an extreme reduction of structural elements, his works manifest novelty even in present-day architecture. His design thinking fixates on systems and methods that recognize inner coherence between architecture and structural engineering. Subordinating the narrative of beauty to the order established by those, the ideology and philosophy of Vacchini invite us to learn from them.

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Livio Vacchini _©images.cdn.baunetz.de via Pinterest

Life in the Profession: Timelessness

“Architecture is precisely what remains of that structure despite the changes and erosion of time: it is objective, capable of transcending the personal dimension and places in a broader territory that the strict pursuit of beauty.” 

An architect whose designs stand out for their autonomy, he is renowned in the field of architecture. After completing his degree in 1958, he later worked respectively with the talented architects Luigi Snozzi and Aurelio Galfetti and debuted in the second half of the 1960s. For five years, Livio Vacchini worked with famous architect Snozzi and his team whose works served a great architectural influence for two decades. With Galfetti, he planned the center school in Losone (1973-1975), unequivocally in the period wherein an exhibit was coordinated at the Zurich Polytechnic and its index, Tendenzen. Each of his designs features a harmonious continuity to contemporary architecture from the great masters Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Louis Kahn. Displaying this inclination in his works, some of his designs like the multipurpose hall, the Aurora apartment block and service facility at Locarno, and the School of Architecture all portray an extreme reduction of structural elements. Along with his other works, these designs garnered the invaluable attention of international critics. The value of his works lies in how he laid the groundwork of architecture and structural engineering, context adaptability, and timelessness for his exquisite innovations in contemporary architecture. 

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Livio Vacchini & Luigi Snozzi project named Snider House year 1964-65 _©Daniel Tudor Munteanu via OfHouses

Ideology: Defying Beauty

“The technique and technology enable man to rise to higher and far limits, to experience the construction of spaces more precise and more exciting.” 

Critical action versus beauty became the driving tool to the designs of the architect Livio Vacchini. In his design thinking, he proposes new works by approaching architecture critically than pursuing it in philosophical terms like beauty or aesthetics. By examining how architecture is produced, he delved into the systems and methods of a project rather than took the focus on the aesthetic. In his view, the order of a building had always had to be the evident outcome of a mental endeavor–an order that finds its expression in the structure of a building. This means that the design form of a building cannot be withdrawn from the idea of its construction or the technics. It is against this method that the architect found his niche in the profession. His way of interpreting, clarifying, and transforming reality through architectural form serves as a pedagogical approach to architecture. Loudly stressing out his ideology, an active dialogue between architecture and structural engineering becomes his groundwork in the field. Through this, his works are characterized for their evocative architecture, timelessness, and geographically dispersed, manifesting their unique beauty. 

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Switzerland Apartment and Office Building Casa Alfredo, 1984 – 1986 _©www.archipicture.eu – Livio Vacchini – Casa Alfredo Dietlikon

Philosophy: Critical Action

“There is no beauty; there is totality, emotion, wit, madness, precision, monstrosity, horror.”

Preferring gravity to lightness, Livio Vacchini is an architect who resists the mainstream and puts a high premium on the structures over form. Whose work never searched aesthetic, he sees that there is no beauty. Rather, he perceives that there is totality, emotion, wit, madness, precision, monstrosity, and horror. With his interest in concepts, methods, instruments, and paths, and what has been achieved with all of these, he understood architecture as a formal system–one of which that digs deeper into internal coherence and surpasses beauty. Defying timelessness, Vacchini responds to the problems around function, location, and construction not by beautifying his work but by harmonizing the wrestling problems associated with it. Discovering the lost and revealing the deep relationships of the element of great architecture, Livio Vacchini proposed new works with his philosophy to produce a critical action. 

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Losone 1990-97 _©Opere e progetti; Livio Vacchini via Livio Vacchini > Palestra polivalente | HIC Arquitectura

Livio Vacchini: Ideology and Philosophy

Taking the focus out of beauty, Vacchini genuinely proposed priceless works of architecture melded with his ideology and philosophy. Looking at how his ideology of a functioning exchange between architecture and structural engineering, his expression of a structure becomes imbued with “lack of timeliness”. Through this, his works are exemplified for their remarkable architecture, immortality, and context adaptability no matter where it is situated. Challenging agelessness, Vacchini’s philosophy of critical action significantly pervaded his proposed works. Learning from these, his ideology and philosophy truly give life to a structure with its magnificent beauty.


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Electa. 2021. Livio Vacchini – Electa. [online] Available at: <https://www.electa.it/en/product/livio-vacchini/> [Accessed 17 October 2021].

Floornature.com. 2021. La Ferriera Locarno Livio Vacchini 2003 | Floornature. [online] Available at: <https://www.floornature.com/la-ferriera-locarno-livio-vacchini-2003-4767/> [Accessed 17 October 2021].

Kotnik, T., 2021. Livio Vacchini and the Problem of the Corner. [online] Aalto University’s research portal. Available at: <https://research.aalto.fi/en/publications/livio-vacchini-and-the-problem-of-the-corner> [Accessed 17 October 2021].

Masiero, R., 2021. Livio Vacchini. [online] Dialnet. Available at: <https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/libro?codigo=306265> [Accessed 17 October 2021].


Russel is an essayist, neuroscience enthusiast and architecture student who stands amazed by how the distinct disciplines interweave into a harmonious whole if understood correctly. She strives to harness what is in store of these into functional built environments inspired by narratives and informed by neuroscience.

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