Piazza Grande

An enormous Renaissance square that can accommodate up to 8,000 viewers every night, the Piazza is both the Festival’s heart and its showcase. 

With its giant screen, one of the biggest in the world, endowed with truly exceptional projection quality, the Piazza is one of the finest open-air screening site in Europe, with an highly sophisticated system of image and sound reproduction specifically conceived for this place, but also unveiling, with its stars’ ceiling, an unrivalled lyrical urbanity...

Classic Cinema (35mm) 
Electronic Cinema (Standard Definition Digibeta) 
Digital Cinema (High Definition DCP 2K / 4K)

Piazza Grande screening technologies

Screen dimensions : 26 x 14 m (364 m 2 ) 
Projection box — screen distance : 80 m


Classic Cinema: 35mm film 
35 mm screen ratio 1:1,37 / 1,66 / 1,85 / 2,35 
Dual projectors with change-overs 
Light output : 7,000 WATTS

Digital Cinema: High Definition DCP 2K / 4K
Electronic Cinema: Standard Definition Digibeta
Brightness : 27,000 ANSI/LUMEN

Sound (5.1)

Analog and digital sound (DOLBY - SDDS - DTS) 
Soundsystem : Active Crossovers - Multichannel with digital delays (Studio specifications)
developed specifically for the Piazza Grande, respecting mixing studios specifications

The projection booth

In 1971, architect Livio Vacchini, with support from Raimondo Rezzonico, developed the “Festival” project for Locarno’s Piazza Grande. The ensemble displayed a fine structural coherence: a screen, a projection booth and a thousand seats. An almost militant construction in its choice of materials and forms.

The original projection booth drew attention for its unconventional form, its skeleton and its roughness, due to its being made from two polyester swimming pool shells. Attracting children to play around it during the day, as soon as night falls this strange edifice starts humming with activity, and in case of sudden rain becomes an improvised shelter for members of the audience. After numerous migrations over successive editions of the Festivals this UFO on its imaginary launch pad began to shown signs of wear and tear.

In 1990 a new booth replaced the initial one, designed by architect Rolando Ulmi, who kept faith with the spirit of the original by retaining its fossil-like and aerial aspects. The booth has welcomed numerous filmmakers who climbed aboard to watch, in wonderment, as their film was projected to the audience. Among others, Youssef Chahine, Daniel Schmid, Aki Kaurismäki, Paul Schrader, Alain Tanner, Abbas Kiarostami, Paul Verhoeven, were all moved to make compliments or simply smile in complicity.

With projection systems becoming more sophisticated, a more generous and adequate space was required. With this in mind with the engineer Alessandro Bonalumi we created the 2007 version of the booth. The smooth exterior was custom built, but this more ergonomically designed booth still retains the enduring and legendary silhouette.

The Piazza Grande’s projection booth was financed by the local authorities : 
Ascona – Brissago – Brione s/Minusio – Gordola – Locarno – Losone – Minusio – Muralto – Orselina – Ronco s/Ascona – Tenero-Contra.

Patricia Boillat

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