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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.
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.