The Archivio del Moderno, constituted as a foundation in 2004 by an act of the Università della Svizzera italiana, was created and has been directed since 1996 by Letizia Tedeschi as an archive and research institute. It was therefore founded at the same time as the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture and, in synergy with the Academy itself, its activities have expanded the contribution of knowledge and valorization of the historical, modern and contemporary debate centred on Italian, Swiss and international architectural culture, its past and present scenarios.
On the historical front, the work of the Archivio is devoted, on the one hand, to the philosophical century and what is termed the “neoclassical” age, and on the other to the twentieth century, with particular reference to the post-war period, but without neglecting complex contemporary developments.
It also conducts studies of the significance of archival documents in sharpening the focus on the genesis of projects and analyses the changing face of the architectural profession, the contribution of the history of technology, of encounters with the arts or specific disciplinary fields such as applied design, of repeated cultural transfers (classical antiquity in the case of the neoclassical period, and the “synthesis of the arts” in the case of the twentieth century), of diversified ties with local territories and the sense of belonging that may arise in relation to the contributions made by architects and craftsmen from Ticino to the history of architecture, of the changes in training to the ever new narrations in the sector, and of other developments that are forming the platform on which to launch new paradigms of critical interpretations in response to the contemporary debate.
Within the framework of national and international research projects, the Archivio is a signatory to numerous conventions and research agreements with universities, museums and other institutions, creating a network of transnational relationships. Particularly noteworthy is the agreement for scientific cooperation with the Ministry of the Heritage and Culture of the Italian Republic, which was renewed on 11 July 2012 at the Swiss Embassy in Rome. This is the basis of its participation in the Ministerial Committee for the National Archival System focused on the archives of the architects and engineers of the Italian culture and the Web Portals of Architects. It is a member of the ICAM (International Confederation of Architectural Museums), AABAS (Association of Swiss Archives and Libraries of Architecture), ACD (Association of the Swiss Archivists).
It preserves more than 50 archives of architects, engineers, urban planners, designers and visual operators, who have played a significant role in the development of modernity, a heritage that is constantly being updated by a planned implementation of the collections, which are ordered, inventoried and catalogued by a range of different systems and are also the subject of a specific constant valorization.