IRB – Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Via Vela 6, Bellinzona – CH

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Irb2 laboratory, P3 animal house, Institute for Research in Biomedicine Via Vela 6, Bellinzona – CH
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Fondation IRB* Bellinzona, canton of Tessin, Helvetia Patria Assurances, Basel



(in collaboration with L. Snozzi, Locarno)

Institute for Research in Biomedicine

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine was built from scratch on the initiative of the IRB Foundation, the support of the city of Bellinzona, the Université de la Suisse Italienne (USI) and the Horten Foundation.

The building was designed as an administrative building in 1963 by architects L. Snozzi and L. Vacchini.

To meet the demands of a state of the art research laboratory, we restructured it extensively and raised it by one floor. The specifications and the choice of technical equipment are the result of close collaboration with IRB researchers and draw on architect Dimitri Papadaniel's experience.

This complex architectural and technical intervention respected the building and its rules of composition.

It is organised around a central atrium that stretches the whole height of the building. On every floor, gangways lead to the laboratories.

The bearing structure is in steel and refers to Mies van der Rohe. The façades, in metal and glass, broken up into 60 cm modules define its spirited rhythm.

The insertion of the laboratories requires a high level of security and demands advanced technology.

Because the size of the premises is so limited, space-saving solutions that avoid cramming and preserve the transparency of spaces had to be found.

To reduce the vertical ventilation shafts, an extra floor was added to house the central air-handling units. The intervention simultaneously improved the quality of the overhead natural light in the Atrium.

The air-handling units (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, humidification) were designed in separate circuits to provide the different categories of laboratories and sectors an independent air-flow to guarantee against contamination.

The IRB Institute comprises: protection (P2 level), radioactivity (C & B levels) and diagnosis laboratories, sterile laboratories, biohazard laboratories (P3 level), two animal houses (P3 level) with autoclaves and high security washing stations, laboratory gas supply systems, a laboratory liquid nitrogen generator, cold rooms, hot chambers, washing and sterilization station research premises with F.A.C.S. equipment, administrative premises, a library, conference rooms, a refectory, a cafeteria etc.

Total area of laboratories: 2,500m2

*IRB Foundation board:
Prof. G. Noseda, président (President of the Swiss League Against Cancer),
Prof. M. Baggiolini (President of the Université of Tessin),
Prof. F. Cavalli oncologist,
Avv. Dick Marti (Swiss National Senator),
Prof. J. Cl. Pifaretti, with Dr M.G. Uguccioni represented the foundation for the planning and the construction of the IRB).
Scientific Director:
Prof. Antonio Lanzavecchia
(collaborators: G. Mazzi and L. Maggini architects)