From Industrialization to Urbanization


Based on historical and contemporary maps of the once ceramic town Laveno Mombello, part of the former ceramic-related plants(e.g.,Ceramica Lago and Molini Boesio) have already been transformed into urban areas.

According to historical maps of Laveno Mombello, the other three pieces of former Potteries have already been transformed into urban areas. What should Ceramica Ponte, the most significant yet not urbanized industrial archeology of Laveno Mombello be like? 

A possible answer is an ongoing open urban system and an interactive architectural solution. It functions as an urban experiment during the process of urbanization in the whole area, rather than a fixed conclusion.


The Urban and the Green


Nestled to the south of the Lake Maggiore pier and the active town center, and to the north of the natural green, the site offers the potential to be a transition/mediation between both characters. Well connected by the train station, and within walking distance to the town center and residential neighborhood, the northern part serves as an extension of the urban sphere; while the southern part functions as a lush open air garden containing camping area.




To fully open up the currently isolated site, access will
be from four directions: the north access serves mainly
for the pedestrians from Lake Maggiore and town center,
with the heritage building being preserved as a tourist
center and historical museum; the north-west access
opens to the residential neighborhoods and connects
them directly with the school; the south-west access
connects the camping area in the garden; the new main
access is in front of the train station. Four accesses
together with the two diagonal ways, form an efficient
circulation system and provide the playground with a
flexible network of accessibility.


An Open-ended Toy Assemble


According to Michel Foucault, Modern institutions required that bodies must be individuated according to their tasks, as well as for training, observation, and control. Therefore, he argues, that discipline created a whole new form of individuality for bodies, which enabled them to perform their duty within the new forms of economic, political, and military organizations emerging in the modern age and continuing to today.

The project provides us a chance to challenge those two questions :

_How to create a contemporary educational institution without setting formal disciplines and
_How to build up an open and ongoing system of adventures for kids rather than giving them an
overdesigned and already finished architecture?


Our Kids’ Factory is full of toys, each of which can be closed or opened, rotated or moved, thus providing kids as well as adults a personal and unique spatial experience to the maximum. Ultimately, the factory itself is a big toy: “every space can be something else; every place can be somewhere else.” And the designers of these toys are not architects, but the users.

With a light intervention solution (all the current architectural structures are kept as a holistic framework), this proposal offers more possibilities for the site to be constantly discussed, designed and affected. Always uncompleted, never ending, and going on and on.




The new urban intervention includes mainly four different functional parts :
_Entrance building as service center for tourists and all other users ;
_The three-storey industrial building in the west as new school and research center, used by the residents of Laveno Mombello and the surrounding area, also by the firms and associations related to childhood education and products;
_The main one-storey warehouse area in the middle is now transformed into diverse multifunctional playgrounds, divided by the two diagonal ways into three secondary categories : Sport Facilities , Playground, and Pet Center;
_The southern part is the camping area within a garden, providing beds, roomy dining area and little green houses.


Horizontally, the running track forms a full circle, holding all those four functional parts together, and connecting directly to all the entrances.

Vertically, a network of stairs and slides placed outside of the school forms an infrastructural façade. The boundary between indoor and outdoor is blurred: kids can choose wherever as the starting point to begin the exploration, and there is a tailored adventure behind each little door.
Around the site, the former fence wall is transformed into a soft boundary, creating a better relationship between the Toy Factory and the town: the tree fence encloses the camping area and the garden; being extended to the north and scattered along the street in front of the main station, it becomes a dynamic skate park; around the northern entrance, it becomes even more urbanized, new cafés and restaurants are inserted to serve the citizens
and tourists; along the western border, the height of wall is cut off and promoting a cozy atmosphere towards residents.


The spatial core of the school is a three-storey high courtyard, around which a loop circulation is provided. Walking around the courtyard, kids can always observe other activities going on, and be inspired, motivated and >interact with others.

Along the western façade, the relatively regular spaces are programmed as classrooms and lecture halls. Along the eastern façade there are those diverse multifunctional boxes, connecting each other. The interesting geometric forms will encourage children to explore more potential possibilities of use : a secret reading corner, a transparent dancing room, or a dark sleeping slope.


The urban is encounter.

In this proposal, the Toy Factory fully connects itself to the city, creates more possibilities of interactive architectural situations, and inspires all the users not only kids to always explore new routes and meet new people.

During this process of playing “ Toys”, a never ending design system is built up and will be continued in the future.



Young Architects Competition / Kids’ Factory

_Finalist Mention



Shiqing Liu, Nan Liu, Xi Wu