Monte Verità is situated in a wonderful natural setting on a high hill overlooking Lake Maggiore, in Ascona (Switzerland).. Monte Verità was given its name at the beginning of this century when the hill was first inhabited by a community of people looking for an alternative, new and more healthy way of life: vegetarians, nudists, living in close contact with nature, building their huts and houses with their own hands while dreaming of a better peaceful future. The community, its discussion evenings, its concerts and performances, became a curiosity not only for people living in nearby Ascona but also for travelers from many European countries who began visiting this unusual setting. Harald Szeeman has collected for the Monte Verità museum a wealth of documents – pictures, books, posters, writings, objects – documenting the community and its notable visitors such as Otto Gross, Rudolf Steiner, Krishnamurti, Isadora Duncan, Herman Hesse. In this fascinating collection there are documents discussing the special earth
magnetism of the region (!) – which perhaps helps understand why so many elevated spirits gathered and become inspired here. The community split up before the First World war but as well as the physical traces something of the spirit of the times have remained. Monte Verità is a mythical place of our century’s early utopia. On the hill in 1928 a sanatorium was built which was converted into a hotel and is now a conference center totally respecting the building’s original characteristics. Conceived by Emil Fahrenkamp the building is a thoughtful expression of the rationalist movement. The annual Architecture & Behaviour Colloquiums are intentionally ‘small scale’ to give participants a chance to feel the spirit of the place and to meet with each other to discuss issues outside the formal sessions.