Mario Botta was born in Mendrisio, Ticino, on April 1, 1943. After an apprenticeship in Lugano, he first attended the Art College in Milan and then studied at the University Institute of Architecture in Venice. Directed by Carlo Scarpa and Giuseppe Mazzariol he received his professional degree in 1969. During his time in Venice he had the opportunity to meet and work for Le Corbusier and Louis I. Kahn. His professional activity began in 1970 in Lugano and since then he has carried out an intense teaching activity with lectures, seminars and courses in many schools of architecture of Europe, Asia, the United States and Latin America. From the single-family houses in Ticino his work has comprised many other building typologies such as: schools, banks, administration buildings, libraries, museums and sacred buildings. His work is recognized worldwide and has been presented in many exhibitions. Honorary member of many cultural institutions, he was awarded the honorary degree in different universities of Argentina, Greek, Rumania, Bulgaria, Brazil and Switzerland. A further instrument for the promotion of the cultural debate on architecture is the Theatre of architecture in Mendrisio, that started its activity in October 2018.
HIGHLIGHT: MARIO BOTTA
MOMA – Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco / United States / 1995
The museum is in the Yerba Buena district with the city skyscrapers in the background. In contrast with the vertical tension of this latter, the MOMA seems anchored to the ground. Its orthogonal volume, formed by a steel structure covered with brick clad prefabricated elements, expands horizontally. The impressive skylight in the shape of a truncated cylinder becomes an ‘eye’ towards the city and illuminates the lobby beneath. The museum develops on five floors above ground and a basement. On the ground floor there is a big internal square with a library, a cafeteria and an auditorium while the exhibition spaces are on the four upper floors.
MART museum of modern & contemporary
Rovereto / Italy / 1988-2002
The impressive mass of the museum is not revealed at first sight but remains partially hidden underground. The project follows an axial composition and is organized along the lane between two historical buildings. The lane leads to the circular plaza, covered by a glass domo, around which all the activities are arranged. The spacious plaza gives access to the museum. The large exhibition rooms are located on the first level, while the second floor houses smaller exhibition spaces. Circulation through the galleries on the two upper floors takes place around the central courtyard, while staircases occupy the end corners of a square that is formed around it. Light comes from above through a series of skylights.
Wellness centre Tschuggen Berg Oase
Arosa / Switzerland / 2006
The choice to place most of the building underground was a way to reduce the surface above ground in order to preserve an extraordinary part of the landscape and to establish a respectful relationship with the nearby village. Nine big skylights made of titan-zinc and glass emerge from the ground and represent the only signs of the hypogeal construction. The wellness centre spreads over four levels visually linked to each other. On the first level (corresponding to the ground floor of the hotel) there are the fitness facilities, the technical rooms and the entry for the external guests; on the second level the cabins for beauty treatment. The third level represents the entrance level connected to the hotel via a glass bridge. Here there are the reception, the cloakrooms for the guests and the so called “sauna world”. The fourth level houses the water world”. The exterior sauna, solarium and swimming pool are on a big terracing in direct relationship with nature.
Campari area, Sesto San Giovanni
Milan / Italy / 2009-2010
The redevelopment of the ex-Campari area consists of an office building along Via Gramsci and Via Sacchetti and of residential complex along Via Campari so to free the rest of the area that will be equipped as a big park for the city of Sesto San Giovanni. The new Campari headquarters is huge and organized in two main volumes linked to each other. The former has nine floors above ground and two floors underground while the latter, in the shape of a bridge, has two floors above ground and two underground. The construction is completed by an old industrial building dating back to the beginning of the last century and now transformed into a museum, and by the lobby: a big covered square in the direction of the park.The residences are divided in four towers in the shape of quarters of circle, of different heights and clad in red bricks. They comprise 100 apartments and some commercial facilities on the ground floor.
Fiore di pietra
Rovio / Switzerland / 2017
The new restaurant on the top of Monte Generoso graces the spot where an early twentiethcentury hotel once stood. The location is extraordinary: a small plateau overlooking the precipice on the north side of the mountain, characterised by a mighty rock with a steep 300-400 metre drop. The impressive rock formation was the deciding factor for creating the “stone flower” – an octagonal building with individual “petals”. On the east front this circular crown provides the space for an observation deck that follows the ridge of the mountain.
Religious architecture is a typology that Botta has continued to return to. His very first architectural project was a chapel at the Bigorio Capuchin monastery in Ticino, Switzerland, built in 1966, and since then, he has completed 22 spiritual buildings over his 50 year career. Here we represent you some of them.
While each is unique, his religious buildings hold certain stylistic similarities. Botta plays with heaviness (and lightness) using materials to create experiences of contrast – forming finite and infinite sensations. Daylight and shadows are highly controlled, as well as the human pathway through the architecture, tempered by walls, transparency, paths and thresholds. The experience is a shifting journey between states of compression and expression.
The geographical spread of Botta’s spiritual spaces is broad. His chapels can be found across Europe, in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. Botta’s religious buildings often appear like objects in the landscape, like geometric charms or symbols cut out of natural materials.