Il Piccolo Blog

Mario Botta, from Ticino to the… world. The architect who loves stone

Mario Botta is the best-known architect in Ticino

If you say Mario Botta, you say architecture in Ticino. Mario Botta is undoubtedly the best known and one of the most prestigious architects in Italian-speaking Switzerland, known the world over for his works, executed near and far from home, from the corners of Ticino to China.

Mario Botta’s sixteen churches, from Vallemaggia to the Chinese mosque

Mario Botta likes to think and design different buildings. His curriculum vitae includes sixteen churches, scattered throughout Europe, born of his ingenuity, from France to his native Ticino, from a Chinese mosque to a synagogue in Tel Aviv. One of the most recent and best known at our latitudes is the Fiore di Pietra on Monte Generoso, for which he also designed the main building.

Mario Botta’s favourite material is stone, and the Fiore di Pietra fits perfectly into this tradition. For example, the first church he created, San Giovanni a Mogno in Vallemaggia, was already made of stone, and Mario Botta chose the same material for the Austrian Cappella Granato, which takes its name from the particular stone that covers it.

Mario Botta’s beginnings and awards

Mario Botta was born in Mendrisio in 1943 and graduated in Venice. His first studio was in Lugano, then he moved it to Mendrisio, where he currently lives and works. His beginnings were characterised by references to Le Corbusier, Carlo Scarpa, Aldo Rossi and Luis Kahn, and he then developed his inimitable and characteristic style that plays with pure volumes often interlocked with each other. He has won numerous awards in his career, including the European Prize for Culture in 1995, the Merit Award for Excellence in Design by the AIA and the Legion of Honour of the French Republic.

In addition to stone, Mario Botta often uses terracotta and many of his buildings of all kinds are red.

Mario Botta’s museums: square and imposing, they stand out

The choice of clear, square volumes and imposing dimensions can be seen in many of his most important creations, which also span the world of culture. Botta designed the prestigious MOMA in San Francisco (for which he won the Merit Award). It is a building with imposing brick steps, which gives a deep feeling of anchorage to the ground, in an environment where there are many skyscrapers. The special feature is the cylinder-shaped skylight, which faces the city. Mario Botta has also worked on the museum in Charlotte, which looks like a monolith in which the empty spaces become urban spaces, created by the cylinder-shaped volume, and on the one in Beijing, which uses pink granite and is formed by an elongated parallelepiped.

Mario Botta’s role at the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio

In addition to his copious and prestigious production, Mario Botta has made a name for himself for the research that has accompanied his work from the very beginning and which, as his fame has grown, has led him to hold lectures and conferences everywhere. He is also a lecturer at the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio, a project he helped to found. But he has also taught for many years at the Lausanne Polytechnic and at the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, as well as being a full professor at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne in Switzerland. Mario Botta is a member of the Swiss Federal Commission of Fine Arts.

In short, when one speaks of Mario Botta, one is dealing with an architect who lends value to Ticino and who has certainly made an important contribution to the development of the Academy of Architecture with his fame and skills.

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