Mario Botta is celebrated contemporary Swiss architect, best known from manipulating the cultural and natural elements of a landscape to create a breathtakingly beautiful sight. Most of his work has been located around the region of Lugano, in Switzerland, yet largely influenced by Italian culture. The natural setting of this region has inspired Botta’s aesthetic sense and creativity. He states that the region has inspired in him “a love for one’s own habitat, in a constructive tradition which is extremely rigorous and closely fitted to the minimal conditions and demands of living”.
Mario Botta was born on April 1, 1943 in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He received his early education at Genestrerio and later attended the Mendrisio for his secondary education. As a child, Botta detested having to go to school, and at the age of 15, he decided to quit school and work as a draftsman in the architectural studio of Carloni and Camenish, in Lugano, Switzerland. Working for these notable architects enhanced and developed Botta’s artistic abilities, and he perfected his natural talent for drawing. Upon the completion of three years of working as a draftsman, Botta was given his first major design assignment. He was placed in charge of the design for a new complex, which was to replace the parish house of Genestrerio.
In 1965, Botta enrolled himself at the Istituto Universitario di Architecttura in Venice, and graduated with a degree in architecture. During this period, he encountered the esteemed architects, Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn, and he began working with them. These two masters had a profound impact in influencing his aesthetic sense, and determining his artistic orientation. His architectural vocabulary matured, and he began designing pure geometric forms.
In 1970, he returned to his native country, and established his own practice in Lugano. He began a lucrative career, designing highly acclaimed, remarkable works of architecture which reflected as profound expressions of human memory. Brick emerged as a crucial material in his works, used to cover the residual severity of his designs. Each and every project by Botta is marked by a cloak of sacred spirituality that serves to celebrate the sanctity of architectural art. Some of his highly applauded and praised projects include the Capuchin convent in Lugano, the Craft Centre in Balerna, the Administration Building for the Staatsbank in Fribourg, and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, California
As his fame began to spread, Botta started travelling extensively, to Italy and abroad, to conduct research, lectures, seminars, courses and conferences. He has served as a guest professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale EPFL in Lausanne and Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut. He had also served as a chair at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne.
In 1996, he began teaching at the recently opened Universita della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, he later served as the Dean of the institution, and was also responsible for initiating the programme for the new Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio-Ticino. Botta is an esteemed and prominent member of numerous architectural academies and institutes including the BDA-Bund Deutscher Architekten, AIA-American Institute of Architects, Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) in London, and the International Academy of Architecture in Sofia among many others.
Mario Botta has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including, the Chicago Architecture Award, the CICA – International Committee of Architectural Critics, the International Biennial of Architecture in Buenos Aires, the European Award for Culture in Karlsruhe, and Premio Letterario Internazionale Alessandro Manzoni awarded by the City of Lecco in Italy, for “life-long achievement”.
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