Residential complex in Novazzano Switzerland

Mario Botta

‘Architecture transforms a state of nature to a state of culture’

Swiss Architect Mario Botha was born in 1943 in Mendrisio. The 15-year-old Mario Botta didn’t see a point in remaining in school, so he simply left and unsure of what he wanted to do, was offered the chance to become an apprentice draftsman with Lugano architects, Carloni and Camenisch. By the time he had completed his three-year apprenticeship he was clear and focused, he wanted to become an architect. He returned to school to complete his studies and then on to the School of Architecture at the Università luav di Venezia, IUAV, graduating in 1969. He was taught by Carlo Scarpa who also supervised his thesis.

Mario Botta was determined to take maximum advantage of the fact that two star-architects, Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn happened to be in Venice whilst he was studying in the city. He approached them both. Fellow Swiss, Corbusier was in Venice in a temporary office hoping to receive a commission to design a hospital (a plan which did not come to fruition) and Louis Kahn was working on project to build a convention centre. Botta made clear to both architects that he was the perfect student to hire, he helped Kahn with the installation of an exhibition about his design for the Palazzo dei Congressi.

In 1970, soon after graduating Botta opened his own practice in Lugano accepting commissions locally for houses in the Ticino region. He was constantly in demand and showed his versatility. First and foremost an architect, in 1982 he published La Casa Rotunda with illustrations by Gabrielle Basilico this paved the way for numerous articles over the years. Of the many successes in those early years, one to highlight is MoMA in New York dedicating an exhibition to his work in 1986, this brought him to a far wider audience and more prominent international commissions. Now almost a half-century from his graduation he remains a prolific architect designing family homes, sacred spaces and world-class museums. From his first design, the 1965-7 brutalist Stabio House to his latest project in Gent Belgium, Labomista, a 24-hectare site comprising a house, art studio and park, Botta has left an indelible mark.

Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista; Tichino Switzerland Mario Botta

Church Of San Giovanni Battista Mogno, Tichino: Image Nathan Lopez

Church of San Giovanni Battista Mario Botta

Image Nathan Lopez


Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista Switzerland

Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista: Image Nathan Lopez

A selection of  Mario Botha’s commissions and projects include:

Stabio House 1965-1967 (brutalist), designed whilst at University

Family houses in Riva San Vitale Switzerland 1972-3, Ligornetto Switzerland 1975-6, Massagno Switzerland 1979-81, Pregassona Switzerland 1979, Stabio Switzerland 1980-81, Viganello Switzerland 1981-82, Morbio Superiore Switzerland 1982-83, Breganzona, Switzerland 1984, Morbio Inferiore Switzerland 1986,

Morbio Inferiore School Switzerland 1972-77,

Library within the Capuchin Monastery Lugano Switzerland 1976-79, Arts Centre Balerna Switzerland 1977-79,

National Bank of Friborg 1981, a commercial building in Lugano 1981-85,

La Casa Rotunda 1981-2, Gotthard Bank/ Banca del Gottardo in Lugano Switzerland 1982-86,

André Malraux Cultural Centre, Chambéry 1987 (first overseas commission),

Le Médiathèque,

House of the Book of Image and Sound François Mitterrand, Villeurbanne France 1987,


Stadt und Landesbibliothek, the Central Library Dortmund, Germany: Image CC BY SA 3.0


Watari Museum Tokyo: Image Wiiii CC BY SA 3.0

and ….

Gallery in Tokyo 1985, Row House Pregassona Switzerland 1985,

Thyssen-Bornemisza Gallery in Lugano 1986,

The Banque Nationale de Fribourg, Switzerland (1987),

SFMOMA San Francisco 1988, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Shibuya, Tokyo 1990,

Holy Pope Giovanni XIII Church in Seriate Italy, Novazzano Housing Complex 1992, Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista, Church Of San Giovanni Battista 1992-1996,

Évry Cathedral 1995,

Bergoase Spa Arosa 2003 with GPL Tschuggen Arosa Salvatore,

The Cymbalista Synagogue and Jewish Heritage Centre in Tel Aviv 1997-8,


Mario Botta architecture

Leeum Samsung Museum of Art: Image Severin Stalder CC BY SA 3.0

Mario Botta designed synagogue

Cymbalista Synagogue and Jewish Heritage Centre, Tel Aviv: Image OLevy CC BY 2.5


Cymbalista Synagogue Tel Aviv: Image Michaeli CC BY SA 3.0

Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul South Korea, Chiesa Del Santo Volto Turin 2006,

The New Winery Chateau Fozher Saint-Emilion France, Museum Tinguely,

Basle Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchâtel part of the Swiss National Library

Offices for Tata Consultancy Services Hyderabad and Noida EPFL Lausanne Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Abate Genestrerio Saint Jean-Baptiste church, Mogno, Switzerland Fiore Di Pietra, Monte Generoso 2017

Labiomista Genk Belgium 2019.

Awards include: Merit Award AIA for SFMoMA

EU Prize for Cultural Heritage

Europa Nostra for his work on La Scala, Milan

Accademia: Co-founder of The Mendrisio School of Architecture, the Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio part of the Università della Svizzera Italiana Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne

Honorary Doctorate University of Freiburg

Honorary Member Bund Deutscher Architekten

2018 recipient of the Joseph Ratzinger Prize

Novazzano by Botta Tichino Switerland

Novazzano Housing Complex: Image Nathan Lopez

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