A Conversation with Mario Botta: transforming nature into culture

For the Architect, the Story of His Time Is the Real Client

We meet Mario Botta, certainly attracted by his fame as an architectural star but fascinated above all by his pure volumes, cylindrical constructions and by the use of stones and bricks crossed by large cracks. A cultured architect who learned from Le Corbusier, Carlo Scarpa, Louis Kahn.

You declared that architecture “is capable of transforming nature into culture”.
Architecture is the discipline that organizes man’s living space. This means that man shapes “virgin” nature with his own thought and rationality. One aspect of our job of building is the opportunity to modify an existing balance in an attempt to propose a new one with an added value. The first sign of building is the placing of a stone on the earth: all architecture carries this absolute condition of being part of the soil in their womb. Through the act of building, man perpetuates the confrontation with mother earth and transforms a condition of nature into culture. Placing an artifact on the ground is a challenge to the existing balance in the search for new environmental values capable of being witnesses and mirrors of one’s time.

Which of your works best represents you?
Each work should be the “child” of the creator so it is very difficult to choose between what has already been created. The real interest does not lie in the work done but in the process of “doing”. However, if I really have to point out a slow and painful job, I mention the MART, museum of modern and contemporary art of Trento and Rovereto because, beyond being an art container, it is a project that shapes a part of the city which previously did not exist. This should be the goal of every project: to ensure that the history, culture and memory of a place are interpreted to create spaces suitable for human life.

Placing an artifact on the ground is a challenge to the existing balance in the search for new environmental values

Among your important collaborations I remember Le Corbusier.
Le Corbusier was the 20th century architect who more than others was able to transform the history of his time into architectural projects; think of public housing and the concept of Existenzminimum (subsistence dwelling) in the immediate postwar period, the Ronchamp church or the project for the new capital of Punjab, Chandigarh.

Can you tell us about your most recent projects?
I am working on multiple projects. It is not an architect’s prerogative to choose the work, what he can do instead is accommodate the client’s requests - and the history of his time is the real client. I am currently working on a spa with the use of natural spring water sources in Baden, Switzerland; the extension of the sports center in Tenero with a functional program that requires gyms, administrative offices and a canteen as well as the new ice rink in Ambrì. Projects abroad include the San Rocco Church in Sambuceto, Italy; a small chapel for the historic glass company Lalique in Wingen, France; the university campus for the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China and the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Namyang, South Korea. 

The Author

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Giuseppe Calandriello was born in Pietrasanta on June 29, 1979.
After his artistic studies he graduated in Cinema, music and theater.
His writings, articles and conceptual works are published in the anthologies Tuttologia e Contro Zam, Nuova Tèchne, Scrivere all'infinito, Offerta Speciale, Athe(X)ehtA, ToCall, Otoliths, DOC(K)S, ARTEiN, Die Leere Mitte, Frequenze Poetiche, Wipe, Lettere S.com.Poste, ASEMICS, OUSTE, Antologia Ad Hoc, BAU, Franticham's Fluxus, t.a.z., Busta Sorpresa and KART.
Among the online magazines that have published his works, Apuntozeta, UTSANGA, The New Post-literate, Counterclock, Carte nel Vento, Cultura Commestibile and Affaritaliani.it.
In 2019 he publishes the short story "Cose che volano" and in 2020 the collection of aphorisms “Chi cerca non trova”.
He wrote the screenplay for the movie "Anja - Real Love Girl" and the short movie "La Reliquia".

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