Mario Botta was born in Mendrisio on April 1, 1943. He attended primary school at Genestrerio and secondary school at Mendrisio. By his own admission, Mario Botta never liked going to school; as long as he could remember, Mario Botta went againist his will. At age 15, Mario Botta quit school and became a draftsman in the architectural studio of Carloni and Camenish in Lugano, Switzerland. In that capacity, Mario Botta soon ralized that his natural talent for drawing could lead to his final career choice in architecture. After three years as a draftsman, Mario Botta became an apprentice and was given his first major design project. Mario Botta was put in charge of the design for a new complex to replace the parish house of Genestrerio that was to be demolished when a village road was widened. The excitement and enthusiasm with which Mario Botta developed and completed this first major design responsibility has never left him.
It was not until 1969 that Mario Botta had the opportunity to meet Louis Kahn who was in Venice to install the exhibition of his project for the new Congress Building (Palais de Congres) in the Palazzo Ducale. Mario Botta felt it was very important to meet Kahn, and managed to help him with the exhibit and to assist Kahn in completing plans for that building. Of the time in Venice, Mario Botta has suggested that he and Kahn did not understand each other very well. Kahn spoke no Italian, Mario Botta no English, so all conversations occurred through an interpreter. Yet, Kahn's brilliance, his ability to distill any architectural issue to its essence, and his ability to clearly define the purpose and the depth of a problem etched a permanent impression on Mario Botta. Not only was it possible to ask Kahn's famous question "What does the building want to be?", but in his contact with Kahn, Mario Botta found the answer: "It is not what you want, it is what you sense in the order of things which tells you what to design". Carlo Scarpa, who acted in the capacity of teacher and final examiner at the completion of Mario Botta's studies in Venice, showed Mario Botta the "innovations of modern architecture as
they were interpreted by the neo-Rationalist movement". Scarpa also imparted to his apt pupil his intense love for materials, for the composition and order of those materials, and for the differences between their expressions. Scarpa's sensitivity toward the understanding of their structure and his concern for detailing materials intelligently gave Mario Botta a philosophical direction and an appreciation for even the most common materials that has since characterized all of his built work.
architectural standards books
building types & styles books
drawing & modelling books
historic preservation books
interior design books
project planning & management books
study & teaching books
urban & land use planning books After graduating from the IUA in Venice, Mario Botta returned to Switzerland to work as a professional architect with a studio in Lugano. Mario Botta's first built work after graduation was a single-family house at Cadenazzo in Ticino, in progress from 1970 to 1971. Having only a few months before completing his work with Louis Kahn in Venice. Kahn's lessons provided a fresh vision for Mario Botta:
...the light, the silence and the memory entered as structural and essential elements of architecture . . . Architecture, beyond the fantastic images and as a messianic vocation, reproposes itself every day as a system of life, as a profession, a labor, a craft. Now in this perspective architecture is essentially to me, it is a system for living, for seeing and evaluating what is around me. With this attachment every theme, every occasion of work becomes a new and enthralling adventure, a fantastic encounter and confrontation in the struggle for the transformation of reality.
Mario Botta's career has spanned more than two busy decades; in addition to his practice, Mario Botta has served as a visiting professor at the Ecole Polytechnic Federale in Lausanne, Switzerland, for the past ten years. In 1982, Mario Botta was made a member of the Commission Federale Svizzera delle Belle Arti, and in 1983, became an honorary fellow of the Bund Deutscher Architeckten (BDA). The American Institute of Architects (AIA) conferred honorary fellowship upon Mario Botta in 1984. Today, Mario Botta continues his active lecturing in Europe. North America, and Latin America.