Mario Botta receives the Piranesi Prix de Rome for Lifetime Achievement
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Mario Botta receives the Piranesi Prix de Rome for Lifetime Achievement

Through his work, the Swiss architect has “brought about a significant paradigm shift towards a reevaluation of historical themes and a progressive abandonment of radical modernism.”

Mario Botta receives the Piranesi Prix de Rome for Lifetime Achievement
By Editorial Staff -

Mario Botta is the recipient of the 2023 Piranesi Prix de Rome for Lifetime Achievement, an award conferred by the Accademia Adrianea di Architettura e Archeologia. The prestigious prize was presented to the Swiss architect, born in Mendrisio in 1943, during a ceremony at Casa dell’Architettura, Rome, on Friday, March 15.

At the event, Botta presented a keynote that retraced the landmarks of his career, while also paying tribute to Gimbattista Piranesi:

“Receiving an award named after Piranesi is an honor for me. Perhaps I wouldn’t be who I am today without Piranesi, who, more than others, made the collective imagination the key motivation behind both his work and life. His work was a dazzling example of the complexity of living places, achieved through images that broadened points of view to create a symphony of spaces and perceptions. This award encourages the imagination to rise above function, technique, and the practicalities of construction, to offer a building’s users abundant light and spaces organized to promote the joy of being alive.”

 

 

Among the dignitaries attending the ceremony were president emeritus of the Accademia Adrianea, Romolo Martemucci; the president of the Rome PPC Chamber of Architects, Alessandro Panci; the president of the Accademia Adrianea, Pier Federico Caliari; the Swiss ambassador to Italy, Monika Schmutz Kirgöz; and the chair of the Department of Architecture and Design at Politecnico di Torino, Michele Bonino.

The awarding of the Piranesi Prix de Rome for Lifetime Achievement to Mario Botta was decided by the Piranesi Prix de Rome jury in collaboration with the Rome Chamber of Architects, Landscape Architects, Planners, and Conservators. The jury’s statement mentions:

“Viewing his career as a whole, Mario Botta was one of the most influential and widely imitated architects between the 1970s and ’90s, a period when architecture witnessed a significant paradigm shift towards a reevaluation of historical themes and a progressive abandonment of radical modernism, in part because of Botta’s talent and considerable output.”

Polo didattico di Biologia e Biomedicina 'Fiore di Botta' all'Università di Padova (Italia) Photo by Joe58wiki / Wikimedia Commons, License CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Mario Botta, architect and designer

Born in Mendrisio, Switzerland, in 1943, Mario Botta graduated from the IUAV University of Venice in 1969. His supervisors were Carlo Scarpa and Giuseppe Mazzariol. Returning to Switzerland in 1970, he opened his first practice in Lugano, where he remained for forty years until 2011, when he finally returned to Mendrisio.

Botta, who’s said that “building is a sacred art,” has had a long and productive career, during which he has embraced all building typologies: schools, banks, office buildings, libraries, museums, and places of worship. Highlights from his portfolio include private homes in Riva San Vitale, Stabio, and Morbio Superiore; places of worship on Monte Tamaro and in Mogno; the restoration of Teatro alla Scala in Milan; the MoMA in San Francisco; and his most recent mega works in China. He is one of the most prolific and easily recognizable architects of the last five decades. Botta has also been involved in industrial design, creating numerous products for major brands since the 1980s.

Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Monte Tamaro, Svizzera) Photo by Vid Pogacnik / Wikimedia Commons, License CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Exhibitions, scenic design, and installations

The jury also recognized Botta’s work in exhibition, stage, and installation design – from the rainstorm of cables that distinguished the first exhibition dedicated to Carlo Scarpa at Venice’s Gallerie dell’Accademia, which was later used with labyrinthine freedom in the Myths of Dürrenmatt, to the wooden pigeonhole composition by Botta Cucchi and the Monte Tamaro Chapel. From the “welcoming surfaces” of the Giancarlo Vitali exhibition in Lecco and the Mantegna exhibition in Padua to the “volumetric surfaces” of the Gianfranco Ferroni exhibition in Bergamo, Botta has been behind some of the greatest explorations of the relationship between architecture, art, and history.

Botta’s first experience with scenic design was for The Nutcracker. And scenic design is another important chapter of his work, with the architect creating many sets for theaters in Basel and Zurich. Another highlight from his portfolio is the impressive San Carlino installation on Lake Lugano, a work that has written itself into the history of exhibitions with its high urban design value.

Biblioteca municipale (Dortmund, Germania) Photo by Hans Peter Schaefer / Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License

 

Teacher and popularizer

As an architect, teacher, and popularizer, Botta has held courses and seminars in schools of architecture across Europe, Asia, the United States, and Latin America. As part of his role in the foundation of the Università della Svizzera Italiana, he also contributed to the formation of the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, of which he has been emeritus professor since 2019 and director on two occasions.

 

>>> Discover Mario Botta’s deign of the Divine Providence church in Leopoli, Ukraine

Cover Image: Mario Botta in a photo by Flavia Leuenberger, courtesy of Studio Mario Botta

All images in the gallery were retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

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