On Monday morning, my studio went to visit a famous home nearby. About a twenty minute walk and small hike from the villa is a Mario Botta house that sits on the steep edge of a hill. Mario Botta is a famous architect from Switzerland and is based in Mendrisio, a town only ten minutes away from Riva. The house was immediately impactful with its bright red truss walkway leading to the concrete cube-home. It is absolutely a one-of-a-kind design with the color and idea of the truss. The home was layered inside with many small floors surrounding a central core stair. The owners are very kind and let the students visit the home every semester, and they open up their entire home. We got to walk around the house, looking at the interesting structural moments, decorated rooms, and architecture spaces. I enjoyed visiting the house, but I appreciated the exterior more than the interior of the home. I love the idea of embracing the steep site with a custom truss walkway such as this!
This morning several of the architecture students headed to Monte Tamero, Switzerland to see a chapel at the top of a mountain. This Mario Botta chapel has a tall, skinny bridge leading to a summit-like overlook with a chapel directly below it. When we got there, it was very cloudy and the visibility was horrible. It was somewhat unfortunate as the look out typically provides a view for miles of alps, but we made the most of it. The small building had a lot of interplay with geometries, but somehow it was harmonious. The the oculus windows provide a strange direct lighting condition inside the tunnel-like space below the bridge. It is also a very directional space, leading you directly to the chapel. Inside the chapel it is very dark, the only direct light coming in beside the flanking pews. Indirect light comes through fin-like modules in the ceiling, casting a gradient of light from the roof above. Santa Maria degli Angeli was a beautiful little project and I enjoyed walking around it. On Monte Tamero there is also a small trail that leads to a few sculptures. We hiked up to the top to see them more closely. It was nice to look at them, but the view was no better than below. Although the weather wasn’t clear, it added a certain atmosphere to the trip that was kind of nice!