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revisiting precedents

casa bianchi_riva san vitale, ticani, switzerland_mario botta_1971-3

a low budget house with rooms for a couple with two children

mario botta's architectural language:

classical symmetric layout
simple geometric shape
the closure of thick walls
lighting and the election of the slit space
3 levels of freedom of association
placed in the vertical axis line traffic
played with the top of skylight


monte san giorgio

combination of astonishing nature and basic

construction which gave a special quality to the area
mark the limit of the careless expansion of the village as
a means of protecting the woods
reinterpreted the vernacular type of tower to protect
the landscape
due in part to Botta's protest with his powerful
architecture and shortly after the completion of the
house, a new urban planning regulation declared the
environment as a green belt and, hence, no further
building construction was approved in the area

can be regarded as a compendium of compositional
elements characteristic of Botta
results in a clear partnering of clear form and primary
geometry, like a prism, in which the house takes after
an echo of the devotion to solid elements of Le
presents a series of grand substractions vertically,
which create spaces of various heights and form an
openwork space in the main volume
varying heights also present the intersection of another,
smaller prismatic shape that creates the entry to the
this smaller metallic space, in contrast to the larger
volume, appears almost translucent
in relation to the envrionment, is intented to achieve
its form in a vertical manner, so as not to lose
importance when compared with the lofty mountains
as its backdrop

fishing village at the south

general layout

lake lugano at the east

mountain slope with dense wood at the north

importance of the house

nine square grid

balance by geometry

square geometry

unit to whole
formal articulation
built as a four storey tower
square base 9.5 meters aside
13.6 meters high
accessible by a red metal bridge


symmetry & balance

circular cut-out for diffused light passing

white plaster interior

functional sequence
concrete exterior wall
molded like brick (textured)

upper level: entrance by bridge

level 1: space for parents
level 2: space for children
level 3: main living,dining, kitchen
lower level: partially buried multi-services

concrete floor covered

red terracotta tiles

architect: mario botta

year(s) of construction: 1971-1973
owners: carlo bianchi & leontina bianchi
occupied land area: 220 sqm
total land area: 850 sqm
mass dimension: 10 meters square, 13 meters height
bridge length: 18 meters
location: Riva San Vitale, Switzerland

spatial planning
spaces are organized around a
central core that is the square
sp iral staircase. the latter
distributes level lower through
vertical circulation

hierarchy of form


metal bridge

concrete load bearing wall

spiral square staircase

(internal circulation)

primary view






vertical slit



cut-out for the

direct view of the
surrounding scenery


public space
private space

geometry &
classic cube to express
reverence for nature &
3 lower cube support
an outdoor terrace
with the indoor spaces

hierarchy of space

private spaces- bathrooms,

bedrooms, study areas- upper
public spaces- living, kitchen,
dining, terrace-lower level

outdoor atrium spacea central location for public interaction

entering the house an

outdoor terrace open
to the right continues
down through 3rd floor
from 1st to 4th floor,
the living area with
elevated ceiling
living areas & terraces
exposed to the vertical
atrium is visible from
most of the roomsgiving it a sense of

west & north facade has the small openingwest facade face the slope
north facade face winter cold

light & ventilation

east & south facade has the big openingface the open lake
air circulation

metal bridge establishes the physical

relationship between the house & the mountain

west elevation

east elevation

west elevation

his facades are not simply a question of decorating the exterior surface of a building. they express a relationship of the interior of the house with the surroundings, the
movement of the sun, or the direction to an existing historical construction; they have a geometry that corresponds to the abstraction of the surrounding landscape.

side length ratio_ 1.4: 1:1.6



str uctur e

load bearing walls

buffer space

third floor
(entry, studio, balcony)

main space of space

aerial area

load bearing walls

ground floor
(kitchen, living, dining)

second floor
(master bed, bathroom, balcony)

first floor
(children's bed, study, bathroom)