Casa Bianchi | Switzerland Architecture

Located at the base of the San Giorgio Mountain, in the Mendrisio area of Switzerland, Casa Bianchi (1971-3) at Riva San Vitale is distinguishable from the stunning natural landscape of the angling town. Occupying 220 rectangular metres associated with an 850 square metre site, the concrete block tower resembles a fortress in its comparative isolation above Lake Lagona; chilly yet somehow familiar in its modern form.

Built over a hillside, the primary access to this family house is curiously through its top floor. This square vertically extruded building seems fortress-like in that it generally does not connect to its surroundings but instead observes them. However, an association is made between hillside and home by an 18 metre long red material bridge which gives the main usage of the house; reinforcing its stronghold appearance. The bridge pierces the heart of the house through the fifth floor where a studio and a terrace are to be found. Private views can be found from both these places, alongside one another detaching the viewers from the planet, and directly setting up a rapport between your two. 'The sense, when crossing the bridge towards the house, is of entering into the scenery, and one's eyes prolong beyond to the church of Melano, at the other aspect of the lake. '[i]

Mario Botta (b. Switzerland 1943) designed this house soon after graduating for his good friends Carlo and Leontina Bianchi. This is Botta's second project for the few; the first was the refurbishment of a flat in the village of Genestrerio, Switzerland. The quick for the residence at Riva San Vitale was similar for the reason that a low budget home was required for a few with two children. Botta himself highly believed in a residence being created for its particular environment hence the distinctive appearance utilized by the house.

According to Arnardttir, Halldra and Snchez Merina, Javier, the land along the small road where in fact the Bianchi site ends had been experiencing haphazard development over the last century. Botta opposed the tendancy to treat architecture as a commodity therefore it was his purpose from the beginning to propose a house that would draw the limit of the careless expansion of the village as means of protecting the woods. Scheduled in part to his protest, shortly after the completion of the house, new regulations announced no further building could be approved in the area and so, for this reason the tower house now stands together in its shielded landscape.

The greatest influences on the work of Mario Botta came in the proper execution the renowned brutalist architects Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn, both of whom he quickly collaborated with in the sixties. Brutalism was a movement conceived from modernist architecture that thrived in the wake of World Conflict II anticipated to economically despondent claims requiring low-cost development and design. Characterisd by its stark, monolithic forms, brutalism made up of unembellished exteriors and frequently block-like geometric forms.

Undoubtedly the Bianchi house is a true example of brutalist architecture but Botta himself is mostly known as a neo-rationalist architect, owned by the Ticense college. Neo Rationalism was an Italian motion of great repute in 1960s and 1970s. Wanting to redefine architectural form through the rational mergence of its components, neo Rationalism dismissed the sentiment that technology is the only way forwards in architecture. Instead they viewed to the past and were encouraged by the architectural forms that were once abundant.

Botta seemed to the Ticinese motion which he was one of the primary figures when designing the Riva San Vitale home. The Ticinese school was made up of several Swiss architects who marketed a greater understanding for the significance of historical style, both socially and culturally. "Roccolo" residences, or bird hunting towers once typified the Ticino region and it is from these properties that Botta required inspiration when designing the strain bearing concrete brick tower house.

'These complexes were raised in the trees and shrubs as traces of real human marks. . . Later, although many of them were ruined, some were converted into weekend houses. It had been precisely this combination of astonishing mother nature and basic engineering which gave a special quality to the region. [ii]

Botta's motives in utilising this form were however very different ; The house stands at a respectful distance from the hillside, infringing after the land only as much as is necessary. The vertical manner ensures the house does not lose importance in comparison to the lofty mountains as its backdrop and in so doing responded his friends' wishes of enjoying both views of the lake above the trees and by having strong contact with the ground. Stevens Curl, Adam described Botta's complexes to own;

'clear, powerful geometries and display fine craftsmanship. For instance, the house at Riva San Vitale. . . is monumental, and has profound and powerful voids in the elevations'[iii]

The house is available plan yet still private, arranged around a usually enclosed central available newel staircase and offers a selection of different views of the region from each liveable space. Subsequently, the stairs section off the home and so act as a divider, creating privateness. From the bridge, the floor to be found when descending the staircase is the private one of Carlo and Leontina themselves. Through being placed thus, the couple are fundamentally the gatekeepers with their own home. So long as they are on their floor, nobody can leave or go into through the front without their knowledge. Botta has created for them an intimate space comprising a bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and a good lake view balcony.

The second floor of the home was suitable for family living. The kids have their own twin bedroom and bathroom and gleam study which assists as a balcony, looking over the kitchen-dining room. The duplex aspect of the home allows for relationship between the various floors, so that it is more public, but there are still private quarters found on each level presenting a variety in atmosphere not only across different floors, but in each room also. A dining area can be found on the first floor and the basement consists of a laundry room, storage places and a garage which are clearly intended for family only use.

Botta arranged the home so that the service areas occupy a similar vertical position with the bathrooms on the second and third flooring surfaces and the laundry room in the cellar. In this manner, plumbing the house would be more affordable as certain pipes such as those for drainage would run through the building and it could also save space. The only real part of the house to need a separate system would be your kitchen which occupies some other part of the first floor. It really is in this area of the house that we presume Botta has considered his clients' spacial requirements the priority.

The basement includes a laundry room, storage area places and a garage area which are obviously designed for family use only. The interpersonal centre of the house are available on the first floor where there's a living room as well as the kitchen -eating out room. Friends to the home would be required to walk over the bridge and into the general public region of the home. Standing in the bottom of a slope, with such depths and fortification within the property, the Bianchi house feels like an upside down castle.

The simple design and permits as much light as is feasible to enter the home without compromising the privateness of the family.

Increasing commercialization by those seen as having betrayed architecture, a go back to academic ideas propounded by QuatremЁre de Quincy and more was proposed. Among recognized works is Grassi's learner residences, Chieti (1976), which drew on proposals by Weinbrenner (1808).


  • Surname, First Name (or initials if you do not know the first name). Time. Title (in italics). Place of publication: Publisher.
  • Arnardttir, Halldra & Snchez Merina, Javier. 2005. "A family house at Riva San Vitale by Mario Botta". Available from: http://storiesofhouses. blogspot. com/2005/07/family-house-at-riva-san-vitale-by. html (Seen th October 2009)
  • FDHA, Federal Department of Home Affairs. "Mario Botta". 2009 Available from: http://www. bundesmuseen. ch/cdn/00127/00203/index. html?lang=en
  • Stevens Curl, James. 2000. A Dictionary of Structures and Landscape Structures.

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