Architecture is my prayer - An interview with Mario Botta
Institutional Communication Service
30 June 2022
In connection with the exhibition dedicated to the sacred and the profane at the Maxxi Museum in Rome (running until 4 September 2022), journalist Antonio Gnoli interviewed architect Mario Botta for the newspaper La Repubblica (28 May 2022 edition).
The interview takes its cue from the current Rome exhibition, which has the theme of the sacred and the profane at its heart. Antonio Gnoli identifies a kind of insistence on the part of Mario Botta when it comes to the sacred. To this, Botta responds that the sacred "is a way of remembering that the past never really passes and that even in the most profane materials and forms dwells the sacred." The architect highlights how "the work of architecture lends itself or, rather, opens itself to this possibility and helps to understand what pitfalls and limitations our profession may face."
A profession threatened, according to Mario Botta, "by all those problems - climate, environmental, energy and health - that globalisation has aggravated." Architecture builds human living space and should act as a "seismograph" for the changes that are taking place and "help understand what is going wrong. The sacred, not as mere religious experience, can be the necessary reminder."
In modernity, there is a poverty of expression that, for Botta, needs to be countered. "In the midst of the consumer society, I bet on the architecture of the sacred by searching for the primordial values of the architectural fact itself." In this sense, think "of gravity, of light as the generator of space, of the threshold as the condition between outside and inside."
After delving into the exhibition's themes, the interview takes a more biographical turn by tracing Mario Botta's life, from his childhood in Mendrisio, the "border village" that is the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. His graduation from Venice with Carlo Scarpa, the lessons of Kahn and Le Corbusier, and his friendship with Dürrenmatt.