November 23, 2017

Mario Botta Recalls Childhood Memories for Swiss Restaurant Monte Generoso

I’m an old-school architect, sketching on loose tracing paper ripped off rolls. That way, it’s easier to throw something away if I don’t like it. I use soft Caran d’Ache pencils, and I avoid the computer. A sketch, for me, is an extension of a dream that brings hope to realizing a project. I believe that architecture transforms nature into culture.

For Monte Generoso, a restaurant and conference facility that I designed in Capolago, Switzerland, I had to work on a promontory at the edge of a 1,300-foot drop—the plateau at the top of the mountain. In a gallery on the ground level, you can now see an exhibition of numerous sketches chronicling my journey in making this project work. Many of them show my annotations and regrets, the challenges of replacing a demolished hotel with a single tower. This particular drawing shows the octagonal granite structure, my “stone flower,” resting majestically, like an imposing totem pole, on its precipice. Tourists can reach it via cog railway, connecting to the lakeshore, or on foot to admire the Alps to the north. I grew up at the base of the mountain and used to climb to the summit, camp out overnight, and watch the sunrise.

The exterior of Monte Generoso in Capolago, Switzerland. Photography by Enrico Cano.
Childhood memories inspired Botta’s design for Monte Generoso. Photography by Enrico Cano.
A sketch of Botta’s Monte Generoso restaurant.

> See more from the October 2017 issue of Interior Design

Recent DesignWire