Situated in a hilly region of southern Switzerland, in the Pregassona district of Lugano, the Sampietro house is one of the landmarks of contemporary architecture.
It was designed in 1979 by Mario Botta, whose distinctive style can be almost instantly noticed, charming the passers-by with a sense of strength and balance, inscribed in pure geometrical forms. Still, the house fits in the landscape so well that it may appear to have risen straight from the ground, like the massive blocks of stones in the mountains that project on the horizon.
Similar to other projects of Mario Botta, symmetry, order, rigorous geometry and harmonious proportions are fundamental principles that can be read anywhere in Sampietro House, starting with the eye-catching image of the main façade. The almost square-shaped massive wall features a symmetrical subtraction where large windows were placed in order to flood the hall with light. The triangular skylight crowning the facade, a leitmotiv of Botta’s architecture, enriches the monumentality of the house.
Referring to his approach to design, the architect states light as a starting point: “I start off from a topographical idea, of orientation, of trying to understand how light draws spatial limits. The light I have in mind generates space.“Light plays a vital role in the project: the house is oriented according to the cardinal points. As a result, the interior distribution is determined by the different amount of natural light that every type of space requires. The service and circulation areas are north-oriented, while the living spaces face the western, eastern and southern sides of the house, on the first and second floor. The basement and the ground floor feature only technical spaces and circulation areas. On the first floor there are the kitchen, the bathroom, the study room and the living room. On the second floor we can find two bedrooms, two balconies, a bathroom and a dressing room.
Built of reinforced concrete, the Sampietro House has a structural plan and its massivity becomes an esthetic factor. The geometry of pure forms allows the light to have the last word in determining the atmosphere inside the house, while on the outside large windows contrast with the stone-clad walls. Transparency and opacity blending with the careful use of symmetry and proportion turn Mario Botta’s project into a living proof that simplicity can be the recipe for elegance and refinement.