HomeDo You Know?Why the roof and walls of this church are designed in that...

Why the roof and walls of this church are designed in that manner?

This is the Church of San Giovanni Battista located in the alpine village of Mogno in the Swiss canton of Ticino. Original church was built in the 17th century which was swept away by an avalanche in 1986. The new church was designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta in 1994-96 who used marble and granite from the valleys of the area. Do you know why the roof and walls of the structure are designed in that manner?

Botta’s liking for curved structure is visible in his various projects, especially those of sacred spaces. His designs tend to include a strong sense of geometry, often being based on very simple shapes, yet creating unique volumes of space. His buildings are often made of brick, yet his use of material is wide, varied, and often unique.

After being overwhelmed in 1986 by an avalanche the church San Giovanni Battista was rebuilt on the same sight where the original chapel was located. Though the new structure preserved the relatively modest dimensions of old chapel, it introduced a new image and a new language. The new language conveys a contemporary dimension, mediated by an archaic meaning thanks to the interplay of essential shapes: a rectangle inscribed within an external eclipse that changes into a circle at the roof level.

According to Mario Botta, “Surfaces once again in the decided inclined ‘cut’ of the outer walls which compress the internal space and force it to expand towards the sky by way of the roof-cum-skylight. The subtle dualism between the levity of the roofing and the strength and thickness of the building, completely new compared to the consistency of a traditional stone roof, testify to the desire for survival on the part of the construction.” The thick stone wall and the light glass roof give the building the meaning of resistance against a possible future disaster.

However, the ossuary is rebuilt exactly in the previous position. The two bells, which bear the date of 1746, are the only elements recovered after the avalanche that completely overwhelmed and destroyed the ancient church.

The interior set-up is very simple: it consists exclusively of two rows of wooden benches arranged in axis with respect to the altar: the altar, of white marble, consists exclusively of two blocks. On the left side there is a statue of the Madonna, that stands over a baptismal font in light marble.

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