Banca del Gottardo
Viale Stefano Franscini
Canton of Ticino Switzerland
Mario Botta 1982-1988
The Banca del Gottardo is
located in the outskirts of the historic center, in an area where the
compact form of Lugano becomes dispersed into suburban single family
houses. Following the seminal ideas developed during the project and
construction of the Ransilla I project (1985) in the center of town, Botta embarks into no less than the
redefinition of the role of architecture in the shaping of the city.
For Botta Architecture is the building block of urbanism not only in the
formal but also in the social sense of the word. If the Ransilla I
project gave him the opportunity to reconstruct the idea of the urban
block by filling an empty corner, then the chance to affect the
scattered patterns of the periphery with the building of the Banca del
Gottardo became a promise towards a project of reconstruction. This
building allowed Botta to contribute his idea of how the city should
continue growing. Density of mass, a certain height (22 meters) and the
rhythms of the volumes, all add up to this vision.
conceived a building with a striking presence. The great mass necessary
to cover the programmatic requirements of the bank is ingeniously broken
into four towers. These towers, which remain connected at the office
levels, appear as separate pieces in the main façade, and their rhythm
and form reminds you of a medieval fortress. The architect advocates
their frontal configuration by calling them 'the façades of the
viale, … stone faces' to the street. These masks mark the
entrances to the towers, and their design includes the label vertical
slit and the horizontal bands of Mario Botta.
Ultimately, these towers
are the key elements that accomplish the strong urban presence for the
building. However, it seems contradictory that a building with such
civic pretensions is in reality a private enclave. The project provides
the street with a clear edge and a pedestrian space of generous
proportions; there are some semi-public spaces at the ground floor, like
the bank's branch hall, but access to the remaining areas is forbidden.
The seemingly rich spatial relations established between the inside and
outside through the manipulation of form in the towers, remain a
privilege for a few.
In a way this disillusionment awakens the suspicion
that the level of formalism in Botta's work at times becomes a barrier
for experience instead of an opportunity for questioning expectations
and creating new situations.
The building is
only a short walk from the city center. From the train station take the
funicular into the heart of the town. Walk north-west, passing by Piazza
Dante, Via Pretorio where you can appreciate the Ransilla I and Ransilla
II Projects, and continue north until Via Pretorio becomes Viale Stefano