2nd edition of Sino-Swiss Architecture Dialogue kicks off; China premiere of Mario Botta documentary to further exchanges

Press release, 10.04.2019

Building on the success of the inaugural Sino-Swiss Architecture Dialogue (SSAD) in 2018, the second edition returns to Beijing and Shanghai, with an additional stop in Chengdu. The three-city dialogue, held from 10 to 14 April with the participation of the world’s renowned Swiss architect Mario Botta and film director Loretta Dalpozzo, consists of a rich program of documentary screening, lecture, master class, and panel discussion.

Swiss architect Mario Botta
Swiss architect Mario Botta © courtesy of Mario Botta

Initiated by the Embassy of Switzerland in China and co-organized by its Consulates General in Shanghai and Chengdu, the SSAD, an interactive platform to further exchanges between Switzerland and China, is supported by prestigious local partners of Tsinghua University Art Museum (TAM) in Beijing, Tongji University in Shanghai and Luxelakes·A4 Art Museum in Chengdu. Mario Botta, a prolific and creative crafter of space, will share his decades-long experience in the profession, and give inspirations to young architects and talents from China.

Through the program, the dialogue will also showcase Swiss innovation in architecture, which is highlighted by cutting-edge technology and aesthetic creativity, and led by master architects including Le Corbusier, Peter Zumthor, Herzog & de Meuron and Mario Botta.

Documentary: Mario Botta. The Space Beyond

Directed by Loretta Dalpozzo and Michèle Volontè, Mario Botta. The Space Beyond (Mario Botta. Oltre lo Spazo, 2018) is a rare, in-depth artistic journey into the work of the internationally acclaimed Swiss architect. In the film, Botta tries to understand why a globalized society experiences the urge to build sacred spaces. At 75, Botta is one of the few architects who has built places of worship for the three main monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Having designed many churches, chapels and a synagogue, he is now working on a mosque in Ningxia, China.

The directors travelled to China, South Korea, Israel, Italy and Switzerland to discover a passionate and tireless artist, his buildings and part of his creative process.

“People need to go beyond materialism. They need a space for their souls, where they can find peace and calmness,” says Mario Botta in the documentary while explaining his huge interest in building sacred places, noting it is also a big responsibility for an architect to build a symbol of faith and humanity. “I would like to create only buildings linked to the human’s need to reach beyond matter.”

Panel discussion, lecture, master class with Chinese students

After the screenings, Botta and film director Dalpozzo will join the audience in Beijing and Chengdu for Q and A sessions and panel discussions on culture, spirituality, art and architecture.

Panelists for discussions at TAM: Zhang Li (Professor of Architecture / Chair of the Architecture Department in the School of Architecture, Tsinghua University), Wang Hui (architect, designer of The Today Art Museum, Beijing's first non-governmental and non-profit art museum).

Panelists for discussions at A4 Art Museum: artist Liang Chen, Sunny Sun, director of Luxelakes·A4 Art Museum

One of the founders of the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio, Switzerland, Botta has carried out intense teaching activities with lectures, seminars and courses in many schools of architecture in Europe, Asia and America since the early days of his career. During his time in China, Botta is scheduled to host a lecture at Tongji University, a master class at Tsinghua University’s School of Architecture and a discussion with young architects at Vitra’s Showroom in Chengdu.

“Switzerland is a leading country in innovation in a wide range of areas, architecture is no exception. It is a place where the architecture mixes tradition and innovation wisely. Many of the works by Mr. Mario Botta are the best examples of the case. By having Botta back to China for the second edition of the Sino-Swiss Architecture dialogue, we hope to share with the audience the Swiss innovative spirit, our approach and our know-how,” said Swiss Ambassador Bernardino Regazzoni prior to the dialogue.