With his museum situated on the Rhine, the architect Mario Botta created an unusual stage for Tinguely’s works. In the huge central hall alone there is space for twenty machine-sculptures. After visiting the Museum, the historical Solitude Park with its centenary trees, the promenade along the Rhine and the Bistro «Chez Jeannot» are an invitation to relax, stroll and enjoy the moment.
«With its situation on the right bank of the river, where the Rhine forms the outer border of a large district of the city, the Museum creates a new order within a rather questionable urban design alongside the highway. The rectangular museum occupies the entire eastern part of the Solitude Park. The four sides of the building each relate in a specific manner to the surrounding spaces.»
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Exterior view of the architecture
The southern façade giving on to the river presents a special architectural feature: an elongated suspended section detached from the body of the building, constitutes a kind of riverbank promenade along which all museum visitors must proceed – an itinerary directing the visitor’s eye to the Rhine.
The façade giving on to the motorway in the east is very high, with three levels of exhibition spaces above ground level making it the tallest part of the building; it establishes a sound barrier towards the green spaces.
Facing the park, on the opposite side, the museum consists of five sections, three of which open onto the park through a wide porch.
The northern façade runs parallel to the Grenzacherstrasse. A covered area between the street and the museum provides access to the park and the museum.
Interior of the architecture
The museum interior on the ground floor may be divided by walls that can be raised and concealed in the ceiling. The static support system at this level is coordinated with a pre-existing, underground reservoir (five storeys deep) for treating the Rhine water.
The exhibition spaces consist of four areas of different design and on four different levels.
The first storey (2.90 m above ground level) is reached via the Rhine promenade section; it forms a gallery, open to the ground floor on one side and the exhibition rooms on the other.
At the end of this gallery, the visitor reaches the next storey (at the height of 7.85 m), a series of ‘classical’ rooms with daylight entering through slanted skylights. The route proceeds downwards to a level three metres below ground level, where works are shown that do not require daylight.
The visitor’s tour ends on the ground floor with the huge monumental sculptures. They occupy the museum’s largest exhibition space
(30 x 60 m), divisible into five areas as mentioned above, and facing the park.
Source: Museum Jean Tinguely Basel, The Collection, Bern, Benteli 1996, pp. 276.
Mario Botta (born 1943)
Mario Botta’s architecture is known throughout Europe, the United States and the Far East. Already his early works, such as the library of the Capuchin cloister in Lugano (1976–1979) or the administrative building of the Banque cantonale de Fribourg (1977–1981), attracted widespread attention.
Botta’s buildings respect topographical conditions, regional factors and building materials. His draughts bear the stamp of respect for craftsmanship and are often ruled by an underlying geometric principle.
Through the classical outlines of his buildings from the 1980s, e.g. the circular central building of the cathedral of Evry, France (1988–1995) or the cube-shaped Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, USA (1988–1995) that is dominated by its central circular staircase, the architect from the Canton of Ticino has attained international acclaim.
Since 1970, Mario Botta has also taken on intensive teaching and research activities, holding conferences, seminars and courses in architecture at numerous schools for architecture. Within the framework of the foundation of the University of Ticino, he developed the curriculum of the new Academy for Architecture in Mendrisio, where he has lectured since its inauguration in 1996.