Chapel Of St Mary Of The Angels
Monte Tamaro, Ticino 
1990 - 1996

Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels,
Monte Tamaro, Ticino
1990 -1996



Alpe Foppa, Monte Tamaro (Rivera),  Ticino, Switzerland

Commissioned by
Egidio Cattaneo

Surface area
chapel 184 m²,

Exterior walkway
150 m²

2’820 m³

The building 'detaches' itself, as it were, from the mountain, to form a new horizon, the starting point of an ideal viaduct. The passageway begins at the natural slope of the mountain, and offers two paths -one, open air, leading out to a belvedere that looks out across the valley, and another leading down inside the walls towards the church entrance beneath. The roof of the chapel is formed by the amphitheatre-type steps, turned back towards the mountain, thereby negating the very idea of a roof and transforming the architectonic gesture into a continuous passageway that offers new mountain views. The overall structure is more than just a new building, it is a manipulation of the existing landscape. The plastic forms, the transverse composition, and the innovative configurations make up a kind of 'negative' image gathered beneath the horizon of the walkway. Inside, the circular space of the church has three naves; the lower central one is distinguished at the entrance by two heavy columns, and narrows towards the area of the small apse that protrudes from the main volume of the church. Intense, full overhead light floods this small apse, highlighting the sign of prayer manifested by the two hands depicted on the wall by Enzo Cucchi. The internal perimeter of the chapel is distinguished by twenty-two floor level embrasures that open to the magnificent valley landscape beyond. In this cuts,  we find a series of engravings by Cucchi on the theme of Santa Maria degli Angeli, to whom the church is dedicated. The internal space thrives upon the magnificent contrast between the 'formless' circular walls, covered with blackened lime mortar, and the linear white outlines of the ceiling, which introduce a 'smudge' of light that is dispersed along the stepped form of the ceiling.