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2007/2008 Prizes
HONOR PRIZE
CLIENT Arcidiocesi di Torino. Cardinale Severino Poletto, arcivescovo
PROJECT Studio Architetto Mario Botta
TITLE Chiesa del Santo Volto
CONSTRUCTION 2006 - Torino, Italia
Chiesa del Santo Volto
Santo Volto Church is the product of an urban development scheme aimed at recuperating industrial areas abandoned in the 1970s, without losing that characteristic feeling of having been a "citadel of labour". The new centre encompasses all the services of a Curia forced to measure up to the risks and hopes associated with a church serving the city.
The church, which has a central building plan, is surrounded by seven towers and the lower chapel buildings. The heptagonal base plan allowed an axis to be introduced running from the entrance-altar to the city. The void created on the inside derives from an alternating combination of the solid and empty gores of the pyramid-shaped roof. The image of the "Holy Face" has been reconstructed behind the altar through a clever stone texture worked into two different forms, so as to create a shadowy area and flat side to reflect the light.
The old steelworks chimney has been kept as a symbol of both its old and new usages: on one hand it testifies to the place's industrial origins, on the other it is a tower bearing a cross. Despite working in different realms, the architect and client were both driven by the desire to give the city a religious work of architecture of the highest quality and a place of great spiritual significance, because, as Mario Botta claims, "the construction of a place of worship is a living sign (...) of a space intended to escape the fragility of everyday life."
These words are also echoed by the Cardinal's own thoughts: "This structure, set in an area of the city of Turin which is undergoing fully fledged urban transformation, testifies (...) to how a city as glorious as ours can now identify and upgrade itself through what is new, in order to give a sense of continuity to its history which is so rich in Christian and human values [...]."
Per Mario Botta, architecture and the past and inseparable combination, in the sense that the changes introduced by architecture become part of the human landscape. The importance of light as a generator of space and primary geometric forms are the most distinctive traits of his experimentation, which has taken on all kinds of building types: housing, schools, banks, administration buildings, libraries and museums, not to mention a number of religious buildings over the last decade, including Evry Cathedral and a synagogue in Tel Aviv.

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