Mario Botta: campus with a zoo

In the Belgian city of Genk, the Labiomista space has appeared, a project dedicated to biodiversity by architect Mario Botta and artist Kuhn Vanmechelen. Labiomista will open to the public in May 2019.

Labiomista is a multifunctional campus that combines an exhibition space, a zoo, a shop, an artist’s studio, and a research center on the topic of biodiversity and the breeding of animals and birds.

The initiator of its appearance was Kuhn Vanmechelen, a contemporary Belgian artist. Among his works are paintings, drawings, photographs, videos, installations and sculptures. But Vanmechelen, who works at the intersection of science and art, is best known for the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, first introduced in 2009.

The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project is a long-term cross-breeding project that addresses issues of multicultural society, cloning, globalization, and genetic manipulation. In addition, Vanmechelen owns a farm where he keeps animals, including endangered species, and cooperates with international organizations called upon to return them to the wild.

At Labiomista, visitors can get acquainted with different types of birds and animals, see Kuhn Vanmechelen’s art objects and chicken breeding stations, as well as talks between artists and scientists.

A long dark brick building with a cage in the center and a large greenhouse appeared on the site of a former coal mine. The building was designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta, a student of Le Corbusier, Carlo Scarpa and Luis Kahn, a fan of modernism, an adherent of strict geometric forms and an adherent of historical determinism – his projects are a reflection of the era.

Three-storey building with an area of ​​5000 sq. meters includes a studio, a gallery, meeting rooms, an auditorium and bird cages. Materials – dark local brick, concrete and glass – were chosen to keep the budget down. In Botta’s words, “the building should be a container or a factory where art is the bit that provides color.”

“From time to time you need to control and compress the space around you,” says Botta. “You need human measurements, a more domestic scale.” A huge piece of land to the north of the campus will be left in its “wild” state. In cooperation with the National Parks Department of Belgium, a wolf recovery program will be organized there.

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