The Swiss architect Giuseppe (Peppo) Brivio is mainly associated with the ‘Ticino school’, despite the term being widely contested. Canton Ticino is a mainly Italian speaking region of Switzerland, and this reflects in the architectural style of the Ticino school. Brivio was one of the Ticinese architects to be able to strike a balance between the Canton Ticino‘s political allegiance to Switzerland and its cultural identity. Brivio has collaborated with well-known Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti among many others. He had studied at the Lyceum and the Polytechnic in Milan and later in ETH Zurich. He was also appointed as a professor at the Ecole d’Architecture of the University of Geneva.

Peppo Brivio: Ideology and Philosophy - Sheet1
Peppo Brivio_©Giornale dell’architettura

Brivio’s style used both modern and vernacular principles of the region. Considered as the “intellectual architect”, he was known for his research and broad understanding of the subject. He worked with several other architects developing his modern style of architecture. Initially, Brivio looked up to Frank Lloyd Wright in creating interlocking forms that come together as one. His use of these principles can be seen in many of his works such as the apartment buildings Abairone and Cate in Massagno. 

Brivio later developed his style on the concepts of neoplasticism. Through his use of the triad – base, body, crowning – one can see his research and implementation on the same. But what makes his buildings stand out is the volumetric composition in his work and choice of materials. This is evident in the design of the apartment building Casa Cate in Massagno, Canton Ticino. In this particular building, the architect has used volumes in a rhythmic pattern that appear to move up and down. This play of volumes creates a visual rhythm that is striking to view in addition to the angled balconies and walls in the façade that enrapture the viewer. 

As for the interiors, the form has allowed the creation of spacious areas for the apartments in the building. The exterior curtain protects the interior spaces and creates private loggias for the residents. Every floor consists of one apartment, which can be accessed by a staircase and a lift. All the rooms of the apartment are arranged linearly, with a single long passage running through the length of the building connecting the rooms. A separate kitchen is provided to every apartment unit with an open plan living and dining space.  

Peppo Brivio: Ideology and Philosophy - Sheet2
Casa Cate by Peppo Brivio_©Fondazione archivi architetti Ticinesi

Another example is the apartment building Albairone, which is also in Massagno, divided into three clusters of sorts that make up the entire building. Each cluster has four apartments on each floor, making a total of 12 apartments on each floor. Every cluster has a separate staircase and lift for access and are not interconnected. As with the earlier mentioned project, this one also features a rhythmic façade. This is one of Brivio’s signature styles where there are alternating volumes in the façade. This reflects in the interiors with alternating loggias or balconies on every floor. 

Peppo Brivio: Ideology and Philosophy - Sheet3
Casa Albairone by Peppo Brivio_ ©Elara Fritzenwalden
Plans of Casa Albairone by Peppo Brivio_©Elara Fritzenwalden

Both of these projects of Brivio explain his philosophy and ideology. Both are built with RCC as the core structure, while Casa Cate has exposed brick walls used for a part of the façade. The architect has created a unique design philosophy with a base of modernist and neoplastic design philosophies. His use of simple geometry is poetic in many ways, being aesthetically appealing as it is practical. 

Brivio travelled a lot adding to his interest in the field of research. The architect documented most of his journeys as he learned from them. One particular instance of this is his use of the principles of Islamic architecture in a project called Casa Koerfer, which was not realized later. He referenced the design philosophy of Louis Kahn while utilizing the architecture principles used in Islamic architecture in the Far East. 

Brivio and architect Vittorio Gregotti had developed a close friendship while collaborating on a project. Gregotti defines his first meeting with Brivio as the one that made a lasting impression on him. The architect spoke about Brivio’s vivid cultural background that reflects in his designs. He has also said that Brivio’s methodology and approach to a project have greatly contributed to the architecture of post-war Switzerland; mainly the Italian regions of the country.

Brivio’s thorough research and utilization of the principles of neoplasticism in addition to his unique style has garnered much attention from his fellow architects. Many of the architect’s principles form the basis of the Ticino school. Brivio is credited with spreading the modern movement in Ticino. Despite his immense contributions to architecture, Brivio has remained in the shadows. However, architects of the younger generation like Mario Campi, Luigi Snozzi and Livio Vacchini revered him as a master.


  1. Second Wiki. Peppo Brivio. [Online]. (Last updated 26 November 2020). Available at: [Accessed 5 December 2021].
  2. Nicola Navone (2016). Peppo Brivio, master of the Modern in the Canton of Ticino. [Online]. (Last updated 24 February 2016). Available at: [Accessed 5 December 2021]. 
  3. Rajesh Heynickx (Anthology Editor), Ricardo Costa Agarez (Anthology Editor), Elke Couchez (Anthology Editor) (2021). Architecture thinking across boundaries- knowledge transfers since the 1960s. E-book: Bloomsbury Visual Arts.
  4. Espazium (2013). An intellectual architect. [Online]. (Last updated 15 October 2015).Available at: [Accessed 5 December 2021]

Sanika Palnitkar is an architect who loves to read. She finds science fiction fascinating and one of the reasons for joining architecture. Other than that, she prefers reading or watching thrillers, mysteries, adventures or fantasies (nerd stuff). Learning new software is another one of her hobbies.