(b. 1869, Milano, d. 1917, Milano)


Italian architect. He graduated in architectural design from the Accademia di Brera in Milan, attended courses for builders and then worked in the office of Luigi Broggi (1851-1926) before practising independently. Although some early works are typical of late 19th-century neo-Baroque, with heavily bracketed projections and overhanging cornices, Sommaruga is best known as an exponent of Stile Liberty (Italian: Art Nouveau). His style incorporated flowing bands of colour by using sculptural decoration (sometimes asymmetrical to windows) and high- and low-relief figural and floral bands, panels and friezes, executed in contrasting materials, often garnishing comparatively plain brick or stone surfaces.

Sommaruga's Palazzo Castiglioni (1904) is a Gesamtkunstwerk, with decorative wrought iron by Alessandro Mazzucotelli (1865-1938), carved woodwork by Eugenio Quarti and sculptured low-relief panels by Ernesto Bazzaro (1859-1937), which were later transferred to the Villa Romeo (1912-14), Milan. The rich and sensuous personal style characterizes a series of villas and mausolea built for the early Milanese industrial bourgeoisie, such as the Palazzo Viviani-Ghiberti (1906-07), Trieste, its lowest storey awash with figural and organic high reliefs; and the villa for Gustavo Faccanoni with a family mausoleum (1907-08), both at Sarnico, Bergamo. The last is one of Sommaruga's best-known works, in which massive buttress-like staircase spandrels rise to a tetrastyle sculptural centrepiece.

Other funerary monuments followed, including the Moretti aedicula (1913-14) in Milan and the Salmoiraghi mausoleum (1915-16) at Lanzo d'Intelvi, Como. Sommaruga's major mature work was the eight-storey Grand Hotel Tre Croci and the attached funicular station (1908-12) at Campo de Fiori. They are at the top of the Sacre Monte di Varese, where the rubble stonework of the lower storeys merges into the hillside, and incredible wrought-iron sculptures crown the pylons of the funicular entrances.