08.03.2017

Carlo Scarpa’s Venice

​A short journey through the places in town that carry the signature of its most famous and unforgotten architect

  • Carlo Scarpa’s Venice
  • Carlo Scarpa’s Venice
  • Carlo Scarpa’s Venice
  • Carlo Scarpa’s Venice

Carlo Scarpa must have loved his hometown dearly. Born in Venice in 1906, an old-school architect following the tradition of the great masters of the likes of Bramante, Palladio and Borromini - but also a great admirer of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright - Scarpa he has left the mark of his exceptional talent on many places across the city.
 
These include not only new and imaginative spaces, but also major restoration works in which he managed to intervene with subtlety and respect for the past.
 
One of the most significant examples of intervention on an existing building is the Querini Stampalia Foundation in Campo Santa Maria Formosa. The restoration of the sixteenth-century palace by Scarpa, developed in 1949 and carried out between 1959 and 1963, includes, in addition to the access bridge and the entrance, even the ground floor, which was constantly threatened by high water, and the garden, then completely abandoned. Scarpa was able to juxtapose new and old features with great skill, integrating the water into his project and indeed focusing on this element through the bulkheads, the large garden tub and a small canal at whose ends there are two labyrinths carved in alabaster and Istrian stone.
 
"If you want to be happy for life, build a garden", once said the great architect. And the garden was in fact one his favorite themes. His famous Garden of Sculptures at the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennial, built in 1952 and recently renovated, plays with light, shadow and water. Three heavy elliptical columns support a canopy roof which is shaped as if three circles would have been subtracted from a rectangle.
 
Another must-see of Scarpa’s Venice is the Olivetti Showroom in Piazza San Marco, a small store on two floors that Scarpa designed in 1958 after winning the National Olivetti Award for Architecture. Despite the small size of the space, the architect was able to add amazing transparency and make it breathe, once again perfectly balancing the modernity of his design with the Venetian architectural tradition. The project showpiece is undoubtedly the magnificent staircase with staggered steps, placed at the center of the entrance to break up the store space.
 
Finally, Scarpa worked on the restoration of the two major city universities, Ca' Foscari and the Higher Institute of Architecture. The restoration of Ca' Foscari was carried out in two successive interventions, in 1936 and in 1956, on different areas, including the entrance and the Main Hall.
 
The renovation of the Institute of Architecture, where Scarpa had taught and which awarded him an honorary degree in 1978 (he had graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vicenza) is actually posthumous. The project, developed between 1966 and 1976 but accomplished in 1984, involves the entrance of the athenaeum, where an ancient arch found during the restoration works was laid down horizontally turned into a decorative pool.
 

Author : The Slowear Journal

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Venice  | architecture  | Carlo Scarpa  | restoration  |

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