Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Carlo Scarpa - a Venetian architect

Carlo Scarpa (June 2, 1906 – No­vem­ber 28, 1978), was an Venetian architect, in­flu­en­ced by the ma­te­ri­als, land­scape and the his­tory of Ve­ne­tian cul­ture, and Japan.

His ar­chi­tec­ture is de­eply sen­si­tive to the chan­ges of time, from sea­sons to his­tory, roo­ted in a sen­suous ma­te­rial ima­gi­na­tion. With the same sensitivity he also designed furniture and glass.

I would like to introduce you to two of his projects in Venice and Verona and his glass work because of its importance for Venice.

_Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice
The Museum of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia is one of the most important examples of a museum dedicated to a building as part of the Venetian life and history. The Querini Stampalia Palace from the 16th century was restored by Carlo Scarpa, Valeriano Pastor and Mario Botta within different decades. Carlo Scarpa restored part of the ground floor between 1959 and 1963.

When you have a closer look at the pictures you will see, that Carlo Scarpa had a strong and modern architectural vision. But he used it in layers to show the contrast between the old and the new. It is always a difficult question how to treat the old substance in a renovation with respect. It would be probably most harmonic for the eyes to just rebuild the missing parts and give the illusion of the history. But Carlo Scarpa has chosen to show the history of the building in its layers.

_Castelvecchio, Verona
A good example for the different approaches of restoration is the Castelvecchio in Verona which was originally restored already in the 1920s. Main concern of the work was to rebuild the buildings, which was hiding the actual history of the site.

Referring to this, Scarpa stated in a lecture of 1978; "Castelvecchio was all deception" In contrast, Scarpa's approach was to expose, rather than brush over, the differing layers of the history at Castelvecchio. At juncture of missing structure, Scarpa most vividly stripped back the historical layers, reconnecting the spaces with distinctly modern elements that serve to juxtapose the different periods of the buildings' development.
You can easily witness this method standing in the courtyard where the statue of Cangrande della Scala stands upon a remarkable concrete structure, in a break between the buildings.

_glass design
During the years of 1932 and 1947 the Venetian architect rejected the building mania of the fascists and concentrated on glass work as creative director of Venini Glassworks. As Carlo Scarpa is often admired as a hands-on sculptor within his architectural work, he has worked with the same craftsmanship, detail and sensitivity for the material as a glass designer.


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