carlo scarpa, architect: biennale sculpture garden, giardino delle sculture, venice 1950-1952

covered courtyard for the exhibition of sculptures,

central biennale pavilion, venice 1950-1952.

architect: carlo scarpa, 1906-1978.


with spaces like this at the biennale, who can spend time looking at yet another load of renderings and photoshop collages?


a courtyard covered with a sail-like structure is entirely appropriate in italy and beautifully translated into concrete by scarpa.


here is his old love, frank lloyd wright, quoted in the column/planter which covered in foliage stops short of the very roof it is meant to support. here is the crude postwar concrete made attractive by le corbusier but strung out in curves handled with an elegance we have since learnt to associate with brazilian architecture rather than italian.


the 1950's were great years in architecture and what a moment for scarpa to come into his own. and how typical and strangely fearless of him to keep the buildings and architects and artworks that influenced him clearly visible in his own finished works.


when you stand there, though, the place is all about the manipulation of light.


the roof-sail-canopy cuts out direct sun light and instead the light bounced off the reddish-orange brick walls permeates the space, its warmth contrasted only by the reflections from shallow pools of water animated by little fountains.


I don't know who else could get away with that in 1952, post-war reconstruction and all, except possibly wright. but he was a million years old, at which age you can get away with murder.


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the scarpa set.

  • Iqbal Aalam 7y

    Absolutely great.
  • -fCh- 7y

    Brick & Arch; Back to Islamic-, and forth to Louis Khan-arch*tec(s)ture
  • seier+seier 7y

    iqbal: it is the best!
  • seier+seier 7y

    -fCh- what a lovely cryptic comment!

    did you know that kahn and scarpa met here and that they fell for each other's work...kahn even wrote a poem celebrating scarpa - it was clearly a love affair between old men.

    kahn possibly had more to offer scarpa than the other way around, because he had found a way to tap into their shared beaux-art background. I believe it has been argued that scarpa's brion cemetery could not have happened without scarpa meeting kahn.

    as for the islamic, well, that was my thought too when we were there but maybe mediterranean is truer to the actual context -
  • bas kegge 7y

    i think i agree with you about the digital hurricane over there...
    strange world: the more digital power architects seem to have the poorer their products.... happy to see the work of Zaha Hadid though and Scarpa's gems like this.

    and as a kind of greetings:
    DSCN7647 by bas kegge

    but I think you use a better camera...
  • seier+seier 7y

    the hadid paintings were great (that was the first time I understood the hong kong project!) and even more so the old Zenghelis/OMA paintings from Delirious New York.

    but for the biennale as such, I couldn't help but think that it suffered from a false premise from aron betsky; "architecture beyond building" may be architecture without compromise but it is also architecture without any importance.
  • Jérémie Dru 6y

    scarpa is a genius, this curve is amazing
  • seier+seier 6y

  • garebear_nani 5y

    I had no idea about the Kahn / Scarpa meeting here! Do you have any information on any scholarship done about the mutual influence between these two? This is a rather personal subject for me and I would greatly appreciate it!
  • seier+seier 5y

    no, I can't help you with that one. sorry.

    louis kahn's poem to scarpa and a photograph of the two together is in francesco dal co and giuseppe mazzariol's "carlo scarpa. the complete works", page 190. but that hardly amounts to scholarship.
  • garebear_nani 5y

    Ah, I will have to pick that up (if I can find it) !

    Thanks anyway though - that is truly amazing. It is great how they are all linked in one way or another...Kahn, Scarpa, Barrigan, Wright...really begins to dispel the idea of the singular master genius.
  • seier+seier 5y

  • seier+seier 5y

    we have been discussing the connections between the nordic (and catalan) masters here:
    sigurd lewerentz, florist, 1969 by seier+seier
  • Don Armstrong 2y

    Uses modernist element - subtractive opening in floating plane - to frame a distinctly pre-modernist brick wall. Photo really captures Scarpa's brilliant dialectic of abstract and tangible. Thanks for making your image available - I plan to use it in my post next week on the similarities between Critical Regionalism and certain 1950s Brutalist buildings. Although this isn't Brutalist, shares that movement's sculptural use of reinforced concrete. Blogsite: Material Practices
  • seier+seier 2y

    looking forward to it.
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