Interior Alchemy: Carlo Scarpa’s Palazzo Querini Stampalia
There are few architects throughout history that have been as sensitive and inventive as Carlo Scarpa [1906-1978]. Scarpa would spend hours moving a single line around on his drawings; which was not just a way to communicate to contractors but, a way of thinking. Scarpa thought deeply about each project, focusing attention on every detail. He would not be comfortable to sit behind a desk and would spend time on each construction site working closely with the masons, metalworkers and other trades people; altering and perfecting the experience of the architecture. Scarpa’s architecture was above all—experiential. This aspect of sensitivity and invention can be seen in his small 1959 project for the architect’s hometown, Venice’s Palazzo Querini Stampalia.
The Palazzo Querini Stampalia is home to the Querini Stampalia Foundation, an organization supporting the arts in Venice. In 1949, the director of the organization hired Carlo Scarpa to renovate the lower level of the Palazzo and the back gardens which were in deep need of repair. The rest of the Palazzo would function largely as a museum holding a series of changing exhibits. The ground floor of the Palazzo was considered unusable space for art exhibitions due to the flood waters of Venice and was planned as a place for small event and group gatherings.
Scarpa’s inspiration for the project came from the water canals of Venice with its high and low tides. The solution was to move people, like water, cascading them up and down various levels while suspending them above the actual water. Most of Scarpa’s works were within existing buildings and he felt that his “interventions” should comfortably co-exist with the original architectural fabric while simultaneously standing apart as something else.
Can’t make it to Venice? Why not check out Carlo Scarpa’s work with the iconic glass company Venini in a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Company, 1932–1947. Exhibit runs November 5, 2013 – March 2, 2014.