Scarpa used water as the main medium to incorporate in the design of the Foundation.
The persistent reminder that all or specific qualities of architecture can be achieved without being literal, is established inside the Foundation Querini Stampalia; which is exactly the beauty of it.
After the destructive inundations of the early 1900’s, Carlo Scarpa was commissioned to renovate the damaged ground floor and courtyard of a once 1600’s family palace in Venice. The foundation was set to stimulate and encourage education and foreign knowledge.
What makes Scarpa’s design great, is his clear awareness and understanding that water is a worrying force that should be accepted and not escaped. He used water as the main medium for the design of the Foundation. This becomes clear at the main entrance of the Foundation. To access, one should cross over a small footbridge that leads directly into the ground level entrance hall. This immediately provides the sensation that water becomes that break between two different campiellos or little Venetian squares.
Once inside, the sensation becomes similar when the articulation of spaces is divided in sequencing levels. As one exits the entrance foyer, there are a series of steps leading down to the next lower level. Surrounding all these variation of levels, there’s a continuous wrap around the sides of the walls marking the presence of water inside the building. It becomes unclear where the waterline is precisely located, under or above it. In some instances, it seems that these waterlines where carved out the floor to allow water to freely flow inside, but in other cases, it seems that these waterlines are intersecting the slabs lowering the level and creating a closer connection to the water. The same condition is found in the exterior garden, where a series of floor carvings where done to incorporate flowing water; a lily pads pond and a water fountain. For Scarpa, every detail was a celebration of being surrounded by a canal, which is definitely the richness of the city.
1963 Foundation Carlo Scarpa Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am – 6 pm. Santa Maria Formosa Castello 5252, 30122 Venezia, Italy
Texts, photographs and diagrams by Michelle Chedraui.