Scarpa used water as the main medium for 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.
After the destructive inundations of the early 1900s, Carlo Scarpa was commissioned to renovate the damaged ground floor and courtyard of a once, 1600s, family palace in Venice. The foundation was designed 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, which becomes clear at the main entrance. 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 into sequencing levels. As one exits the entrance foyer, there are a series of steps leading down to the next level. Surrounding all the variations 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. As it seems that these water lines were carved out of the floor to allow water to freely flow inside the space. However, 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 were done to incorporate flowing water; a lily pad pond, and a water fountain. For Scarpa, every detail was a celebration of water and 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.