Northern Italy is full of relics of Carlo Scarpa’s work. The renovation of existing buildings became something of a trademark for the Italian architect.
Carlo Scarpa is best known for his instinctive approach to materials, combining time-honored crafts with modern manufacturing processes. When Barcelona-based photographer and Art Director Teddy Iborra Wicksteed and his girlfriend Mónica spontaneously decided to go vacation in Northern Italy last year, they turned their travels into a Scarpa building quest: “Starting at Varese, heading east towards Verona, Possagno, Treviso and finally Venice,” Teddy recalls.
Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona.
“Verona, our first visit was to Castelvecchio, a fortification built from 1354 to 1376 in the outskirts of the roman centre of the city. The fortification turned in to a museum and Carlo Scarpa was in charge of the restoration during 1959 and 1973. I have never seen anything like this before, every single detail of the interior design is designed by Scarpa, from doorways and staircases to fixtures holding specific artwork, everything was “Scarpian” inside a medieval castle.The circuit of the museum is a bit strange if you are interested in the collection, but it is certainly clever if you want to appreciate the work of interiors, the usage of modern materials and chromatic approach. I somehow had this strange feeling that the restoration was the old part of the building and that the original medieval design was new.”
Banca Popolare di Verona, Verona.
“Our second visit in Verona was the Banca Popolare di Verona headquarters, a restoration and extension of the old building designed by Scarpa during 1973 to 1978. It was a Saturday and we couldn’t walk in the headquarters of a bank, but it was nice and quiet outside so we could relax and pay attention to all the details in the facade. I have read that the main concept was to keep some kind of balance between the old building and the new just like in Castelvecchio, but his intervention and style are so strong that it’s hard to appreciate one single building.”
Tumba Brion. Complejo Monumental, Cementerio de San Vito d'Altivole, Treviso.
“The Brion Tomb is the only Carlo Scarpa building that is isolated and not next to any other building, it’s a monumental complex where you can find a chapel, the Tombs, fountains and sculptures. We are alone, it’s a peaceful place and was the most inspiring day of the trip. The Tomb was commissioned to Scarpa by Onorina Tomasi Brion, the widow of Giuseppe Brion in 1968, it was completed before 1978 when Scarpa died, he is actually buried next to the Brion tomb. The burial areas are absolutely unique, I have never seen concrete worked up this way, everywhere you look there are different geometric details. Color ceramic inlays, reflecting pools all heavily vegetated. The kind of place that gains beauty when abandoned.”
Olivetti showroom, Venice.
“The Olivetti showroom is located in Piazza San Marco, built in 1957-1958. The woodwork and colours are stunning, the terrazzo floor guides you to the main polished concrete stairway that also works as a counter to display the 60’s writing machines. I really liked the importance that Scarpa gives to the screws and frameworks.”
Fundación Querini Stampalia, Venecia.
“The Fondazione Querini Stampalia is a museum and library, established in 1869. In 1961 the director of the Foundation at the time commissioned Scarpa the restoration of the ground floor and gardens of the building. Canal water coming in the ground floor with a stairway for the gondola’s, marble floors, metallic frameworks, polished concrete, water circuits and marble doors. There is a little bar in the garden, probably the only place in venice yo can have a coffee with no tourists. The library of the building is always busy. There was some kind of temporal exhibition in the renovated area, it was quite annoying to be honest, it was disturbing the beauty of Scarpa’s intervention that should probably be an exhibition itself.”