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Venice 2014

Entrance to Tomb

Brion Tomb Complex, Entrance

Carlo Scarpa, Brion Sanctuary Entrance, ca. 1969-1978, San Vito d'Altivole

The entrance into the enclave introduces many of the project’s essential themes:  the asymmetry of left and right, the construction of thematic views, the negotiation of interrupted passages, the model of Venetian private gardens, the iconography of Venetian Renaissance painting, and the most interesting, the movement and orientation of the visitor’s body in relation to the gardens organization. This image displays the entrance from the public cemetery into the Brion Enclave. The first most clearly visible theme is Scarpa’s reference to Venetian Renaissance painting. When visitors approach the entrance they are greeted by a large, open rectangular concrete structure, but most importantly, the featured interlocking circles that form a vertically oriented mandorla. Within the concrete circles are blue and pink tesserae; this subtle detail adds further depth to Scarpa’s creation. The mandorla holds several religious and symbolic meanings and associations and is a common iconographical device found in Christian, Byzantine, and Gothic art and architecture found in Italy. A typical painting featuring a mandorla usually highlights either the Virgin Mary and Christ child completely surrounded by a mandorla or the body of Christ, again with the mandorla framing the body. This can mean a number of different things, but usually the contents within the “shell” are precious and it is alluding that heaven and earth are interacting, as demonstrated by the intersection of the two halves.

 Being a student of painting and sculpture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts meant that Scarpa was fully aware and encountered works of art that featured the mandorla. As well as his academic background, a former project Scarpa had was remodeling gallery space at The Accademia Gallery in Venice that features pre 19th century Venitian art. 

Brion Tomb Complex, Entrance

Carlo Scarpa, Brion Sanctuary Entrance, ca. 1969-1978, San Vito d'Altivole

The entrance into the enclave introduces many of the project’s essential themes:  the asymmetry of left and right, the construction of thematic views, the negotiation of interrupted passages, the model of Venetian private gardens, the iconography of Venetian Renaissance painting, and the most interesting, the movement and orientation of the visitor’s body in relation to the gardens organization. This image displays the entrance from the public cemetery into the Brion Enclave. The first most clearly visible theme is Scarpa’s reference to Venetian Renaissance painting. When visitors approach the entrance they are greeted by a large, open rectangular concrete structure, but most importantly, the featured interlocking circles that form a vertically oriented mandorla. Within the concrete circles are blue and pink tesserae; this subtle detail adds further depth to Scarpa’s creation. The mandorla holds several religious and symbolic meanings and associations and is a common iconographical device found in Christian, Byzantine, and Gothic art and architecture found in Italy. A typical painting featuring a mandorla usually highlights either the Virgin Mary and Christ child completely surrounded by a mandorla or the body of Christ, again with the mandorla framing the body. This can mean a number of different things, but usually the contents within the “shell” are precious and it is alluding that heaven and earth are interacting, as demonstrated by the intersection of the two halves.

 Being a student of painting and sculpture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts meant that Scarpa was fully aware and encountered works of art that featured the mandorla. As well as his academic background, a former project Scarpa had was remodeling gallery space at The Accademia Gallery in Venice that features pre 19th century Venitian art. 

Presentation of Mary at the Temple

Titian, Presentation of Mary at the Temple, ca. 1539, Venice, Italy

A painting that Scarpa certainly would have been familiar with is Titian’s Presentation of Mary at the Temple. This painting is found in one of the rooms that Scarpa designed at the Accademia Galleries. Specifically in the background of this painting there are mandorla-shaped mountains and the luminous mandorla-shaped halo that encloses Mary as she climbs the steps of the temple amidst an idealized architectural setting, most likely influenced by the architecture of Jacapo Sansovino and Sebastiano Serlion, two important Venetian architects. The importance of this painting’s mandorla-shaped mountain would also tie into Scarpa’s landscape design for the Brion Enclave.[1]

The use of circular forms that make up the mandorla would be repeated throughout the other structures in the enclave, sometimes obvious, other times more discrete. Another architectural element seen throughout each structure is the fluidity created by the use of horizontal and vertical lines. These aid in forcing the viewer’s eyes to different aspects of the structure. Whether drawing them down a long hall or compelling them up a flight of stairs that appear to be seamless and floating. These elements all aid in creating synchronization throughout.



[1] George Dodds, "Directing Vision in the Landscapes and Gardens of Carlo Scarpa," Journal of Architectural Education 57, no. 3 (February 2004): 242, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1425778.

 

Presentation of Mary at the Temple

Titian, Presentation of Mary at the Temple, ca. 1539, Venice, Italy

A painting that Scarpa certainly would have been familiar with is Titian’s Presentation of Mary at the Temple. This painting is found in one of the rooms that Scarpa designed at the Accademia Galleries. Specifically in the background of this painting there are mandorla-shaped mountains and the luminous mandorla-shaped halo that encloses Mary as she climbs the steps of the temple amidst an idealized architectural setting, most likely influenced by the architecture of Jacapo Sansovino and Sebastiano Serlion, two important Venetian architects. The importance of this painting’s mandorla-shaped mountain would also tie into Scarpa’s landscape design for the Brion Enclave.[1]

The use of circular forms that make up the mandorla would be repeated throughout the other structures in the enclave, sometimes obvious, other times more discrete. Another architectural element seen throughout each structure is the fluidity created by the use of horizontal and vertical lines. These aid in forcing the viewer’s eyes to different aspects of the structure. Whether drawing them down a long hall or compelling them up a flight of stairs that appear to be seamless and floating. These elements all aid in creating synchronization throughout.



[1] George Dodds, "Directing Vision in the Landscapes and Gardens of Carlo Scarpa," Journal of Architectural Education 57, no. 3 (February 2004): 242, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1425778.

 

Carlo Scarpa, Brion Sanctuary Entrance Corridor

Carlo Scarpa, Brion Sanctuary Entrance Corridor, ca. 1969-1978, San Vito d'Altivole

After passing beneath the low lintel that brings you toward the interlocking circles you are greeted with a long corridor that runs north and south. The ceiling is faced in rectangular sections of white polished plaster with exposed concrete bands in between. Round brass disks are positioned at the plaster section’s outer corners and the walls feature this same plaster facing that allows the light coming through the double circles to reflect off the polished surfaces. From this entrance you can peer down the long corridor and either turn with the pink ring to the left toward the tomb, seen at the end of the north corridor, or turn with the blue ring, where the southern corridor’s length is darker and becomes more narrow and its destination less clearly visible.[1] The ceiling levels remain the same throughout the corridor, however the floors differ left to right.

In the darker corridor to the right, the steel bands reflect the slices of bright southern light, shining in the floor’s dark surface as they ratchet from right to left until they align along the centre of the narrowed corridor. The left side’s shorter, brightly lit corridor opens to the lawn and toms, contrasting with the right side’s longer shadowed corridor cut open with vertical slices of sunlight, clearly indicating the public nature of the former route and the private nature of the latter, which is reserved for family members.[2]

             

The long dark corrider from the entrance begins to narrow because of a large pool of water that begins outside. Visitors are forced left, toward the water following the floor and walls vertical strips of steel. Once the visitor reaches the end of the long corridor there is a strangely ephemeral gate. This is made from thick-cut glass sheets held together by clips connected to brass tubes at the sides and tops of the glass.  In order to open the door, the glass gate must be pushed down into a fitted slot of concrete requiring the visitor to crouch down and step across the threshold. This is yet another way that Scarpa integrates the visitor and makes the structures more interactive, at the same time incorporating the contortion of the visitor’s body. Once past the threshold the corridor continues and the sound of the glass gate closes you in, and the sound of water rushing off the glass signifies that the glass door was thrust into water below.  Once out of the corridor the sight of sunlight, simple concrete slab floor, and a large pool greets the visitor. Surrounding the pool of water is the concrete wall lined with murano glass tiles in yellow-gold, blue-green, white, black, and silver. The slabs of concrete form a causeway across the pool to a small, wood-walled box shaped pavilion. While standing on the floating island the visitors can see the glass door being opened, but it also allows the visitor to see the process with which the door gets thrust into the ground. There are a series of brass and stainless steel cables, wheels, and counterweights moving on the other side of the corridors wall. This is one of the most dramatic examples of Scarpa’s interest in allowing peoples movements in one space to be registered in another, signaling that others inhabit the place with us and also unifying the two structures together.



[1] Robert McCarter, Carlo Scarpa (London: Phaidon Press, 2013).

 

[2] Robert McCarter, Carlo Scarpa (London: Phaidon Press, 2013), 245.

 

Carlo Scarpa, Brion Sanctuary Entrance Corridor

Carlo Scarpa, Brion Sanctuary Entrance Corridor, ca. 1969-1978, San Vito d'Altivole

After passing beneath the low lintel that brings you toward the interlocking circles you are greeted with a long corridor that runs north and south. The ceiling is faced in rectangular sections of white polished plaster with exposed concrete bands in between. Round brass disks are positioned at the plaster section’s outer corners and the walls feature this same plaster facing that allows the light coming through the double circles to reflect off the polished surfaces. From this entrance you can peer down the long corridor and either turn with the pink ring to the left toward the tomb, seen at the end of the north corridor, or turn with the blue ring, where the southern corridor’s length is darker and becomes more narrow and its destination less clearly visible.[1] The ceiling levels remain the same throughout the corridor, however the floors differ left to right.

In the darker corridor to the right, the steel bands reflect the slices of bright southern light, shining in the floor’s dark surface as they ratchet from right to left until they align along the centre of the narrowed corridor. The left side’s shorter, brightly lit corridor opens to the lawn and toms, contrasting with the right side’s longer shadowed corridor cut open with vertical slices of sunlight, clearly indicating the public nature of the former route and the private nature of the latter, which is reserved for family members.[2]

             

The long dark corrider from the entrance begins to narrow because of a large pool of water that begins outside. Visitors are forced left, toward the water following the floor and walls vertical strips of steel. Once the visitor reaches the end of the long corridor there is a strangely ephemeral gate. This is made from thick-cut glass sheets held together by clips connected to brass tubes at the sides and tops of the glass.  In order to open the door, the glass gate must be pushed down into a fitted slot of concrete requiring the visitor to crouch down and step across the threshold. This is yet another way that Scarpa integrates the visitor and makes the structures more interactive, at the same time incorporating the contortion of the visitor’s body. Once past the threshold the corridor continues and the sound of the glass gate closes you in, and the sound of water rushing off the glass signifies that the glass door was thrust into water below.  Once out of the corridor the sight of sunlight, simple concrete slab floor, and a large pool greets the visitor. Surrounding the pool of water is the concrete wall lined with murano glass tiles in yellow-gold, blue-green, white, black, and silver. The slabs of concrete form a causeway across the pool to a small, wood-walled box shaped pavilion. While standing on the floating island the visitors can see the glass door being opened, but it also allows the visitor to see the process with which the door gets thrust into the ground. There are a series of brass and stainless steel cables, wheels, and counterweights moving on the other side of the corridors wall. This is one of the most dramatic examples of Scarpa’s interest in allowing peoples movements in one space to be registered in another, signaling that others inhabit the place with us and also unifying the two structures together.



[1] Robert McCarter, Carlo Scarpa (London: Phaidon Press, 2013).

 

[2] Robert McCarter, Carlo Scarpa (London: Phaidon Press, 2013), 245.

 

Entrance to Tomb