Join our Carlo Scarpa tour of Venice

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Carlo Scarpa’s architecture has a surprisingly calm presence in Venice. Although Scarpa was born in the Italian city in 1906 and spent much of his working life there, you’ll find yourself behind the shop fronts of St. Mark’s Square, wandering into palaces or peeking through the art – hungry crowds gathering at the Giardini in search of his most notable building projects Della Biennale frolic. Scarpa saw no need to make his work more exuberant externally because he was a man obsessed with finer details: such as the way two different stone textures could be combined, how light bounced off a certain type of plaster or the sound of water trickling from a well. He even had a – largely unexplained – fascination with the number 11 that runs throughout his work, along with references to Japanese architecture and Venetian boat building (two other passions of his). For those who want to know more about Scarpa and all its peculiarities, we have compiled a list of must-see attractions in Venice; It includes the architect’s own designs as well as newer venues around the city – like the St. Regis Hotel – that take their cues from Scarpa’s unmistakably modernist style.

OUR CARLO SCARPA TOUR

Negotio Olivetti

Ollivetti Store as part of the Carlo Scarpa Tour

(Image credit: Marco Gaggio)

This shop-turned-museum was originally designed by Scarpa to showcase various models of the venerated Olivetti typewriter, but now – thanks to a careful restoration by the Italian FAI organization – it evokes the architect’s mastery of materials. The store’s exterior is clad in slabs of smooth and rugged stone, while inside is a series of colorful mosaic floors. red in the entrance to attract the attention of passers-by on the street, and sunny yellow in the back room to compensate for the lack of natural light. At the heart of the room is a hanging staircase made of Aurisina stone.

Ticket office of the Biennale

Stop on Carlo Scarpa Tour: Venice Biennale ticket office

(Image credit: Marco Gaggio)

More sculpture than ticket booth, this small project by Scarpa stands empty in the gardens where the Venice Biennale is held. Since its construction in 1951, the crowds have grown too big for the annual art fair to take advantage of. A combination of concrete aggregate and textured glass, the stand is topped by a sail-like canvas roof supported by a trio of hardwood poles – a visual nod to Venetian boat building.

Palazzo Querini Stampalia

Each Carlo Scarpa tour includes the Garden of the Querini Stampalia

(Image credit: Marco Gaggio)

In the 16th century the Palazzo Querini Stampalia was the residence of a noble family, but in 1869 it was converted into a museum, library and archive. Scarpa was invited in 1959 to modernize the cultural institution, installing geometric gates at the entrance that allowed the canal’s water to slosh against the ground floor. He also created a green garden at the back of the building and a showroom with Mondrian-style travertine wall coverings.

Tomba Brion

Tomba Brion outside Venice

(Image credit: Marco Gaggio)

Located about an hour outside of Venice in the modest town of San Vito d’Altivole, Tomba Brion is considered by many to be Scarpa’s major work. Laid out around the sarcophagi of Giuseppe Brion (the founder of electronics company Brionvega) and his wife, the tombs consist of a series of meditative concrete bodies and bodies of water occasionally bubbling with swimming carp fish. Scarpa himself was buried in a quiet corner of the grounds after his death in November 1978.

Masieri Foundation

Fondazione Masieri Venice by Carlo Scarpa

(Image credit: Marco Gaggio)

The Masieri Foundation stands proud on a corner of the Grand Canal. Erected in honor of Angelo Masieri, an associate of Carlo Scarpa, who died in 1952, it was built on the site of a former palazzo originally intended to be replaced by a design by Frank Lloyd Wright that never came to fruition.

Hall Mario Barato

auditorium mario barato

(Image credit: Marco Gaggio)

Aula Baratto is an interior by Carlo Scarpa and is part of Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. It was created in 1935 and originally conceived as the university’s very first large hall. The window frame around the Gothic opening as well as the students’ gallery are part of Scarpa’s design. The room was eventually converted into a lecture hall by the same architect between 1955 and 1956.

St Regis Venice

st regis hotel gallery interior

(Image credit: St. Regis Venice)

The interior of the St Regis Venice, while not the work of the Grand Master himself, is heavily inspired by Carlo Scarpa. The 139-room hotel overlooking the Grand Canal waterfront is dotted with features that reflect Scarpa’s architectural approach and palette of materials — from the polished concrete ceilings to the geometric paneling seen beneath the concierge desks. Downstairs in the hotel’s Arts Bar, there’s even an architect-inspired heady cocktail served in a glass that mimics Tomba Brion’s interlocking circle motif.

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