Carlo Scarpa by Louis Kahn

The last thing Louis Kahn wrote before his death was a poem to his friend Carlo Scarpa - this is what he wrote

We’ve been spending a lot of time leafing through and reading the Carlo Scarpa book this week. It’s one of those books that allows you to dip into certain sections when you’re feeling a bit time poor yet really rewards you when you set aside some serious thinking time for it. 

One of the things that caught our eye last night was something Louis I Kahn said about Scarpa. In a poignant and well observed tribute to the friendship between the two architects, (a friendship based upon, among other things, a profound respect and sense of shared values), the last thing that Kahn wrote before his dramatic death in 1974 was a poetic homage to Scarpa. 

As our new Scarpa monograph points out, the works of Carlo Scarpa must be experienced ‘in the flesh’ to be fully understood – engaging with his architecture requires our being there (which is why Robert Carter takes the reader on a 'walk through' of his buildings in the book). Yet Kahn’s eulogy, in just a few short sentences,  takes the reader a long way to 'being there' in its evocation of a brilliant architectural mind. Here it is:

In the work of Carlo Scarpa


the first sense


the first word

then Wonder

Then the inner realization of ‘Form’

The sense of the wholeness of inseparable elements.

Design consults Nature

to give presence to the elements

A work of art makes manifest the wholeness of the ‘Form’

a symphony of the selected shapes of the elements.

In the elements

the joint inspires ornament, its celebration.

The detail is the adoration of Nature.


The Carlo Scarpa monograph
The Carlo Scarpa monograph


Isn't that great? And if it's left you wanting to learn a bit more about Scarpa and the book, you can read an interview with its editor, Tom Wright here. When you’ve read it you might like to buy it from the people who made it. You can do that by clicking here. And if you'd like to learn more about Louis Kahn, you can do that here

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