Carlo Scarpa's cemetery for Brionvega boss
How the Italian architect honoured a design genius and "man of the people who had started from the bottom”
Carlo Scarpa was one of the second generation of Modern architects – however, as a son of Venice, he was sympathetic to that city's archaic culture, and made his name through a number of commissions and renovations in which he used Modern methods and spatial concepts to transform Venice, rather than crudely obliterate its ancient identity. He understood that the past is not dead and that we in the present must engage and intertwine with it.
Scarpa did not confine himself to Venice, however. Indeed, perhaps his most visited and famous work was the last he completed in his lifetime – the Brion Cemetery at San Vito D'Altivole, a small village not far from the Dolomite Mountains. This was the birthplace of Giuseppe Brion, founder of the prestigious Brionvega electronics company, who Scarpa admired as a man of the people, who had “started from the bottom”, as well as for the design quality of his products, many of which are museum pieces today.
When Brion died in 1968, his family bought a large, L-shaped piece of land around the existing village cemetery in which to house his tomb. It was Scarpa's task to devise an impressive memorial, with multiple features in the Modern style that was nonetheless respectful rather than overbearing. Between 1969 and 1977, he created a setting that was not only a fitting memorial but in its deployment of light, form and space, also a place for the living to engage in contemplation. This is particularly evident in the magnificent meditation pavilion, set in a large square pool surrounded by a concrete wall and a band of coloured tiles. It is painstakingly designed to guide our eye around its perfectly juxtaposed features – the ideal salute from one ingenious craftsman to another. If you want to know more check out our Carlo Scarpa monograph in the online store.