Diary of Vardiya 5 – Taking Scarpa for a Walk

16th July Monday

An early morning for all as we rush into Venice. Aptly met by the ocean breeze as the valpaerto is the first introduction- Panorama Valencia! Immediately drawn into the life of Scarpa, we lazy move toward Murano, home of the glass factory where Scarpa became an artisan in his formative years. It was here that a love of the materiality was born. Where the molding of space and form was rout from fire, hammers and water. Poetically the birth of Venice as the artisan crafts visions into objects of absolute admiration. Here 20 years shall pass before the master is born. Here the furnaces burn and create jewels. It’s is here that Scarpa fell in love. Thousands of drawings as Evidence and as a final act a new technique, bubbles in the glass. It is clear that it was the crafting of the objects as jewels that informed the architect to follow.

The end begins with the dawn of the storm – drawing Venice from Murano. Gloom sets over the city as the sun peers under the clouds to meet the church towers and floating cemetery. A battle of light between Zeus and Heluis- music and order. Here we disperse as the clouds give way to heavy drops- homeward bound to the residents a monastery.



17th July Tuesday

Sketching Venice with its people flow was the first thing we did early in the morning. Alessio was so kind to find each one of us from every hidden corner to help us improving our sketching skills through his perspective. Witnessing the never-ending circulation of the boats in the narrowest canals reveals city’s unique transportation system. Bottega on the other hand was a life time experience where we met greatest masonry master who Scarpa works with. More we learnt about the great number of the tools, the more we appreciate the complexity of the marble craftsmanship. The marble sculptor also emphasizes that marble could only be at its perfection if the strength meets the intricacy. Awed by the magical Venetian marble, it was time for us to see Giardini. Finally! Despite the extreme hot and the the tourist invasion, we eventually made it to the almighty Giardini. We had only 3 hours to see all the pavillions. But the challenge was accepted! It was quite interesting to enter the ambitious designs of the pavilions with the immense font of their nationalities, and found completely the counter idea which deals with the freespace. As we were rushing to see all the pavilions, we were sure that we had to come back. The idea of freespace and the biennale as the concept were the critical themes that we were discussing among ourselves. Moreover, Tom Avermaete created an outstanding discussion on 3 metaphors of the Biennale: mirror, diaphragm and the lens which gave a completely new perspective on the aim of the biennial. We are completely exhausted at the end of the day but fully satisfied of what we had through.

18th July Wednesday

“The Truth is in the Making.” – A Conversation between Architecture & Craftsmanship

On the third day of Taking Scarpa for a Walk, our journey was based around craftsmanship. After a quick sketching session at San Marco with Alessio, we learnt about the pattern language of the architecture in the square. One important drawing skill gained was to know what you want to express in a sketch and to be selective with the lines instead of trying to depict everything. Following the sketching session, we headed towards the northern edge of Piazza San Marco to visit Scarpa’s Olivetti Showroom, an elegant space with every detail of the room beautifully crafted – the soft and delicate palette, the perfect blend between the logo and the material, the mosaic-like flooring with each element of the patterns being unique on its own, the subtle screen filtering light through windows that look like eyes…. There was also nothing better than sitting inside the showroom and learning about the architectural piece through a lecture by a Venetian master. The rest of the day was spent walking around Venice with professor Moria Valeri who took us to the last workshop in Venice that still makes Gondola with traditional crafts, then the Fortuny building, University of Venice at Tolentini where Scarpa designed the entrance, as well as the Capovilla Carpentry where Scarpa did most of his wood designs. Throughout this series of visits, the most important thing we learnt was that the architecture in Scarpa’s point of view always has an intimate relationship with craftsmanship. It is always an ongoing conversation and two-directional learning between the architect and artisan throughout each design process. You may only find the truth if you work with your hands.

19th July Thursday

First, in the morning we went to Arsenale and saw the installations for the first time in Corderie. After an hour-long exhibition, we returned to the pavilion for the online meeting with Aydan Volkan. We talked about architecture and free space which is the theme of this year’s biennial with Volkan. We started off for the Fondazione Querini, where we could see the touch of Carlo Scarpa. In 1949 the Presidential Council of Fondazione Querini Stampalia decided to start the restoration of some parts of the Palace. The renovation works by Scarpa are based on a balanced combination of old and new elements, as well as on a great craftsmanship of the materials. After we finished the tour at Querini, we took a lunch break. Then we headed toward Zanon, the workshop for Scarpa’s metal works. We took a short tour of the region, known as the world’s oldest Jewish ghettos, on our way to Zanon. When we arrived at the Zanon Metal Workshop, we had a very warm welcome from Paolo Zanon. For the next two hours, Paolo told us the memories of Carlo Scarpa and his father, Francesco Zanon, and how careful Scarpa is with the details. After this long day, we enjoyed Venice by having an aperitivo all together in a region close to Zanon’s workshop.

20th July Friday

The day started for us in the morning at 11:00 am at the Turkish Pavilion. We had a little introduction on how we can make the model for the ‘’take Scarpa for a walk’’ exhibition. We had about 5 hours to finish the models. The target of this task was to reflect Scarpa’s architecture, design or thoughts. We’ve seen so many different buildings of Scarpa and really nearly figure out his way of design. We took a lot of pictures and captured every Scarpa moment with our minds. And with this amazing knowledge about Scarpa, we had to reflect his design into a model. Every one of us just has had a new experience with the material we used. It was called carton legno. It is like cardboard, but it has a little bit more of an intensive structure. It is also a little bit heavy but also has a smooth and soft surface.

After we finished, we had a live conversation with the firm Olson Kundig from Seattle. The presentation was really amazing and they just helped us to really understand the relationship between mechanical and architectural design. Their way of seeing architecture was really similar to Scarpa’s. They are just focused on transformations in the buildings and they see the whole building as a design object and try to design it as adaptable as they can. You can see that Scarpa’s way of thinking before 100 years is reflecting the 21st century. Their designs are new but the mechanical process is very traditional. They also think always about the environmental sustainability of their buildings, which is always an important challenge for them in their projects. After this live broadcast, we had a lecture with Maria Grazia Eccheli and Elena Pazzaglia about Scarpa, to really understand Scarpa’s way of thinking. The reasons why he used a certain material at this point, why the window is placed there and why the sculptures are in that way looking the way they look now. The day ended at 8 pm for us.

21st July Saturday

The sixth day of our “Vardiya” in Venice started at the Turkish Pavilion early in the morning. The production day began with “linocut”. Linocut is a relief printmaking technique, which seems easy but requires very patient and delicate process. Each member of the team tried to investigate different details, drawings, textures of Scarpa and interpreted them with the linocut technique. Colored papers with different textures created some interesting combinations. We have also created the titles of each artisan workshop we visited using the Venetian style font “Bodoni”. All stamps were colorfully painted and stamped on various types of papers.

Another group worked on the video production for the exhibition. Main points in the video were showing the production of workshops and the brilliant mechanical details of works of Scarpa. They combined these videos with the recordings of our ideas about Carlo Scarpa and his works. One of the other tasks of the day is the design of the “Taking Scarpa for a Walk” exhibition. We discussed some ideas for the exhibition with a great respect to Scarpa’s way of design. He always has a great respect for materials and increases the essence of every element by separating each one from another. After trying some arrangements for the exhibition design, we came up with the idea of a layout, which reflects the ideas and way of his designs; nothing touches each other.

We completed the day with the inspiring presentation of the undergraduate chair of the Syracuse University School of Architecture, Assistant Professor Lawrence Davis. He mentioned the heterogeneity of architecture and the importance of collage as a tool for design and space creation, which putting unexpected conditions together like modern and traditional, old and new, conventional and unconventional. He explained the importance of Scarpa with that approach and compared his work and approach with the context of America and American architects. The day was completed with a speech that broadened our horizons with different perspectives and contexts.

22nd July Sunday

The last day of our shift in Venice started in the early morning at 9 am at the Pavilion of Turkey.  We had the last touch on our works to get ready for “Taking Scarpa for a Walk ” exhibition. The day before we had some ideas about the exhibition and after trying some arrangement for it, we decided to make an idea of “nothing touches each other”. Drawings, models, and videos must be separated from each other but should be in contact with the person who gets in the exhibition. That is why we hang drawings on a tightrope, put models on the boxes and videos on the screen.

After working for 2 hours,  we had a conversation with Tobias Scarpa at 11 am. Tobia’s lecture was a unique experience, even though he spoke Italian, we could feel a great atmosphere. Struggling to translate the transcendent discourse of Scarpa’s Son, Tobia demonstrated a particular personality, incomparable with Carlo Scarpa’s. After this last lecture, at 13.00 we all shared with Tobia the result of a one-week experience. At 14.00 we had the chance to visit for the last time the exhibition at Giardini and Our week was officially over.

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