Archive for the ‘July 2012’ Category

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Today we visited Carlo Scarpa’s well known renovation of the Querini Stampalis Foundation in Venice Italy, in general, it is a particularly impressive example of a renovation project which layers the past and present constructions into a powerful assemblage.

Front bridge entrance, it is closed as we visited.

Interior Hall

Plan Diagram

The Fondazione Querini Stampalia was founded in Venice 1869 by the last descendant of the Venetian Querini Stampalia. The site is composed of the living quarters, an archive, a library, and a museum of paintings and furnishings. In 1949, the Presidential Council of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia decided to begin the restoration of some parts of the Palazzo Querini. Malino Dazzi, director of the foundation, tasked Carlo Scarpa to restore the ground floor, which was in a state of neglect and decay. The project was completed just over ten years later.The restoration project included careful cleaning of four existing architectural elements: the bridge, the entrance, the portico and the garden.

Scarpa’s museum renovations exhibit his minimalist style within historic buildings, a style that allows the existing context to pass beneath and behind the new work without being disturbed. However, it was not the invention of spatial themes with which Carlo Scarpa was involved, but rather the manipulation of materials in relation to the human body.

For this visit, I focused on two aspects of the building: detail and water


Scarpa’s expression of detail in this building varies at different scale, with different combination of materials, such as steel, concrete, glass and brick. Here are some examples I found intriguing about this building.

This is a staircase at the side entrance, it is an innovative stair to me due to the way that each step continuous and warp around the step above.

This detail shows how concrete hangs out of the brick wall, thus to give a feeling of depth.

This detail is a celebration of the intersection of steel and concrete

A fascinating column detail showing the compositional relationship of glass and concrete

An innovative door, it is a an interesting way to bring light in as well.


Scarpa is a master of using the water as a critical element in his building, what I found interesting is he introduced the experience of water in two different ways: the flowing water and the static water. For the flowing water, it creates dynamic feeling for the space, on the one hand, we can see something flowing compared to the other static objects surrounding it, on the other hand, we can hear the water as well, it is a special feeling as we could “listen” to architecture.

For the static water pool, the transparent nature of water gives us a feeling of brightness. Also, it reflects the scenario surrounding it thus giving an illusionary sense for people. Last but not least, Scarpa loves the zen idea taken from Japanese culture, the static water makes us feel peaceful. Here are some photos I took thus to support my point.

These details show how well done of the usage of water in this building.

San Giorgio Maggiore is a 16th century Benedictine church on the island of the same name in Venice, northern Italy, designed by Andrea Palladio and built between 1566 and 1610. The church is a basilica in the classical renaissance style and its brilliant white marble gleams above the blue water of the lagoon opposite the Piazzetta and forms the focal point of the view from every part of the Riva degli Schiavoni.

Plan and section diagram of the church


The façade is brilliantly white and represents Palladio’s solution to the difficulty of adapting a classical temple facade to the form of the Christian church, with its high nave and low side aisles, which had always been a problem. Palladio’s solution superimposed two facades, one with a wide pediment and architrave, extending over the nave and both the aisles, apparently supported by a single order of pilasters, and the other with a narrower pediment (the width of the nave) superimposed on top of it with a giant order of engaged columns on high pedestals. This solution is similar to Palladio’s slightly earlier facade for San Francesco della Vigna, where the other parts of the church had been designed by Sansovino. On either side of the central portal are statues of Saint George and of Saint Stephen, to whom the church is also dedicated.


What I am interested in this church is how Palladio playing with light,based on the geometry of the church, which is symmetrical along the elongated  longitudinal axis, I assume Palladio use this brilliant idea of carving in the roof to ring light in, and at the same time, the light got reflected and pointed to the longitudinal axis, thus to strengthen the feeling of the space.

Zoomed in shot of the roof, showing the reflection of the light

The bright and spacious interior is marked by symmetry, by the clam, uniform distribution of light that arrives from and so called thermal windows in the form of lunettes, divided into three parts, that reflect the religious sensitivity of monastic times.

Today we visited the boat building workshop at San Trovaso, which is next to the Church of San Trovaso along the narrow Rio San Trovaso, just north of the Zattere. it was first opened in the 17th century.Back in the 16th-century heyday of the gondola, there were upwards of 10,000 of these elegant boats plying the waters of Venice’s canals. Today there are but 350, and the job of gondoliere is still a coveted profession, passed down from father to son over the centuries.

The boatyard is surrounded by Tyrolian-looking wooden structures . I find it is a true rarity in this stone city built on water, and an oddity shared by most boatyard.The wooden structures are home to the multiple-generational owners and original workshops for the traditional boats.

Interior photo of the workshop

A quick sketch of the workshop

Ponte Vecchio in Bassano del Grappa is a wooden bridge, which was designed by the architect Andrea Palladio in 1569. The bridge was destroyed many times, the last time during WWII. The Alpine soldiers have always revered the wooden bridge and Bassano del Grappa. After the destruction of the bridge, they took up a private collection and had the bridge completely rebuilt. Often soldiers flock to the bridge to remember and sing songs from their days as alpine soldiers. The grappa shop of Nardini Distillery is located on the bridge, known as Ponte degli Alpini.

Architecturally thinking, what interests me most is that the bridge has varies detailing and a strong rhythm for the users.  The bridge uses of Tuscanic columns as the support of the lintel that holds the cover. It has varies detailing and a strong rhythm   At its base it’s characterized by large breakwater wooden pylons featuring a trapezoid shape.

perspective sketch of the bridge

From this photo, we can strongly feel the rhythm of the wooden truss supporting the roof and the wooden columns on the side

Detail showing the condition when three members are meeting: the columns, the side beam and the trusses

Detail showing the steel joint between the beam and the truss

Detail shows the connections between two members

Details showing the joint between the base of the bridge and the lower trusses supporting the body of the bridge

All in all, this bridge has the same character as Palladio’s style: symmetrical,  strong sense of order and perfect proportions, it is a great place to visit.

Piazza San Marco is a “L” shape piazza, which is the principal public square of Venice, Italy.The Piazzetta (the ‘little Piazza’) is an extension of the Piazza towards the lagoon in its south east corner. The two spaces together form the social, religious and political centre of Venice and are commonly considered together.

Plan diagram shows the solid and void relationship of this piazza

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Prato della Valle is a 90,000 square meter elliptical square in Padova, Italy. It is the largest square in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe. The square today is a monumental space of extraordinary visual impact, with a green island at the center, l’Isola Memmia, surrounded by a small canal bordered by two rings of statues.

Beautiful view of the piazza with the curve facade along with the curved fountain and pathway

View looking back at the way we approach the piazza

The harmonious facade language with the continuous loggia  on the ground floor defining the boundary of the piazza

Piazza delle Erbe

Piazza delle Erbe

Piazza dei Signori

Piazza dei Signori

Piazza delle Erbe is a square in Verona, northern Italy. Once it was the town’s forum during the time of the Roman Empire. Piazza dei Signori, is a square in the historic center of Verona , next to Piazza delle Erbe .

Verona’s central square Piazza delle Erbe was initially the site of a Roman forum but is now surrounded by palazzi and the venue for a daily market. Many of the wares on offer are of the ho-hum T-shirt variety, but enough fresh produce from the Veneto is on sale to lend an air of authenticity to the marketplace. Standing amid the hubbub is a statue of Madonna Verona, presiding over these scenes of workaday life since 1368. The adjoining Piazza dei Signori is more somber and was for many centuries the scene of such civic affairs as assemblies of the medieval citizens’ council that played a large part in the city government. In the middle of the square is a statue of Dante, who spent part of his years in exile from Florence in the beautiful 13th-century palazzo of the Scaligeri family, which faces the piazza. Walking between these two beautiful squares involves a risk, but only to the truly honest – a whalebone suspended in the Arco della Costa (Arch of the Rib) will fall on the first person to walk beneath it who has never told a lie.

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Castelvecchio Museum (Italian: Museo Civico di Castelvecchio) is a museum in Verona, northern Italy, located in the eponymous medieval castle. Restoration by the architect Carlo Scarpa, between 1959 and 1973, has enhanced the appearance of the building and exhibits. Scarpa’s unique architectural style is visible in the details for doorways, staircases, furnishings, and even fixtures designed to hold a specific piece of artwork.

Above are some photos of Carlo Scarpa’s garden:

Between 1958 and 1974, Castelvecchio, underwent an important and reinstallation of the museum spaces, designed and supercised for the city of Verona by the architect Carlo Scarpa during the directorship of the art historian Licisco Magagnato. The antique arms count, reduced at the beginning of the 20th century to an Italianate garden, was transformed by Scarpa into an extraordinary morden courtyard that complements the architecture with geometrical logic and the use of both traditional Veronese materials, such as Prun stone, and concrete.

This space is both the prologue to the museum visit and a resting slong the route. Several important works in stone are also sited within the garden: two 19th century fountains, an early 13th century sarcophagus, the central rose from the medieval floor of the church of Sant’Anastasia, installed here like an emblem next to the entrance. In addition, the site contains a medieval sundial and the celebrated equestrian statue of Cangrande I della Scala.

Castelvecchio was a castle in ruins before Scarpa was commissioned to restore it as a museum.

Scarpa then used modern materials to renovate Castelvecchio, the result is a surprisingly harmonical composition between old and new.

Scarpa’s attention to details is wonderful. Here’s how he designed his own railings.

He build the stairs accommodated to left and right steps that lead towards the old Castelvecchio.

Ornate metal lattice door designed by Carlo Scarpa.

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Today is our first day in Italy; after taken the flight AA198 from New York to Milan. We stopped in Verona.

Verona is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of northeast Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona covers an area of 1,426 km2 (550.58 sq mi) and has a population of 714,274 inhabitants. It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, owing to its artistic heritage, several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheater built by the Romans. The city has been awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO because of its urban structure and architecture.

Above is some photos I took along the way to show a general idea of the city.