Venice: Venezuela Biennale Pavilion (Italy)

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion

30100 Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy

Carlo Scarpa (1953-56)

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 02_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Many people visiting the Venice Biennale will walk past this building without taking much notice of its architecture. Those who take notice may have no idea that this is an early Carlo Scarpa design and one of the few that is a new freestanding building rather than a renovation, alteration or addition to a historic building.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 01_Stephen Varady Photo ©

In 1951 the Venice City Council allowed the Biennale an expansion within the Giardini to allow for new pavilions for countries that did not yet have exhibition spaces. A former student of Scarpa’s, Graziano Gasparini, an Italian painter and architect who had moved to Venezuela, suggested that Carlo Scarpa should be engaged as architect.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 04_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The site is small and constrained between the Swiss and Russian pavilions, and contains three substantial trees, however the design manages to incorporate these and create a significant, robust building with minimal materials.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 05_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 06_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The building is comprised of two rectangular concrete volumes, one larger than the other, and slightly offset from each other.

Carlo Scarpa by Robert McCarter - p80, Phaidon, 2013 ©
Plan from Carlo Scarpa by Robert McCarter (Phaidon, 2013)

The off-form concrete accepts the limited means for construction, celebrates the layering of the formwork and texture of the pebbles within.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 10_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 09_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The entry stairs are of the same pebbled concrete but there is a sensitivity in the insertion of timber treads, along with the carefully placed vine.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 03_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 12_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 15_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The entry spaces are a part of the overall composition, with a concrete roof over one section and a slightly lower lightweight roof that leads from the courtyard to the internal volumes.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 16_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 18_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 19_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 20_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The supports for this roof are beautifully detailed in typical Scarpa fashion, with a number of other details scattered around the building and site.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 17_Stephen Varady Photo ©

High up, the internal volumes have large strips of glass to offer views of the sky and trees outside, and draw natural light into the building without interrupting the exhibition walls.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 21_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 22_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 23_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 24_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 25_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 26_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 27_Stephen Varady Photo ©

It is apparent that the Venezuelan economic situation has not allowed for appropriate maintenance and upkeep of the building and we can only hope that a suitable benefactor may be found before this gem deteriorates to much further.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 28_Stephen Varady Photo ©

In the meantime, if you’re at the Venice Biennale (Art or Architecture) then stop, admire and study this building – and learn from the juxtaposition of forms, volumes, materials and details.

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 29_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 30_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 31_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 32_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Venezuela Biennale Pavilion, Venice by Carlo Scarpa 33_Stephen Varady Photo ©

There is a great description of the building in the Carlo Scarpa Publication by Robert McCarter (Phaidon, 2013).

Carlo Scarpa, Phaidon, 2013
Carlo Scarpa by Robert McCarter (Phaidon, 2013)

 

IMAGES

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Place: Venezuela Biennale Pavilion

Architect: Carlo Scarpa

Photographer: Stephen Varady

Additional Information: Divisare (3 Nov 2016)

Map: Venezuela Biennale Pavilion

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