Community Architect Carlo Scarpa Blended Culture, History, Religion, and Nature

Carlo Scarpa was born on June 2nd, 1906, in Venice and went on to become a famous designer of industrial architecture. His death came unpoetically after falling down a flight of concrete stairs in Japan. Concrete stairs being a hallmark of his design.

Many of Scarpa’s works were influenced by the materials, landscape, and the history of Venetian culture. Not only this culture, but that of the Japanese too. Scarpa made it a point of fusing together the old and the new, particularly when renovating or refurbishing a building via his associated architect firm. It’s this innovation that stands out to our Shropshire architects at Johnson Design Partnership.

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Scarpa was known for mixing his interests in history, regionalism, invention, and the techniques of the artist and craftsman into his community architect work. This was also true for his furniture and glassworks too, all of which hold his signature trademark for attention to detail.

Scarpa collaborated with glassmakers in Murano and went on to design jars and chandeliers for MVM Cappellin & Co. and Venini. In his later years (1960’s onwards) Scarpa would enter the industrial architecture world. After meeting Dino Gavina, Scarpa would even go on to become the president of the company, Gavina. In 1968, after the founding of Studio Simon, Carlo Scarpa started to design industrial furniture.

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He attended the Academy of Fine Arts (studying industrial architecture studies) before going on to graduate from the Accademia in Venice, with the title of Professor of Architecture. Scarpa also apprenticed with the architect Francesco Rinaldo and would go on to marry Rinaldo’s niece, Nini Lazzari. The title of Professor is not an easy thing to achieve, and yet despite the adversity he faced, Scarpa managed to do it.

Despite being somewhat successful in his own right before World War 2, it wasn’t until afterwards that Scarpa’s best-known works would come to fruition. That said, Scarpa was somewhat of a maverick and refused to sit the pro forma professional exam administrated by the Italian Government after World War 2. As such, he was not permitted to practice architecture without associating with a qualified architect firm. Whilst this may seem a stubborn decision to some, it clearly shows Scarpa’s passion for his craft, in that others still clearly respected him and were willing to let him associate with their architect firms to work with him. Needless to say, this is not a particular area our Shropshire architects take inspiration from, our architects are all qualified.

Whilst Scarpa’s industrial architecture may have been fluid in that it changed with the times, seasons, history of the project, there’s the underlying thread that it was always in his distinct style and incorporated his own innovation and imagination. Scarpa’s genius and ability to adapt his creativity to a specific scenario. Whilst many of his projects were/are located in Italy, Scarpa was known internationally too. Other projects have been completed in Canada, the United States, Saudi Arabia, France, and Switzerland. To travel the world would be wonder enough, to inspire and leave a legacy on foreign lands is even more so.

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Not content with just being a community architect for buildings, Scarpa wanted to share his knowledge and experience with others and was a well-versed teacher too. He taught drawing and Interior Decoration at the “Istituto universitario di architettura di Venezia” from the late 1940s until his death. Scarpa didn’t want to hide knowledge, instead, he wanted to inspire and help others go on to achieve greatness too- a notion that we Shropshire architects fully support.

It’s clear to see that Carlo Scarpa is not just a throwaway name in the community architect world; indeed, nobody should consider themselves as a throwaway, we all leave our mark. What stands out about Carlo Scarpa is how, even though it could be applied to many architects in a broader sense, is HIS uniqueness and innovation in his projects. It’s how time, religion, culture, and nature all blends into one that makes his projects stand out.

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