When resources and time do not allow, a moment spent lingering over pictures from past adventures can evoke the same sense of wonder and excitement as a trip itself. Recently we found ourselves reminiscing over the travel we did last year through small towns in Northern Italy, Slovenia and Austria.
Our journey to the Brion Vega tomb started the morning after we set foot in Italy. Overcome with options of where to see Scarpa’s work, and with a sense of freedom that no agenda (and no phone allow), our only plan for the day was to see one of his works in person. After careful consideration over a morning coffee amongst the locals of Padua, it was decided we would head to Brion Vega, and then on into the unknown landscape of Slovenia.
The building lies in an unassuming Italian town known as Santo d’Altivale without much else of note around it. Carlo, an intriguing architect and man, built the cemetery as a private burial ground for the Brion Vega family in 1968, and spent the next 10 years working on the project. Interestingly and unfortunatley, Carlo’s life came to an end in ?? when he fell down a set of stairs. He too now resides in the cemetery - standing up, wrapped in linen sheets.
From the moment you step in front of the building, many Scarpa traits and a sense of mystery abound. His well documented use of cement, has aged in a beautifully natural way, with textures and variation of shades throughout the structure. Along with cement the building makes use of timber, tiles, stones and greenery - used in ways which are slightly uncommon, but make for a pleasing and unexpected combination of materials.
You could not pin this man or this building down to one artistic ‘style’ - although it has been noted and can be seen, that he was influenced by the culture and materials of his home town in Venice, and time spent working and travelling in Japan. The different elements are unexpected, and at times feel at odds, but a consistent theme of materiality, craftsmanship and thoughtful details bring the space together. Perhaps partly due to the nature of it’s purpose as a burial ground, this place feels special, and holds a sense of mystery. And as with so many notable buildings it’s ability to enlighten and expose you to ideas that you may never have seen, or never expected is always captivating.