venetian Architect 1906-1978
At a time of standardization most architects looked toward manufactured materials and products. The idea of the craftsman working on individual pieces by hand was no longer widely accepted. Where most architects of that time disregarded the processes of the craftsman as out dated, Scarpa believed in refining materials and forms this way, a feedback loop informing good design.
Carlo Scarpa is known for an attention to detail and I think his iterative process is a large part of why. For Scarpa, a detail of a design could inform the overall composition and that composition could in turn influence the details. The design of a hinge on a gate at Brion cemetery is reflected in the circulation of the overall space. Scarpa carved out slices of negative space where sky would show through in the abstract shapes; a unique experience resulting from a design logic specific to that place. The decisions made to create these spacial abstractions are defined by the same logic found throughout the design. The detail informs the whole, and the whole informs the detail.
At a time when the tools used to design were pencil and paper, tools that inclined themselves toward plan and section drawing, Scarpa’s designs were spatial because his process was as well. Walking through the spaces created by Scarpa reveals all the brilliant relationships of shape, material, form and detail in a way that designing only in plan and section does not achieve easily.
I think the qualities of a thing, how it is made, and it’s relationship to the whole were all very important to him. He would change the shape of stairs. Where other’s might see steps going up, he saw forms and negative spaces that could repeat, turn and interconnect. And the relationship discovered in a new conception of stairs would then ripple out influencing the rest of the space. The space and all it’s details would reverberate back against the stairs influencing their design. This logic of a feedback loop informing good design is one that I find exciting and very influential as a design process.