4/16/14 – Carlo Scarpa and the Geometric Field

geometric fields

We returned Sunday night from our ‘North Field Trip’ during which we explored the works of Carlo Scarpa in Verona, San Vito d’Altivole and Venice. There is far too much to be said/shown of the trip (Perugia as urban explorer’s paradise, Palladio and the ‘elastic’ Serlian Order, designing nostalgia at the Tomba Brion) but I should really maintain a thread of consistency with my drawing study, so this sketch is of an imposed geometric field/scaffold at Castelvecchio.

Scarpa was able to respond to the irrational forms of medieval architecture by superimposing these measured, geometric fields. The result is an architecture that has both the precision of modernity and the spontaneity and strata of collage. Many of the spaces feel like inhabiting one enormously intricate detail, and in that realization demand to be touched and seen from every angle in order to be understood. Scarpa is famously quoted for his ‘drawing to understand/learn’, and these spaces remind us of how beautiful architecture can be when it is an extension of manual and tactile thinking.

I am interested in how we are reacting architecturally to the rational forms of modernity in the myriad of contemporary adaptive re-use projects that preoccupy our “postindustrial” cities. Will future reactions be a return to primitive/irrational forms? Is it as simple as Kieran/Timberlake’s mass customization over mass production? A sort of parametric/digital liberation? My hope is that we find ways that are as sensitive and complimentary to modernity as Scarpa was to the medieval context in which he designed.

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