The Sculpture Garden by architect Carlo Scarpa at the Giardini della Biennale in Venice

The Sculpture Garden by architect Carlo Scarpa at the Giardini della Biennale in Venice

Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa’s Sculpture Garden at the Giardini della Biennale features on our Carlo Scarpa tour of Venice and Modern Venice Map. Read on to find out more about its design and history...

What is most striking about the design of Carlo Scarpa’s ‘Sculpture Garden’ of 1952 in Venice is its peaceful dynamism. It features a canopy of three curved roof shades supported by steel spheres and pink plaster columns with recessed planters. Geometric concrete floor slabs surround pools of water with spouts that channel water onto copper discs – the sound of which is designed to encourage peace and meditation.

Carlo Scarpa’s Sculpture Garden is part of the main pavilion of the Biennale’s Giardini – originally known as the ‘Palace of Exhibitions’ and formerly known as the ‘Italian Pavilion’ and the 'Pro Arte' pavilion. The building dates back to a 1894 design by Enrico Trevisanato, with a facade designed by Marius De Maria and Bartolomeo Bezzi. In 1932 the facade was redesigned by Duilio Torres to the form we see today. Today, and since 2011, the façade reads ‘La Biennale’. It is located next to the Biblioteca dell'Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee (The Historical Archive of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) ), the Biennale’s library, located in the former Auditorium of 1977, which holds the collection of books of La Biennale di Venezia.

The Sculpture Garden came about because back in 1948, Scarpa was commissioned to renovate the Italian Pavilion, which happened in many stages. For example he added a first floor level to the pavilion and redesigned the adjacent Book Pavilion. In 1952 space for a courtyard was created at the Italian Pavilion building for ventilation and outdoor exhibition space for visitors to pause and rest. The roof in a formerly covered room was demolished and perimeter walls stripped of plaster to expose the brick. His design for the Sculpture Garden was inspired by the wooden canopy structure of the Biennale Ticket Booth inspired by the form of a boat.


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