In 1949, the Querini Stampalia Foundation decided it was time to restore part of its headquarters – the 16th-century Querini Palace, in Venice. The director, Manlio Dazzi, entrusted Carlo Scarpa with the project, which also included a garden that had been used as a holding area and needed rearranging.
Scarpa saw in this outside space a “Cinderella” waiting to be transformed. He decided to make it a crucial part in the ground floor’s renovation, so that it could blossom into a wonderfully refined garden, fit for the institution Giovanni Querini conceived in 1868 to “promote the love of good studies and useful disciplines”. Scarpa’s renovation, carried out between 1961 and 1963, set out to turn obstacles – like the narrow spaces and little light – into aesthetic assets.
The Venetian architect followed the same approach also for the “portego” (the space underneath porticoes, in the local dialect), where the stone-covered cement path helps to regiment high water’s periodical invasions. A colleague of his, who supervised the renovation, wrote, “High water come in, come in! Like in the rest of the city. You only need to contain it, to govern it, to use it like a luminous and reflective material: then you will see light play its tricks on the ceilings’ yellow and violet stuccos. Wonderful!”.
Here, distant eras spark a conversation that happily intertwines with the dialog between nature and human endeavors. Here, obstacles turn into unexpected opportunities for beauty.