Landscapes and architecture communicate in a villa overlooking the ocean
In Venice reopens Carlo Scarpa’s unknown masterpiece
Thanks (also) to Steven Holl, the Fondazione Masieri, quasi-unknown to most due to its prolonged closure, returns to its original function
We have Steven Holl to thank if soon we’ll finally be able to rediscover in person one of Carlo Scarpa’s lesser known masterpieces: as a consequence of his intervention, the extended closure of the Fondazione Masieri in Dorsoduro appears set to come to an end. The structure, overlooking the Grand Canal and managed by Iuav (Venice university institute of architecture), will be turned into a guesthouse for international researchers and students.
Originally, the Masieri Memorial had been commissioned to Frank Lloyd Wright by the building’s owner, Angelo Masieri, before his untimely death, but the project was officially rejected by the City of Venice in 1955. It was only in 1968 that Carlo Scarpa, one of Italy’s most important architects and creatives of the 20th century, was charged with getting the reorganisation of the Fondazione underway by redesigning the building’s interior, while maintaining its façade. Scarpa’s plan obtained the approval of Venice City Council in 1972. The edifice was then completed in March 1983, after Scarpa’s death, under the direction of engineer Carlo Maschietto and architect Franca Semi. The structure was for a long time the headquarters of Iuav’s Project Archive and an exhibition space, but it will now reacquire its original function: providing accommodation for deserving youths seriously committed to their studies.
Scarpa’s work will be completed by adding a few rooms to house students and researchers from Italian and foreign universities, who, during the year, will alternate each other as guests of the Fondazione. Some spaces will be outfitted to host didactic activities and workshops organised by international institutions.
The project drew the interest of a US-based architect association, of which is a member the architect Steve Holl, who was willing to fund the entire project on the understanding that, at specific times, he could use the Fondazione Masieri for his activities. New life, thus, for this striking building, which will surely lead to its rediscovery.
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