Entreentre visited the Italian architect Carlo Scarpa's Brion family memorial cemetery in San Vito D’Altivole near Castelfranco in the province of Treviso. The memorial cemetery was finished in 1977. It became Carlos Scarpa's last project, he died in 1978.
Seen from above the Brion Cemetery takes the shape of an L that surrounds the existing municipal cemetery of San Vito D'Altivole. From the ground though the Brion Cemetery is a world of its own.
As you arrive along the Via Brioni your initial impression is of approaching a fortress. The narrow cypress trees along the road afford a flickering view of concrete walls and spires of pines which at two pm in the summer, are rendered in dark shadows that contrast the bright sky. Entering the cemetery is unremarkable. You find that you have walked from the parking lot without noticing the transition from the flat farmland through the thick grey mass of concrete walls to stand in front of the entrance to the chapel.
Details are everywhere. The eye is guided via a pyramid logic of geometric steps that develop into folding lines interrupted by details in wood and metal. Where your eye rests for a moment your legs will set you in motion to bring you near enough for the hand to confirm the smoothness of brass, the unexpected warmth of dark steel, the patches of gold painted indents, and the heat of the sun radiating from sharply cast concrete surfaces.
As much else of Carlos Scarpa's work the Brion Cemetery shows his pursuit of an idiosyncratic ornamental language. It appears as if the form and layout of the cemetery grow from this pursuit, and reassuringly the formal fascination and care for minute details take precedence over religious narratives, and leads to comforting, almost complete absence of unreflected Christian symbolic. The backdrop of the village remains a distant companion. Except for the carefully ornamented corners of the exterior wall, the surrounding fields are blocked from view emphasising the sense of the cemetery's isolation.
The Brion Cemetery is a remarkable place, it may restore the visitors faith in this thing called architecture.
The photographs in this montage were made over a 90 minute visit, the time allowed after price negotiations with the local cab driver Benito.
Photograhs by Frederik Petersen