»Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins.«

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A Concrete Garden

Carlo Scarpa’s Brion Tomb

  • Looking through the “mandala” into the meditation pavilion at Carlo Scarpa's Brion Tomb. (All photos by Nuno Cera) 1 / 8  Looking through the “mandala” into the meditation pavilion at Carlo Scarpa's Brion Tomb. (All photos by Nuno Cera)
  • Of the tomb, architect Carlo Scarpa wrote, “I consider this work, if you permit me, to be rather good... 2 / 8  Of the tomb, architect Carlo Scarpa wrote, “I consider this work, if you permit me, to be rather good...
  • “...and which will get better over time.” 3 / 8  “...and which will get better over time.”
  • Familiar tropes of Scarpa's work are incorporated into the tomb and its surroundings, including water features... 4 / 8  Familiar tropes of Scarpa's work are incorporated into the tomb and its surroundings, including water features...
  • ...geometric patterns and circular entranceways... 5 / 8  ...geometric patterns and circular entranceways...
  • ...and rough concrete finishes. 6 / 8  ...and rough concrete finishes.
  • “I wanted to show some ways in which you could approach death... 7 / 8  “I wanted to show some ways in which you could approach death...
  • ...in a social and civic way.” 8 / 8  ...in a social and civic way.”

Photographer Nuno Cera took a trip to the family tomb of Giuseppe Brion, founder of the Brionvega electronics company, to explore the concrete geometry and beauty of Carlo Scarpa's famous monumental ensemble.

In 2012, while visiting the Architecture Biennale in Venice, the Portuguese photographer Nuno Cera made a little pilgrimage north, about half an hour’s drive, to the Tomba Brion. This is the private burial ground that Carlo Scarpa was commissioned to design in 1968 for the Brion family as a small, walled extension to the municipal cemetery of Treviso.

The facility is composed of a chapel, two covered crypts, a meditation pavilion, lawn and, partially overgrown, a reflecting pool. Like the wall enclosing the complex, all structures are made of rough concrete with coloured tiles laid into the concrete here and there. Also made of coloured tiles, the “window” of the meditation pavilion shows two intersecting circles forming a “mandala”, a repeated motif in Scarpa’s architecture.

Familiar tropes of Scarpa's work are incorporated into the tomb and its surroundings, including water features...

Scarpa wrote about the Tomba: “I consider this work, if you permit me, to be rather good and which will get better over time. I have tried to put some poetic imagination into it, though not in order to create poetic architecture but to make a certain kind of architecture that could emanate a sense of formal poetry ... The place for the dead is a garden ... I wanted to show some ways in which you could approach death in a social and civic way...”

Scarpa was still tinkering with the design in 1978 when he himself died, falling down a concrete stair in Japan. He is interred in an isolated, exterior corner of the Tomba Brion, apparently, following his last will, standing upright, wrapped in linen like a mediaeval knight.

– Florian Heilmeyer

– Nuno Cera (*1972 Beja, Portugal) lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal.
 He is a photographer and video artist, addressing spatial conditions, architecture and urban situations through fictional and poetic documentary forms. nunocera.com



For more funereal architecture, please check out uncube issue no. 38: Death. If you'd like to enjoy more of Nuno Cera's haunting photography, head to last week's blog post The Evil Twin, to discover his exploration of Aldo Rossi’s San Cataldo Cemetery with curator Diogo Seixas Lopes.

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