Brion Visitor Center

San Vito D'Altivole, Italy

2013

 

My objective was to design a visitor's center for Carlo Scarpa's Brion Cemetery in San Vito d'Altivole, Italy, inspired by a thorough diagrammatic exploration of the Schindler-Chace House in West Hollywood. 

Scarpa's monument within the municipal cemetery of San Vito d'Altivole re-envisions death as a social construct and the cemetery as a garden, while embracing the existing burial sites.

My intervention creates a clear entry sequence, something Brion is currently lacking, allowing visitors to appreciate their dynamic relationship with the ground plane as they process through the site. Visitors begin with full disclosure of the site as a landscape, and then descend into the cemetery to explore its intricacies and surprises.

My intervention is a purification sequence. The changing ground level allows the visitor to become more aware of the original ground plane as a "field" that is being imposed upon; they are hovering between ground and sky, much like the cemetery is an intermediary condition between life and death. I was inspired by Edvard Munch's drawing Death and the Maiden, part of a series of artworks depicting the changing relationship of a young girl with death, from fear to submission to passionate embrace. 

My intervention encourages reflection, orchestrating movement in such a way that the visitor's awareness is sharpened. This elevated intermediary space creates a true beginning, conditioning the visitor for arrival.

 

Building from a case study of the Schindler-Chace house, the concepts of awareness and integration with nature further reinforce the experience that my intervention will cultivate. The intervention acknowledges the flexibility and dynamism of the site over time. It is a growing thing, full of life, while also an ode to death.

The user comes away with a feeling of having been removed from day to day life, while at the same time becoming more deeply aware of it. The intervention highlights the embrace of death and respect paid toward the natural world. The visitor understands Brion not as a sea of concrete headstones, but as a dynamic and growing landscape, in constant flux.