The Mazzariol Hall: Mario Botta’s reorganization in Palazzo Querini Stampalia
The restoration and reorganization by the Swiss architect Mario Botta of a new ‘wing’ in Palazzo Querini Stampalia lasted for nearly 30 years. Botta redesigned the spaces of the homonymous Foundation that had managed over the years to buy progressively several buildings on the eastern side of the Renaissance Querini Stampalia Palace.
Botta planned the new bridge, very visible from the Campo Santa Maria Formosa, the entrance, the new staircase with lifts, the cloakroom, the ticket shop, the auditorium and the covered courtyard dedicated to Giuseppe Mazzariol.
In this post I would like to introduce you to the main elements of the Mazzariol Hall, the new fulcrum, a ‘notable spatial intervention of the entire complex’ as Botta wrote. The courtyard is a meeting place where all the rooms and the many different spaces of the Foundation converge.
Born in 1943 in Mendrisio, in Tessin, Mario Botta studied first in Lugano, then in Milan and from 1964 in Venice where he studied 5 years long at IUAV l’Istituto Superiore di Architettura.
As a student he visited assiduously the Querini Stampalia Library, especially in the long and cold winter evenings. He remembered the reading rooms nicely heated with many art, history and architecture magazines. Is there a Venetian who has not spent a few hours over the walnut tables lit with the Venini lamps designed by Carlo Scarpa?
Botta returned to Lugano and in 2011 he opened his studio in Mendrisio, as he thought it would be nice to work in the place where he grew up.
1993 the director of the Foundation Querini Stampalia Giorgio Busetto asked Botta to help with the reorganization and redistribution of preexisting spaces, structures and functions and plan the integration with the recent acquisitions.
Botta agreed with enthusiasm and generously to do it without fee, feeling it as an act of owed gratitude, a sort of ‘debt of honour’, for the hospitality once given to him by those ‘known spaces, friendly spaces’.
The new entrance was moved over to Campo Santa Maria Formosa also in order to reduce the pressure from the fragile entrance planned by Scarpa and to preserve its unequalled beauty. This bridge was inaugurated only in 2013.
The courtyard opens up suddenly, unexpectedly, airy and bright, after 2 small compressed rooms.
Restoration of Mazzariol Hall (2001-2004)
Giuseppe Mazzariol was the Venetian man who convinced at the end of the fifties the Consiglio di Presidenza of the need of redoing the ground floor, in bad conditions, and commissioning it to Carlo Scarpa (see my previous post here).
Mazzariol was also the friend and mentor of the young Botta during his intense Venetian years and had taught him to love Venice during long walks together.
The courtyard was obtained by uniting 2 courtyards that were originally divided by a transversal passageway.
Mario Botta chose similar materials and architectural techniques as Carlo Scarpa to give a sense of continuity of language. Several are the references to Scarpa’s legacy, like the chessboard floor Scarpa created for the entrance.
The floor, originally unpaved, here is formed by tiles, slightly bigger than the ones chosen by Scarpa. 3 are the colours and not 4, opaque polished dove-grey stone, white and red (15 cm x 15 cm), never more than 2 pieces together.
The carpet is closed by a band slightly larger than the one of Scarpa, made of black marble that frames also the base of the walls and that can be found in the remaining part of the floor, doors and high skirting board.
This board reaches up to the window ledges.
Another tribute to Scarpa are the panels covered with whitewashed plaster, detached because of rising dampness. The brick wall emerges again clearly behind. The perimeter walls are layers of plaster and cocciopesto.
Expressive clarity is evident everywhere. The space between the windows is repeated also on the first floor panels; the ones of the ground floor are white, the ones on the first are greyish ice.
The openings of the windows are the preexisting ones.The well was preserved, but no longer on the main axis.
The glass window has 2 horizontal profiles to which are fastened micro perforated metals screens that curve down. The sheets are on 2 levels, so the deviation of light falling in from above causes a feeling of movement. Similar to a church there is an expansion and dilatation upwards towards the sky.
A similar idea can be found behind the main altar of the Résurrection Cathedral built by Botta in Evry.
The light comes from the sky, falls in from above. Often in Botta’s works the roof is transparent, the inside is flooded by light, so different according to the season , reminding us that time flows. The rhythm is important, day and night, summer and winter.
The architecture must consider the environment, the microcosm, the research for integration and balance between the built and the natural environment.
In Scarpa’s entrance the light came from the water, was conveyed and reflected by water. Here the light – the ‘water’ – falls in from the sky.
Would you like to discover more about the modifications and restructuring of the additions by Botta, who manages to give unity and coherence by adapting to different spaces and respecting their history?