The renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa is acclaimed for his meticulously detailed designs that stand as remarkable tributes to his innovative and authentic approach to architecture. Among his many celebrated works, Villa Ottolenghi stands as a unique embodiment of his architectural philosophy, embodying an exquisite blend of modern and traditional design techniques.
Villa Ottolenghi Technical Information
- Architects: Carlo Scarpa
- Location: Bardolino, Verona, Italy
- Topics: Modernism, Italian Houses
- Project Year: 1974-1978
- Photographs: © Åke E:son Lindman
I wanted to show some ways in which you could approach architecture – as an adventure. It’s not a business. It’s an adventure.– Carlo Scarpa1
Villa Ottolenghi Photographs
The Intricate Elegance of Villa Ottolenghi
Located in Bardolino, in the province of Verona, Villa Ottolenghi was commissioned in the 1970s by Countess Ottolenghi as a residential villa. It was the largest and most complex project ever undertaken by Scarpa, a challenge that he accepted and delivered with exceptional acuity.
Scarpa’s architectural works are characterized by meticulous attention to detail, a profound understanding of materials, and an ability to engage with the existing landscape and cultural context. Villa Ottolenghi is no exception. It is situated in an idyllic location, nestled amidst vineyards and olive groves, offering panoramic views of Lake Garda and the surrounding countryside.
Villa Ottolenghi Design Concept
The design of Villa Ottolenghi can be viewed as a narrative of spatial experiences. The villa is divided into five principal areas – the main house, the garden, the guest house, the swimming pool, and the stable. Each area has its unique identity, but they are all united by common threads of Scarpa’s design philosophy, featuring elements that blur the boundaries between interior and exterior, celebrate materiality, and create a dialogue with the landscape and history of the site.
The main house forms the heart of the villa, showcasing Scarpa’s mastery of merging different architectural languages. The house’s layout is a series of intersecting geometric forms that serve both aesthetic and functional purposes. The use of curved walls not only adds an element of dynamism to the design but also creates a sequence of spaces that guide the occupants through the house, creating an engaging spatial journey.
The Interplay of Light and Material
Light is another crucial element in Scarpa’s design, carefully considered and used to transform spaces throughout the day. Windows, skylights, and openings have been strategically placed, letting in streams of natural light that dance with the various textures and surfaces in the house. The change in daylight subtly transforms the ambiance of the villa, making it a living and breathing architectural entity.
Scarpa’s choice of materials at Villa Ottolenghi is a testament to his deep understanding and love for craftsmanship. Concrete, stone, wood, and glass are utilized in harmony, resulting in an architecture that appears both modern and timeless. Each material has been thoughtfully chosen and meticulously detailed, with Scarpa personally overseeing every aspect of the construction to ensure the execution matched his vision.
Engagement with Landscape and History
Scarpa’s respect for the existing landscape and local history is clearly manifested at Villa Ottolenghi. The villa is designed to integrate seamlessly with the undulating topography of the site, embracing its natural setting rather than imposing upon it. The terraced gardens, inspired by the traditional agriculture of the region, cascade down the hill, incorporating local vegetation and ancient olive trees.
Elements of local history are woven into the villa’s design. Scarpa incorporated pre-existing Roman walls discovered during the excavation into the architecture, forming an intriguing juxtaposition of the old and the new. This historic layering adds a depth to the villa, making it not just a residential building, but a dialogue with time and culture.
Challenges and Triumphs
Villa Ottolenghi’s remote location presented logistical difficulties, and the steep slope of the site demanded careful planning and strategic design. The construction process was intricate due to the complex geometry of the design and Scarpa’s meticulous detailing. The architect’s involvement in every detail, down to the door handles and light fixtures, added to the intricacy of the project.
Despite the steepness of the site, the villa is designed to offer comfortable living spaces that smoothly flow into one another, with the grandeur of the landscape becoming an integral part of the interior experience. The painstaking attention to detail yields an architecture of unmatched sophistication and authenticity.
Legacy of Villa Ottolenghi
Villa Ottolenghi is an enduring testament to Carlo Scarpa’s architectural brilliance. Though the architect passed away before the completion of the villa, his influence permeates every corner of the building. His design philosophy – to create spaces that are in tune with their environment, respect the past, and inspire the human spirit – lives on in Villa Ottolenghi.
In the years following its completion, Villa Ottolenghi has gained recognition as one of Scarpa’s finest works. Architecture enthusiasts and professionals alike visit the villa, drawn by its remarkable design and the opportunity to experience first-hand Scarpa’s architectural vision.
Carlo Scarpa’s Villa Ottolenghi is a masterpiece that marries ancient history, the vernacular, and modernist design elements in one harmonious composition. Its beautifully orchestrated sequence of spaces, engagement with the natural surroundings, and sublime use of light and material create an unparalleled architectural experience. Each detail, from the overall plan to the smallest fitting, reflects Scarpa’s unique touch and distinctive design philosophy.
Villa Ottolenghi Plans
Villa Ottolenghi Image Gallery
About Carlo Scarpa
Carlo Scarpa (June 2, 1906 – November 28, 1978) was an acclaimed Italian architect and designer celebrated for his meticulous approach to design and a deep appreciation for materials and historical context. Born in Venice, his architecture is marked by remarkable attention to detail, integrating various materials like concrete, stone, wood, metal, and glass in innovative ways while simultaneously respecting the architectural history and landscapes of his projects. Scarpa seamlessly blended modernist principles and historical elements in his designs, often involving the renovation of existing structures where he artfully combined old and new elements. Though never aligning himself with a particular architectural style or movement, his distinctive works, including museums, private homes, and bridges, have significantly influenced global architecture. Key works include the Brion Cemetery in San Vito d’Altivole, the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona, and the Villa Ottolenghi in Bardolino.