The Space Beyond the Threshold

All photographs by John Hill/World-Architects

As an architectural writer, I tend to learn about competitions through emails, press releases, websites, and the like. It's not often that I become aware of one by stepping inside a building. But that is just what happened when, while in Venice for the vernissage of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, I came across the exhibition DoorScape: The Space Beyond the Threshold inside the Fondazione Querini Stampalia. Most architects know the institution less for the house museum that occupies its upper floors or its expansive library, but for the entrance hall, main hall, and garden renovated by Carlo Scarpa in the early 1960s. These spaces, which beautifully incorporate the rising waters that are a fact of life in Venice, are now referred to by the museum as the “Scarpa Area” and make a fitting setting for exhibiting architectural models. Below are photographs from my brief visit to DoorScape, which is on display, like the Biennale, until November 26, 2023.

When Scarpa remodeled the ground floor sixty years ago, the building was accessed by a bridge, seen here at right, that he also designed. Now closed, the visitor entrance is via another bridge to the north, which changes the interior flow of the museum.
Visitors are encouraged to go upstairs to the museum, make their way south, then descend to the Scarpa Area — an odd loop that puts the gift shop and cafe at the end. I went in reverse and thereby came across the exhibition from the back, as seen here.
Still, the first model I saw, in the watery entrance hall remodeled by Scarpa, was the winner of the DoorScape competition: 01 – “The Portal” by Branko Office for Architecture (Setion Branko, Arlinda Lalaj Branko).
Competition entrants were asked to design “a domestic place that connects and unites but at the same time separates and protects,” and the winner sculpted a void that invites people to “pause, sit on the wood bench and look up at the sky.”
The nine other numbered finalists were arranged in order along a long steel table in the main hall of the ground-floor Scarpa Area. The exhibition design was carried out by AMDL CIRCLE and Michele De Lucchi, who also chaired the jury.
Left to right: finalists 02 – 06
02 – “The threshold as a landing space” by Antonella Trusgnach
03 – “Hypostyle” by Victor Catalin Tanasa
04 – “Viride” by Anna Loggia and Alice Fantino
05 – “The Garden of Utopia” by Emanuele Cipolla
06 – “Threshold, from Sign to Place” by Filippo Garau
Left to right: finalists 07 – 10
07 – “Prélude” by Isabel Gomez
08 – “The threshold through the labyrinth” by Maria Grazia Spirito
09 – “The Cut” by Matheus Cartocci
10 – “Instrument door” by Sara Simoska
The DoorScape competition was organized by Oikos Venezia and Fondazione Querini Stampalia. The jury was made up of AMDL CIRCLE and Michele De Lucchi as its president, urban historian Donatella Calabi, photographer Alessandra Chemollo, philosopher Emanuele Coccia, landscape designer Luciano Giubbilei, and research designer Eugenia Morpurgo.