The Brion Tomb by Carlo Scarpa: a place for reflection


Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Laura Teso

A few kilometers from of Asolo, inside the San Vito di Altivole (Treviso) cemetery, you can admire the Brion Tomb by the great architect Carlo Scarpa.  I know, it’s not an happy topic, but I think this particular work by Scarpa is a masterpiece. It is not a single monument but a set of elements (Cappella, Arcosolio, Edicola, Propilei), with names coming form ancient architecture.

Mrs. Onorina Brion Tomasin commissioned it to Scarpa to honor the memory of her beloved husband, Giuseppe Brion, owner of the Brionvega brand. Scarpa worked there between 1970 and 1978, the year in which he died. In his will he requested to be buried here. In fact his grave is located just outside the Brion tomb (beyond the stone gate to the right of the chapel entrance).

Trivia: Several scenes from the film Dune 2 were shot at the Brion Tomb cemetery.

Brion tomb – my experience

This place is both disturbing and relaxing, decadent and modern. The cold and grey cement can give a sense of oppression. At the same time, you can also perceive levity. The gaps in the cement allow you to see the green grass all around, the water flowing, the presence of fishes and the water lilies in the pond. In short, thanks to the openings on the structures you can see the landscape. Despite these things conveying a sense of sweet delicacy, precisely because of the greyness and heaviness of the materials, we never forget that we are in a cemetery.
It’s a place of strong symbolism. The apotheosis are the tombs of the two spouses leaning towards each other. The passage along the wall has the shape of two intersecting circles similar to wedding rings.

The idea of Scarpa

The site invites you to meditation and reflection. In particular Scarpa created the bench in the middle of the water lilies pond precisely for this reason: so the visitors could sit and think.

This is the kind of place that can please the admirers of maestro Scarpa, architecture enthusiasts and those who like to reflect on what they see and live. Over the years I brought here a friend, which did not like the place, and this last time my husband, who loved it. So, be aware that the Brion Tomb can cause opposite feelings.

During a lecture in Madrid in 1978, Carlo Scarpa said about the Brion Tomb:

This is the only work of mine that I gladly see
because it seems to me I have conquered the
sense of the countryside, as the Brions wanted.
Everyone goes there with great affection,
the children play, the dogs run.
All the graveyards should be made this way.


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