Brion tomb

Coordinates: 45°45′05″N 11°54′48″E / 45.751323°N 11.913341°E / 45.751323; 11.913341
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The tomb in Altivole, Italy

The Brion tomb, also known as the Brion sanctuary and Brion-Vega tomb, in San Vito d'Altivole near Treviso, Italy, is the burial ground of the Brion family. It was designed by Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa between 1968–1978 as an L-shaped 2,000 m2 (22,000 sq ft) extension to the adjacent municipal cemetery. It is regarded as a masterpiece of modernist architecture and a powerful commemorative monument.[1]

Scarpa felt that "the place for the dead is a garden" and is himself buried adjacent to the Brion sanctuary.[2]

45°45′05″N 11°54′48″E / 45.751323°N 11.913341°E / 45.751323; 11.913341


The monumental project was commissioned in 1969 by Onorina Tomasin-Brion, widow of Giuseppe Brion [it], the founder of the Brionvega company. The enclosure is a private burial ground for the Brion family. Their twinned sarcophagi are central to the composition.

Composition and design[edit]

The sanctuary is designed as a composition of concrete buildings with distinctive detailing set in gardens with water features. It has been described as "both a meditation on death and an evocation of a particular magical city, Venice".[1] Scarpa has been quoted as saying "I like water very much, perhaps because I am Venetian ..."[3]

Scarpa began designing this addition to the existing municipal cemetery of San Vito d'Altivole in 1968. Although he continued to consider changes to the project, it was completed before his accidental death in Japan in 1978. Several discrete elements comprise the family burial site: a sloped concrete enclosing wall, two distinct entrances, a small chapel, two covered burial areas (the arcosolium for Giuseppe and Onorina Brion, and one for other family members). The "viewing device" of the pavilion of meditation suggests a vesica piscis, a recurring motif in Scarpa's architecture.[4] [5] Venetian influences such as the gold tiles familiar from Byzantine mosaics and Japanese influences such as the tea-room inspiration of the chapel are evident in the design. In the garden are a dense grove of cypresses, a prato (lawn), and a private meditation/viewing pavilion, separated from the main prato by a separate and locked entrance, and a heavily vegetated reflecting pool.[6]

Restoration and oversight[edit]

A conservation restoration of the Brion tomb was completed in September 2021.[7] The Brion heirs, Ennio and Donatella, donated the site to Italian Environmental Fund (FAI) in 2022.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

The Brion tomb was used for filming of Dune: Part Two in July 2022.[9] The reflecting pool at the Brion Cemetery inspired the design of the Water Court at Glenstone, the largest private contemporary art museum in the United States.[10]


  1. ^ a b Buchanan, Peter (September 1985). "Garden of death and dreams: Brion Cemetery by Carlo Scarpa". The Architectural Review.
  2. ^ "Brion Tomb and Sanctuary by Carlo Scarpa". ARCHIVIBE architecture and design news. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  3. ^ Dodds, George (2004). "Directing Vision in the Landscapes and Gardens of Carlo Scarpa". Journal of Architectural Education. 57 (3 p.34): 30–38. doi:10.1162/104648804772745238. JSTOR 1425778. S2CID 111175090 – via JSTOR.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2010-02-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Beltramini, Guido; Zannier, Italo (2007). Carlo Scarpa: architecture and design. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 9780847829118.
  6. ^ Stern, Michael (1 April 1994). "Passages in the Garden: An Iconology of the Brion Tomb". Landscape Journal. 13 (1): 37–57. doi:10.3368/lj.13.1.39. S2CID 109378557.
  7. ^ Preti, Lavinia Colonna (September 2021). "Tomba Brion in Altivole – Carlo Scarpa's masterpiece". Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  8. ^ Gugliotta, Francesca (2022-08-12). "Brion Memorial donated to FAI". IFDM. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 3, 2022). "'Dune: Part Two' Ramping Up Production This Month". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  10. ^ Smee, Sebastian; Higgins, Adrian. "Glenstone: See inside (and outside) D.C.'s newest museum experience". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-01.

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