International Carlo Scarpa Award for Gardens

5 April 2024

XXXIII edition, 2023-2024

The Espacio Escultórico in Pedregal de San Ángel, Mexico City

The thirty-third edition of the International Carlo Scarpa Award for Gardens, 2023-2024, is dedicated to the Espacio Escultórico in Pedregal de San Ángel, Mexico City. The Award, conceived and implemented by the Benetton Foundation Studies and Research and centered on a place rich in values of nature, memory, and invention, returns to explore for the second time, after its first edition in 1990 which saw the choice of Roberto Burle Marx’s Sítio Santo Antônio da Bica in Brazil, places belonging to the vast world of Latin America.

The Espacio Escultórico is a place constituted by a large collective work of art emerging from the same volcanic surface on which, in the last century, new neighborhoods and above all an entire university city, that of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), were born and developed, starting from the late forties.
A toothed ring, composed of sixty-four concrete prisms resting on a circular base with a diameter of 120 meters, encloses a stretch of “intact” volcanic soil, making manifest the expressive power of this landscape, but also its changing and fragile condition.

Strongly desired by the University and inaugurated in 1979, the Espacio Escultórico exemplifies the value and significance of a landscape – that of the Pedregal de San Ángel, shaped by a volcanic eruption – with which the city, institutions and university communities, the cultural environment and Mexican society confront and dialogue on the level of its environmental and ecological value, its evocative power, but also the conflicts generated within the urban expansion of a megalopolis that encircles its perimeter and over time modifies its nature and meanings. Resulting from the eruption of the monogenetic volcano Xitle, – which in geological terms is recent, having taken place approximately only fifteen hundred or perhaps two thousand years ago -, the Pedregal (which in Italian we could call “stony ground”) appears to us as a stretch of volcanic rock, scattered with vegetation and morphological variations, which evolves over time and manifests itself as a living landscape, rich in ecological value, and still dense with references to the pre-Hispanic history that preceded it, despite the enormous reduction of its perimeter and its original extension.

The Espacio Escultórico represents an important chapter of this evolving landscape and, despite (or perhaps thanks to) its sculptural fixity, establishes a meeting point between past and future, straddling the grand narrative of the construction of the University City and the development of an ecological consciousness of its campus, a “landscape of resistance” rather than a peaceful and reassuring scenario of a community that is privileged in some respects.

Much has been written about the value of the work and there are many interpretations of it. In the vision of the Carlo Scarpa Award, the Espacio Escultórico is a place of personal meditation and collective action: its history leads us to reflect on the relationship between artistic gesture and ecological consciousness; the choral dimension of its conception invites us to consider individual commitment in the field of landscape, to establish new coordinates and new design tasks.

The main public events of the Carlo Scarpa Award 2023-2024 will take place in Treviso, in April 2024:

Friday, April 12, at 6 pm, Ca’ Scarpa: opening of the exhibition dedicated to the Espacio Escultórico and its context, which will be open to the public until Sunday, June 30th.

Saturday, April 13, from 10 am to 1 pm, auditorium of the Benetton Foundation in Palazzo Bomben: presentation of the book and documentary film dedicated to the place and themes of this edition of the Award, preceded by a lecture by Louise Noelle.

Saturday, April 13, at 5 pm, Church of San Teonisto: public ceremony with the presentation of the symbolic seal of the Award to Leonardo Lomelí Vanegas, Rector of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, highlighting, within the context of UNAM itself, two other figures who express the sense of care for this place, Silke Cram and Louise Noelle, both involved in the management and protection of the awarded site.

The International Carlo Scarpa Award for Gardens

– so named in honor of Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978), architect and garden inventor – is a research and care project dedicated to a place, conceived and implemented since 1990 by the Benetton Foundation Studies and Research. A project that each time starts from in-depth studies and explorations directed at different places and cultures.