camminacitta

The Modern City Walk

Contacts
Como Tourist Information Office via Odescalchi 13, Como; Tel. 031.252518; ufficioturismo@comune.como.it; http://www.visitcomo.eu/it/
Info Point Duomo Piazza Duomo, Como; Tel. 031.304137
Info Point c/o F.S. San Giovanni Railway Station Piazzale San Gottardo 1, Como; Cell. 342.0076403
IAT Como Piazza Cavour 17, Como; tel. 031.269712 -031.3300138-9; lakecomo@tin.it; www.lakecomo.it

Stage 1 – From Sant’Elia Nursery School to Piazza del Popolo

Asilo Sant’Elia (Sant’Elia Nursery School)Case Popolari (Council Houses)Casa Cattaneo Alchieri (Cattaneo Alchieri House)Casa Pedraglio (Pedraglio House)Casa del Fascio (Fascist Party Headquarters)Sede dell’Unione Fascista dei Lavoratori dell’Industria (Headquarters of the Fascist Union of Industrial Workers)Fontana monumentale (Monumental Fountain)Villa per un floricoltore (Villa for a floriculturist)

WORK IN PROGRESS

Asilo Sant’Elia (Sant’Elia Nursery School)

Information
Location: Sant’Elia Nursery School is located in Como, via Alciato 15
Paving: the pavement next to the entrance is made of porphyry cubes. A large pathway paved with stone slabs ends in three granulated-concrete steps which lead to the landing that gives access to the building
Architectural barriers: at the beginning of the pathway, on the left, please mind the iron totem sign placed by the Council of Architects of Como to draw attention to the Rationalist structure. Three steps lead to the landing at the entrance of the building; both sides are bordered by low iron handrails
Access: access is from the entrance at via Alciato 15, preceded by a strip of grass enclosed by a low evergreen border and crossed by a pathway
Services: parking available in adjacent areas
Leisure and Food: bars and cafes in the area; municipal garden
Other information: the structure is used as a school building. Visits are possible after requiring the relevant authorization from the “Ufficio Politiche Educative (Bureau for Educational Policies)” c/o the Municipality of Como (Tel. 031.252681; email: careddu.grazia@comune.como.it).

Description

The “Asilo Sant’Elia” (Sant’Elia Nursery School) was designed in 1936-1937 by the architect Giuseppe Terragni. The nursery school was commissioned by the Congregazione di Carità (Congregation of Charity) of Como, and erected near a large working-class quarter built by the Società Cooperativa Edificatrice (Cooperative Building Society).
The nursery school is a one-storey structure; the height, never more than five metres, contrasts with the extremely long façades.
«As in some other interventions (e.g. the first ideas for the Casa del Fascio), and following a consolidated tradition, Terragni arranged his rooms around a courtyard opening onto it on one side, so choosing a close involvement between interior and exterior, a choice which would find further expression in the series of pilasters and curtains which – from the outside – “bring” the classrooms, only seemingly isolated by the large windows, directly into the garden.
This straining towards liberty and towards a new approach to pedagogical problems (still modern today) is fully felt in the articulation of the internal spaces which do not limit one another (moveable walls separate one classroom from the other) but tend to flow together, one into the other» (L. Cavadini, Architettura razionalista nel territorio comasco, Provincia di Como, Como 2004).
The restoration work carried out by the Studio Terragni architectural firm in recent years has brought the building back to its original state.

Further information:
Wikipedia – Asilo Sant’Elia
Lombardia Beni Culturali website – Asilo Sant’Elia
Lake Como Tourism website – Asilo Sant’Elia
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Asilo Sant’Elia

WORK IN PROGRESS

Case Popolari (Council Houses)

Information
Location:: the Council Houses are located in Como, via Anzani 34
Paving: the pavement next to the entrance is surfaced with asphalt. Beyond the low concrete enclosure wall, opened by two small iron gates, a narrow concrete strip precedes the five granulated-concrete steps which lead to the first landing
Architectural barriers: five steps lead to the first landing
Access: access is from the entrance of via Anzani 34
Services: parking available in the area; automated teller machine in via Anzani
Leisure and Food: bar in the area; municipal garden
Other information: the building hosts private homes and is therefore not open for visits

Description

The Case Popolari (Council Houses) of via Anzani, designed in 1938 by Giuseppe Terragni and Alberto Sartoris, were built by the IFACP (Fascist Autonomous Institute for Council Housing) in 1939. This project was in fact a very small abstraction from a more ambitious plan of Rationalist scope drawn up by the two architects (a “utopia of poets”), consisting of a working-class satellite quarter for 3000 people at Rebbio, with six-storey houses and one and two-storey houses arranged in rows, within a network of orthogonal roads, comprising all the main services, a stadium, sports facilities, schools, a church, the seat of the Autonomous Fascist Institute for Council Housing (IFACP) and Fascist Party, as well as green areas.
The via Anzani buildings were constructed in order to receive part of the inhabitants who had been forced to leave the old Cortesella quarter – which stood in the area now occupied by a square, piazza Peretta, and a street, via Boldoni – following its demolishment due to the “urban renewal” intervention brought about by the Municipality’s new Town Plan (1937). However, the transfer of Cortesella’s inhabitants to the via Anzani complex was in contrast with an important objective of rationalist architecture, i.e. to provide an answer to the actual needs of the population. On the contrary, the Municipality, by carrying out this intervention, had answered the needs of the real estate companies and the IFACP, thus starting the process of pushing members of the lower social classes out of the old core of Como.
Of the three buildings planned by IFACP for via Anzani, only two were actually built, «one of four floors, and the other two floors plus the ground floor. The maximum simplification of the finishing was attempted with success, also due to the need to keep the costs down, and variations were made in the distribution of space regard to the optimal plan foreseen for the residential units at Rebbio. Nevertheless the two houses stand out as original within the spectrum of houses built by the IFACP. There is a clear intention to visually connect the house to the garden; the garden was conceived as a replacement for the usual courtyard of working-class houses, allowing for an efficient daylight exposure of the main rooms of both houses. The pursuit of a pattern of full and empty spaces on the façades, furthermore underscored by the railing strips on the balconies, is difficult to distinguish today due to the modification of the plaster and of the colours» (L. Cavadini, Architettura razionalista nel territorio comasco, Provincia di Como, Como 2004).

Further information:
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Case popolari

WORK IN PROGRESS

Casa Cattaneo Alchieri (Cattaneo Alchieri House)

Information
Location: Cattaneo Alchieri House is located in Como, via Mentana 25
Paving: the pavement next to the entrance is surfaced with asphalt. In front of the house, a low concrete wall surmounted by an iron fence encloses a narrow strip of grass, crossed by a concrete tile pathway which leads to the building
Architectural barriers: -
Access: access is from the entrance in via Mentana 25
Services: parking available in the area; automated teller machine in via Magenta
Leisure and Food: bars and cafes in the area
Other information: the building is used as a private home and is therefore not open for visits

Description

Casa Cattaneo Alchieri (designed by Pietro Lingeri, 1936) is also known as “casa a ville sovrapposte (house formed by superimposed villas)”, due to the desire to give the apartments independent features although they are part of a single block.
This new Como building shows that the modernity of the Italian Rationalist style aimed at satisfying the needs of the house dwellers.
«A long balcony “encloses” the structure in a perfect parallelepiped and swathes the main façade and half of the two lateral fronts.
The body of the construction is partially withdrawn to avoid the excess of solar exposition due to its southwest orientation.
The extent of the building appears accentuated by the parapets (partly in concrete, partly in metal) of the balconies and by the small metal pilasters which link the floors of the terraces from the ground to the roof, in parallel with the corners of the projecting rooms.
The planimetric arrangement appears perfectly symmetrical, with identical apartments overlooking the landings. The use of concrete and glass for the windowed areas of the stairwell and of metal sections for the parapets is rationalist; on the other hand, the striking use of black glass for the low entrance hall ceiling managed to convey the optical illusion of spaciousness.
The roof of the building has been modified. Additional living space has been created where there was once a portico» (L. Cavadini, Architettura razionalista nel territorio comasco, Provincia di Como, Como 2004).

Further information:
Lombardia Beni Culturali website – Casa Cattaneo Alchieri
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Casa Cattaneo Alchieri

WORK IN PROGRESS

Casa Pedraglio (Pedraglio House)

Information
Location: Casa Pedraglio is located in Como, via Mentana 6
Paving: the pavement next to the entrance is made of porphyry cubes. A strip made of stone slabs outside the front door marks the entrance to the building
Architectural barriers: -
Access: access is from the entrance in via Mentana 6
Services: parking available in the area; automated teller machine in via Giulini
Leisure and Food: bars, cafes, and pizzerias in the area
Other information: the building is used as a private home and is therefore not open for visits

Description
Casa Pedraglio was built between 1935 and 1937 according to a project originally designed by Giuseppe Terragni. However, in the course of the building works a decision was made to leave out two of the bays, and the house lost its original symmetry.
The missing portion was to have balanced the combination of recesses and overhangs due to the balconies on one side of the façade, as shown in some of the designer’s drawings.
Inside, the apartments, two on each floor, are laid out around the central stairwell.
An interesting feature of this building is the walking surface of balconies, formed by concrete-framed glass blocks, which gives the building a permeable character, enhanced by the glass panels that stretch the French windows up to the ceiling.
In the Post-War period the building was further modified: the ground floor shops openings were blocked off and another floor was added to the top floor.

Further information:
Wikipedia – Casa Pedraglio
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Casa Pedraglio

WORK IN PROGRESS

Casa del Fascio (Fascist Party Headquarters)

Information
Location: the Casa del Fascio is located in Como, piazza del Popolo
Paving: the large piazza in front of the Casa del Fascio is paved with stone slabs; the steps are made of stone
Architectural barriers: to access the piazza one has to climb a low step. Four steps lead to the landing which gives access to the building. On the left (when looking at the façade of the building), a ramp – approx. five metres wide – links the piazza and via Pessina at street level; on the right, another ramp does the same with via dei Partigiani
Access: access is from the entrance in piazza del Popolo
Services: parking available in the area; city and county buses stop nearby
Leisure and Food: bars, cafes and restaurants in the area; municipal garden
Other information: the building is currently the H.Q. of the Como Province Finance Police and can be visited exclusively by specially arranged guided tours

Description

This building, designed by Giuseppe Terragni, had a long and difficult gestation period (1932-1936), partly due to the differences of opinion aroused by his evident disagreement with the rhetoric of the Fascist “regime palaces”.
«The building is a perfectly regular, square-based prism with a height equal to half the base length, which measures 32.20 m. The strict plan would suggest explicit classical architectural tones, but it is tempered by the desire to create a dynamic balance between the volumes and voids of the façades, partly by using large glass areas that connect the inside and the outside. The main façade consists of a large, full, vertical rectangle. A large grid formed by the 20 empty rectangles of the balconies protrudes from this. The other faces, too, are characterized by an asymmetric pattern, each establishing its own intimate link with the town» (www.architetturadelmoderno.it).
A spacious piazza is in front of the building, «logica e naturale prosecuzione della storica Piazza del Duomo» and is the starting point for «un accentramento organico e intelligente dei più tipici edifici del Regime».
«The entrance glass wall, made up of 18 French windows, projects the facing square indoors, while the many glass surfaces characterizing the whole building frame seem to be various views of the town, including the Cathedral, which can be seen from four different angles, in like manner. The entrance opens onto the central hall, a covered courtyard of sorts, overlooked by the Directory room, the offices and the landings. Light floods are divided into separate beams, which become larger where the rooms so require… Terragni designed the furniture, too: chairs, armchairs and shelving, as well as details such as handrails, doors, windows and shutters, staircases and bathrooms. The result is a unicum, where each detail is an architectural item taking part in the life of the whole; the pattern of a table is the same as that of the building. Here, objects mix walnut, oak, beech-wood or pinewood with tops in grey, green, white, black, and blue opal glass. Mario Radice was commissioned to design the chandelier in the reception room on the first-floor and some panels decorated with images of political propaganda, which are now lost (1934-1936)» (www.architetturadelmoderno.it).
Luciano Caramel writes that these furnishings «due to their exceptional nature, constituted a significant sign of the precariousness of the relationships between rational architecture and the abstract visual arts. In fact, this is a unique case of real collaboration between new painting and new architecture, decided – as is known – only a posteriori»».
After the war, the former Casa del Fascio was devastated by “the mania to get rid of the past”, and was completely emptied, and so the furnishings were lost. The building itself was programmed to be the home to the knew political parties of the infant Republic, and for some years was also the home to various associations where young people of all social classes could meet for cultural activities, united by the desire to create a better future. It has been the HQ of the Como Province of Finance Police since 1955.

Further information:
Wikipedia – Casa del Fascio Como
Lombardia Beni Culturali website – Casa del Fascio (ex)
Lake Como Tourism website – Ex Casa del Fascio
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Casa del Fascio

WORK INPROGRESS

Sede dell’Unione Fascista dei Lavoratori dell’Industria (Headquarters of the Fascist Union of Industrial Workers)

Information
Location: the headquarters of the Fascist Union of Industrial Workers are located behind the Casa del Fascio, in the block which includes via Partigiani, via Lega Insurrezionale and via Pessina
Paving: the pavement next to the entrance is made of porphyry cubes. Beyond the iron gate of the enclosure there are seventeen stone steps which lead to the landing giving access to the building
Location: seventeen stone steps lead to the landing giving access to the building. On the right of the main entrance there is a special entrance for disabled with a lift
Access: access is from the main entrance in via Pessina 6
Services: parking available in the area
Leisure and Food: bars, cafes, pizzerias and restaurants in the area
Other information: the building is currently used as the premises of the Local Health Authority for the Province of Como and is therefore not open for visits

Description

After the completion of the Casa del Fascio, the project of an H.Q. for the Fascist Union of Industrial Workers, that is “The New Home of the Como Worker”, was adopted in the programme of organization of the city of Como «as an area of services representing the Regime» harmoniously concentrated in one spacious area communicating with the “old” piazza del Duomo. The initial plan for this building – the outcome of the team-work of Cesare Cattaneo, Pietro Lingeri, Luigi Origoni, Augusto Magnaghi Delfino and Mario Terzaghi – had won a competition launched in February 1938. It underwent a number of changes before it was finally approved, and again after the Second World War.
The building «is defined by two parallel blocks with five floors, of different depths, orthogonal to via Pessina on one side and to via dei Partigiani on the other.
The two main blocks are connected by two more of different heights, “suspended” between the two and independent one from the other.
On the inside they look out onto a courtyard (although of traditional origin, this is very typical of Rationalist architecture) and appear recessed with respect to the two large volumes.
The arcades, both on the ground floor and on the other floors, animate the architectural composition of the complex.
The principal façades are marked by the repetition of rectangles (partly windowed, partly filled-in, partly empty) which give an opportunity to modulate the surfaces, due to the “freedom” made possible by the arcades of the second floor» (L. Cavadini, Architettura razionalista nel territorio comasco, Provincia di Como, Como 2004).
The complex is the third and last building designed by Cesare Cattaneo, dead too soon in 1943.
While the building’s fundamental lines can still be recognized, the changes that have been wrought with time have altered its original design. At present the complex hosts the offices of the Local Health Authority (ASL in Italian) for the Province of Como.

Further information:
Lombardia Beni Culturali website – Sede dell’Unione Fascista dei Lavoratori dell’Industria

M. Di Salvo, IO. Il bigino di Cesare Cattaneo, Associazione Culturale Archivio Cattaneo, 2015

WORK IN PROGRESS

Fontana monumentale (Monumental Fountain)

Information
Location: the Monumental Fountain is in Como, Piazza Camerlata.
This point of interest is not located along itinerary no. 5, however it can be reached by bus from the city centre.

Description

Resulting from a collaboration between Cesare Cattaneo and Mario Radice, the Camerlata Fountain was built at the Sempione Park in Milan and was commissioned by the Municipality of Como on the occasion of the 6th Triennale in 1936. Only in 1962 was it erected in the square originally indicated by Mario Radice, i.e. piazza Camerlata, once known as piazza Corsica.
«The structure, apparently in fragile equilibrium, was described by Radice and Cattaneo as living from “harmonic combinations of rings and spheres”. The “play” of the circles can easily be read on the plan: the graduation of the circumferences responds to a criterion of proportionality.
The juxtaposition of full spheres and airy circles lends impetus to the construction, suggesting a sensation of joy and lightness, but at the same time of sturdiness, notwithstanding the rings which seem to hover in thin air.
The central fountain, enriched by a vertical ring, seems to function almost as a counterpoise to the airy structure, assuring the necessary solidity. This solidity is however technically secured by a pilaster which crosses the spheres and by the four annular shelves which branch off from it.
It is interesting to note in the sketches the starting point that led to the project, the desire to create a group of markers for the roadways which meet in the square: the use of a series of rings from which arrows depart to indicate the various directions inscribed in very large letters on the walls of the rings is very suggestive. It is likewise the reason for the choice of the number of rings, four, representing the four roads which lead to Varese, Como, Milan and Cantù. The fountain was thus conceived as a “monument to automobile traffic”» (L. Cavadini, Architettura razionalista nel territorio comasco, Provincia di Como, Como 2004).

Further information:
Lombardia Beni Culturali website – Fontana monumentale (Como)
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Fontana monumentale

M. Di Salvo, IO. Il bigino di Cesare Cattaneo, Associazione Culturale Archivio Cattaneo, 2015

WORK IN PROGRESS

Villa per un floricoltore (Villa for a floriculturist)

Information
Collocazione: the Villa for a floriculturist is in Como, via Pasquale Paoli 49
This point of interest is not located along itinerary no. 5, however it can be reached by bus from the city centre

Description

«The prismatic volume of the building (1936-1937) – built according to a plan by Giuseppe Terragni – rises above the ground floor, where emptiness is the dominating feature: the main structure is separated from the ground by pilotis which grant it an aura of lightness and connect the garden with the nursery garden on the back, to give a spatial and visual continuity. In fact, in the original project the portico was completely open and only after the end of the works was it closed as we see it today, which modified the architect’s idea and the relationship between the building and the external space.
The staircase, suspended and characterized by the terraced line of the steps, climbs to the first-floor. Each façade is different from the other, and is characterized by the free framework of the openings. So, ribbon windows can be seen on one side, while a cornice frames the second-floor balcony on the other» (www.architetturadelmoderno.it).
 

Further information:
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Villa per un floricultore

Stage 2 – From Piazza del Popolo to the Novocomum

Negozio Vitrum (Vitrum Shop)Albergo Posta (Posta Hotel)Monumento ai Caduti di Como (Como War Memorial)Sede della Canottieri Lario (Headquarters of the Lake Como Rowing Club)HangarCasa Giuliani-Frigerio (Giuliani-Frigerio House)Casa del Balilla Giuseppe Sinigaglia (Headquarters of the Fascist Youth Movement, entitled to Giuseppe Sinigaglia)Novocomum

WORK IN PROGRESS

Negozio Vitrum (Vitrum Shop)
Information
Location: the old Vitrum shop (which has now become the Croci clothes shop) is located in Piazza Duomo – corner of via Cinque Giornate in Como
Paving: the portico of Piazza Duomo is paved with stone slabs. Via Muralto is made of porphyry tiles, with a strip paved with stone slabs on each side. The step is made of stone
Architectural barriers: to access the shop from both its entrances one must climb a stone step
Access: saccess is from Piazza Duomo 9 (main entrance) and from via Cinque Giornate
Services: the Municipality of Como’s info point in Piazza Duomo. Bus stops available nearby. The “Trenord Como Lago” Railway Station is at a short walking distance from the piazza, in largo Leopardi
Leisure and Food: there are various bars and cafeterias, a tourist restaurant and quite a number of shops in the area
Other information: the area is within a limited traffic zone. Even if Piazza Duomo is completely car-free it may be quite crowded, with the presence, too, of election stalls, stalls advertising the activity of non-profit organizations, and street performers and artists

Description
«There is hardly anything left to remind Como citizens of a very important period of urban improvement. But there is a shop sign above a shop in Piazza del Duomo which, for some time now, has not sold the type of articles once on sale at its opening, eighty years ago. The store is called Vitrum and its Latinizing sign, designed by Giuseppe Terragni, is nowadays protected by an architectural restriction order issued by the Superintendence for Architectural Heritage, which also covers the green streaked Cipollino marble coating and the metal frames on the façade of the shop looking onto Piazza del Duomo and along the corner of via Cinque Giornate, the only remains of the original furnishings. Let us step back in time to the years 1929/30. Terragni is twenty-five years old and has recently achieved national fame, but not widespread appreciation, for his 1927 design of the Novocomum, the first example of a condominium built according to the principles of architectural Rationalism…
Luminosity was to be the dominant feature of the furnishings of a store like the Vitrum, which the owners Antonio Camanni & Sons, as the picturesque vintage note paper reveals, dedicated to the sale of “crystalware, fine and decorated glassware, lamps and lighting items, earthenware, china, household items” plus “demijohns, water-closets, cutlery”, and even “funeral wreaths” – made of ceramic flowers, of course. In other words items that would inherently act as sources of light or reflect external brightness, which the furniture had to enhance through an appropriate arrangement of shelves and transparent showcases, illuminated by “opaque glass” (similar to opaline) surfaces, and alternating vertical cylindrical shapes with horizontal ones so as to intensify the overall visual effect and make the most of contrasts, chiaroscuro nuances, and flashes of light, giving greater prominence to the items on display. The black and white photographs of the shop interiors do not do justice to another valuable element, the use of colour. Those who believe that the formal rigour typical of Rationalism ruled out any outburst of colour should admit to be mistaken, noting that on this occasion Terragni exploited the appeal of a wide range of colours for the floors, walls, and the sides of the shelves: pink, grey, light blue, salmon, blue, and green were chosen to accompany the sparkles of Venetian glass and Bohemian crystalware, vases, bowls, and cups on offer.
The Camanni company experienced the peak of its fortunes in the years preceding the Second World War, establishing a chain of Vitrum stores located in Bergamo, Monza, Piacenza, and Cremona, while maintaining its distribution centre in Como. The storm of war swept away any possibility of success in retailing, particularly with regard to the high-end sector, destined to the homes of the wealthier middle class. Nonetheless, Antonio Camanni managed to keep going until 1997, when his glassware and gift shop gave way to another commercial activity in the clothing sector. All the interior furnishings were dismantled, but the exterior was left much the same, although the shop sign is faded and is no longer illuminated. What remains is only a pale witness to past times which invites us to ponder on the value of the gifted designer who, even in minor projects, where the architectural vision had to fit in with the requirements of the items exposed for sale, managed to create an artistic whole, thus provoking our imagination using his solid professional excellence» (A. Longatti, Razionalismo “pop” all’insegna di Terragni, in La Provincia, 29 maggio 2011).

Further information:
AntiTHeSI website

WORK IN PROGRESS

Albergo Posta (Posta Hotel)

Information
Location: Albergo Posta (now the Posta Design Hotel) is in Como, via Garibaldi 2
Paving: the pavement next to the entrance is paved with stone slabs and cobble inserts. Piazza Volta is paved with granulated-concrete, with porphyry tile and stone slab inserts
Architectural barriers: to enter into the hotel one must climb three stone steps
Access: access is from via Garibaldi
Services: Chemist in via Garibaldi; automated teller machine in via Rubini
Leisure and Food: there are bars, cafeterias, restaurants and shops in the area
Other information: the area is a limited traffic zone

Description

The Posta Hotel is the outcome of a design (1930-1935) Giuseppe Terragni had to repeatedly modify after struggling with the competent Municipal commissions to have it approved. Of the initial plan only the spaces for the welcoming of the guests remained unchanged: the entrance, the lobby, the dining room with the relevant furniture and furnishings, and an orderly, though not overtly Rationalist façade, with large windows.
Not far from here, at number 19 of piazza Cavour, there is another hotel that carries Terragni’s “imprint”: the Metropole Suisse. Built in 1846 according to a plan by Tommaso Zannini, it underwent many alterations and refurbishments; in 1927 changes were made to the façades further to a design by Giuseppe Terragni made «in a style that, albeit still being 19thcentury and decorative, was already projected towards the future in the use and match of materials (polychrome marbles for the walls, iron and glass for the canopies)» (F. Cani, G. Monizza, Como e la sua storia. La Città Murata).

Further information:
Posta Design Hotel website
Hotel Metropole Suisse website

WORK IN PROGRESS

Monumento ai Caduti di Como (Como War Memorial)

Information
Location: the War Memorial is in viale Puecher in Como
Paving:the large piazza which precedes the War Memorial is paved with stone slabs; the steps and the landing are made of stone, too
Architectural barriers: to access the piazza which precedes the monument one has to climb a low step. Eighteen steps lead to the landing from where one may access the Sacellum, the sides of which are unprotected. An inner 140 step staircase with its original handrail leads to the terrace at the top. Another inner staircase leads downwards to the crypt
Access: access to the War Memorial is from viale Puecher
Services: parking available in the surroundings; bike-sharing docking station
Leisure and Food: bars and cafes in the area; sports facilities; public park with children’s playground
Other information:the terrace at the top is enclosed by a parapet, which is approx. 1 metre high. However, ropes have been placed along its perimeter in order to enhance safety and prevent people from getting too close to the parapet.

Description

The Como War Memorial is an imposing 33 metre high tower with large windows, resting on a grandiose base and soaring towards the sky. It is clearly visible and recognizable from a distance, and stands in remembrance of the many young lives sacrificed for the Nation, and as a warning to prevent the atrocities of war. The structure is made of concrete, covered in a variety of stone: the base is in ocellar gneiss blocks, the floors in Piedmont granite (from the Alzo quarries), the steps in Montorfano granite, while the exedras on the sides are made of beola stone and Moltrasio Limestone. The tower is entirely lined in Carso limestone, coming from the Aurisina (the same as used for the Miramare castle in Trieste) and Repen quarries. The façade overlooking viale Puecher carries the engraving «With the stones of the Carso the city glorifies its sons», while the engraving on the façade overlooking the lake says «Tonight we shall sleep in Trieste or in heaven with the heroes. 10 October 1916 – Antonio Sant’Elia», i.e. the words that Sant’Elia is believed to have spoken on the eve of the battle during which he lost his life.
From the entrance you may access the true “core” of the monument: the Sacellum of the Fallen, occupied by a massive block of Alzo white granite (8 x 1,70 x 1,20 metres), which carries the names of the 750 soldiers from Como who died in the First World War and some of those who died in the Second. A staircase located on the right of the Sacellum leads to the crypt, which hosts the altar and the ossuary, made in the Nineteen-Sixties to hold the remains of the soldiers from Como who lost their lives in the Second World War, who were later transferred to Como’s Monumental Cemetery. The crypt hosts, too, another Alzo granite slab with the names of other soldiers fallen during the Second World War.
A further narrow 140 step staircase with its original handrail leads from the sacellum to the terrace, from where one can enjoy: to the north, a spectacular view over the first basin of the lake; to the east, Mount Brunate with the Funicular; to the south, the city of Como; and, to the west, the Spina Verde park with the Baradello Castle. A lift was built on the west face of the monument, furnished in the style of the time, and, although it can still be seen, it has never been used.
In 1926 the Municipality of Como announced a competition for the creation of a War Memorial, initially to be erected in an area adjacent to the Broletto, at the core of the city. The winning project was submitted by Mario Asnago and Claudio Vender, but it was immediately put on hold due to strong opposition and criticism.
In 1930 Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who founded the futurist movement, came to the opening of the exhibition set up at the Broletto in Como in honour of Sant’Elia, and suggested to build the monument using a 1914 sketch of a “lighthouse-tower” for an “electrical power plant” designed by the great futurist architect from Como. Luigi Negretti, who was the “podestà” at the time, liked the idea, and entrusted to the futurist painter Enrico Prampolini the task «of translating into drawings on a large scale, interpreting the plan and giving a rough estimate of the cost for the marble required». AttiIio Terragni, assisted by his brother Giuseppe, was asked to be in charge of the construction work and, after Prampolini had given up the idea, was entrusted with the «artistic responsibility for the project». The two brothers radically modified the original plan.
The final result demonstrates how the initial “Futurist premise” of the structure turned out to be something which Giuseppe Terragni himself evaluated as «now plainly Rationalist and Purist». The works ended in 1933, and the monument was inaugurated on November 4th, on the anniversary of the end of the First World War, an Italian victory in more ways than one.

Further information:
Wikipedia – Monumento ai Caduti (Como)
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Monumento ai Caduti

WORK IN PROGRESS

Sede della Canottieri Lario (Headquarters of the Lake Como Rowing Club)

Information
Location: the headquarters of the Canottieri Lario (Lake Como Rowing Club) are in Como, viale Puecher 6
Paving: at the entrance of the club the surface of the pavement changes from asphalt to porphyry cubes, turning back to asphalt once past the entrance. The threshold is made of stone
Architectural barriers: there is a low threshold at the entrance
Access: access is from viale Puecher 6
Services: parking available in the area; bike-sharing docking station
Leisure and Food: bars and cafes in the area; sports facilities; public park

Description

The premises for the headquarters of the Canottieri Lario (Lake Como Rowing Club) were built according to a design by Gianni Mantero on land owned by the Municipality using funds donated by Mrs. Antonietta Sinigaglia in memory of her son, a champion oarsman who lost his life in the war. The only condition put by Mrs. Sinigaglia was that the building was to be, too, the headquarters of the local section of the National Association of Retired Grenadiers. The plan was drawn up according to a planimetric study drafted by Zurich architect Boedeker, who specialized in buildings for rowing clubs.
Luigi Cavadini writes that the building (1930-1931) «extends along the lakeside, immediately bringing to light the core of the project: to link, also figuratively, the athlete to the waters of Lake Como». The Latin adage «Parant Fortia Pectora Remi (Oars make strong chests)» is inscribed on the façade.
«The large glass window in the athletes’ resting area – the bar-reception hall – opens the inside of the building onto the lake and its surrounding mountains. From here one can catch a glimpse of the splendid diving-tower which leans out towards the lake with its boards on three different levels, almost a triumph of reinforced concrete. The training room, with its tank and stationary boat, is definitely a place of interest, as is the storeroom-pavilion for the boats and the finishing touches, particularly the stairways…
The building was enlarged in 1983 according to a plan by Enrico Mantero. The large volume in concrete and glass, including the gymnasium, and an outdoor pool for members’ use, were added on the right hand-side of the lakefront side and adapt well to the original structure, enhancing the impact of the building» (L. Cavadini, Architettura razionalista nel territorio comasco, Provincia di Como, Como 2004).

Further information:
Archivio Mantero website / Progetti – Canottieri Lario
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Sede Canottieri Lario

To learn more about the Lake Como Rowing Club:
Canottieri Lario website

WORK IN PROGRESS

Hangar

Information
Location: the Hangar overlooks Piazzale Somaini in Como
Paving: the widening at the entrance of the hangar is surfaced with asphalt
Architectural barriers: -
Access: access to the Hangar is from Piazzale Somaini. The premises of the Aero Club Como are located in the adjacent street, in viale Masia 44
Services: parking available in the area
Leisure and Food: bars and cafes in the area; sports facilities; public park

Description

Widespread interest for the activity of flying truly took off in Italy when, in the summer of 1929, the Reale Aero Club d’Italia (Royal Aero Club of Italy) encouraged the formation of the so-called “Air Tourism Squadrons”, which also had the aim of keeping the Italian Air Force’s reservists in practice.
Como, too, had been longing for its own Aero Club. The first hangar had been built back in 1927, near Villa Olmo, on the occasion of the celebrations for the centenary of the death of Alessandro Volta. There were many enthusiasts and aviators, including Giuseppe Terragni, and the promotional campaign by the Royal Aero Club of Italy represented the right opportunity to act.
During the first months of 1930, Terragni and other flight buffs created the Aero Club Como, entitling it to Giuseppe Ghislanzoni, the pilot from Calco killed in action during the First World War.
The Municipality of Como granted the land for the construction of the hangar, thanks to the involvement of the “podestà”, engineer Negretti.
Many plans were presented, including that of architect Terragni, who, with the project called «hangar for seaplanes, headquarters of the Aeroclub Como, and quarters for a squadron» took part in the 2nd Exhibition of Rationalist architecture of 1931 in Rome.
As described in the technical report, the project consists of a hangar with «nine – 14 metres high – parabolic arches» used as a shelter for the planes. Next to it are the headquarters of the Aero Club, with a double-height room with a «veranda wall overlooking the lake»; on the back of the hangar stands a building with «guardhouse, canteen, kitchen, dormitory with bathroom».
With reference to the layout of the buildings, the same technical report says that «they were to be erected on a triangular-shaped area with one side parallel to the lakeshore: this led to the idea of locating the offices and meeting rooms next to the hangar. … On the other hand, the service and shelter buildings were placed on the back, towards the city».
The solution for bonding the parabolic profile of the rib, required by the utility of the construction, and the volume of the building is found by extending the latter’s prospect through the gutter line, protruding it enough to create a frame around the entrance of the hangar.
The plan was ««punctually rejected»» on the absurd grounds that it lacked a «proper masking» of the parabola. The assignment was thus granted to engineer Carlo Ponci, he, too, very closely connected to the Aero Club. Ponci is responsible for the current steel portal frame structure of the hangar. However, the construction of the hangar proved too expensive for the Aero Club; the Municipality of Como bore the costs for its completion and retained the ownership of the structures that were built, again designed by Ponci. In 1934 Terragni «having been entrusted by the Council of the Ghislanzoni Aero Club, and in his capacity as chairman of the technical committee» had drawn up the plan for «the Club’s headquarters» and for the «quarters of the military squadron». This is represented in the design drawings together with the currently existing hangar and is composed of two volumes: one parallel to the back of the hangar containing the garage, the living room and the operational headquarters of the squadron, the other perpendicular to the first and hosting the quarters.
However, in actual fact, this part, too, was later completed (in 1935) by Ponci, who chose a solution volumetrically similar to that suggested by Terragni.
The Aero Club Como continues to manage to this day what once was the “Royal Airport Giuseppe Ghislanzoni”, now called the Idroscalo Internazionale di Como (Como International Seaplane Base). Officially recognized as Airport Traffic Zone, it is the only international airport on water in Europe.
In its capacity as airport managing body, the Aero Club operates under the Ministry of Transport and is controlled by the Malpensa Airport Department. As well as operating as a civil airport with its own fire-fighting structure, it performs services of civil protection, land protection, and customs and excise.
Like all the other buildings of the “citadel of sport”, the Hangar complex is protected by the Superintendence for Architectural and Landscape Heritage.

Quotes drawn from:
C. Baj, Volare a Como, Editoriale, casa editrice del Corriere di Como, Como 2009
Triennale di Milano e Centro Studi G. Terragni, in AA. VV, Giuseppe Terragni, Electa, Milano 1996
G. Ciucci, Giuseppe Terragni Opera completa, Electa, Milano 1996, ristampa 2001
B. Zevi, Giuseppe Terragni, Zanichelli, Bologna 1980, ristampa 1988

Further information:
Aero Club Como website

WORK IN PROGRESS

Casa Giuliani-Frigerio (Giuliani-Frigerio House)

Information
Location: Casa Giuliani-Frigerio is in Como, viale Rosselli 24
Paving: the pavement next to the entrance is surfaced with asphalt. Beyond the iron gate of the enclosure there is a strip paved with stone slabs which precedes the four stone steps leading to the landing
Architectural barriers: four steps lead to the landing
Services: parking available in the area
Leisure and Food: bars, cafes, and a hotel in the area; sports facilities
Other information: the building is used as a private home and is therefore not open for visits

Description

Casa Giuliani-Frigerio was the last building (1939-1940) designed by Giuseppe Terragni. As with many other works of Terragni, engineer Renato Uslenghi was responsible for the structure. Terragni was called to arms on the Russian war front shortly after setting up the building yard and followed the work through a dense correspondence with his friend and collaborator Luigi Zuccoli, who had replaced him in carrying out the construction.
«Built on four levels above the ground, the house has a mezzanine floor with two rooms located well at the back of the northwestern perimeter, so as to leave sufficient space for a large entrance porch.
The façades are characterized by a continuous alternation between protuberances and recesses; the contrast between the balcony levels, the recessed windows and the overhangs creates a sense of movement enhanced by the relationship between the transparent elements, the iron framework and the walls.
The façades are softened by the widespread presence of glass on the balcony parapets, as well as in the vertical panels which separate the single housing units. The iron framework on the façade overlooking via Campo Garibaldi is used to hold the canvas sunshades.
The apartments, three on each floor, are on different levels. This dislocation of the floors is visible on the façades, thus straying from the classical parallelepiped scheme. Even the internal arrangement of the apartments seems extremely fluid; its moveable walls and folding doors try to achieve a more dynamic exploitation of the space for the house as well.
The uppermost floor is occupied by the maisonette of the client, laid out on three separate levels. The movement of the floors (both vertical as well as horizontal) and of the shape of the windows and doors bestow further freedom on the entire structure…
If the events of the war had not interfered with his health, the architect would probably have this project as a sounding-board to develop a new phase in his research and experimentation» (www.lombardiabeniculturali.it).
Unlike other works by Terragni, the building has preserved the original appearance of its key elements and finishing to this day. In 1971 the marble tesserae coating of the façade, the parapets, and the metal and pebble elements of the building were partially restored. Only the entrance doors were replaced, and the shutters closing the porch were removed.

Further information:
Lombardia Beni Culturali website – Casa Giuliani-Frigerio
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Casa Giuliani-Frigerio

WORK IN PROGRESS

Casa del Balilla “Giuseppe Sinigaglia (Headquarters of the Fascist Youth Movement, entitled to Giuseppe Sinigaglia)

Information
Location: the Casa del Balilla “Giuseppe Sinigaglia” is in Como, viale Sinigaglia
Paving: the pavement overlooked by the façade is surfaced with asphalt. The raised area leading to the entrance, the steps and the ramp are made of stone tiles
Architectural barrierse: the swimming-pool entrance is preceded by a large raised area parallel to the pavement, protected by an approx. 1.40 metre high railing. It can be accessed either by climbing two steps on one of its sides, or by using the ramp on the other
Access: access is from viale Sinigaglia
Services: parking available in the area
Leisure and Food: bars, cafes, and a hotel in the area; sports facilities; public park

Description

In 1932 the Opera Nazionale Balilla (Italian Fascist Youth Movement) bought the area where the “Giuseppe Sinigaglia” stadium stood. It had been built between 1926 and 1927 according to a plan drawn up by architect Giovanni Greppi for the centenary (1927) of the death of Alessandro Volta. The engineer Gianni Mantero was entrusted with the task of turning it into the Youth Movement’s headquarters. Mantero modified the stands and completely restructured the entrance and façade of the original stadium, completing the new building between 1933 and 1934.
The façade cleverly draws upon the contrast between smooth plastered surfaces painted dark red, large windows in light grey and impressive marble portals.
With a length of 141 meters, the building is composed of three main bodies: a central one containing a gymnasium, and two side bodies where a swimming-pool and the former local headquarters of the Opera Nazionale Balilla are located.
Inside the swimming-pool – the waters of which have different depths (between 0.47 to 3.17 metres) – the diving board is covered in an exedra in glass block framed in concrete which takes you to the terrace and garden, well visible from the outside. After many years of renovation works, the swimming-pool was re-opened in 2007 and offers – as well as the possibility to swim – swimming courses and other activities such as underwater diving, watergym, diving and wellness.
On the first storey of the two wings there are offices flanked by a wide corridor which is divided from them by polished wooden partitions with clear glazing; the staircase which leads to this level is encased in a fully glazed semicircle inserted into the wall in front of the main entrance.

Further information:
Archivio Mantero website / Progetti – Casa del Balilla e Stadio
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Casa del Balilla Giuseppe Sinigaglia

To learn more about the Sinigaglia Swimming Pool:
Como Servizi Urbani website

WORK IN PROGRESS

Novocomum

Information
Location: the Novocomum complex is in Como, viale Sinigaglia 1
Paving: the pavement next to the entrance is surfaced with asphalt. The threshold before the main entrance and the eight steps of the side entrances are made of stone
Architectural barriers: the main entrance of viale Sinigaglia is preceded by a small threshold. The two side entrances, on the right and left corners of the building, are preceded by unprotected landings overlooking viale Sinigaglia. To access the landings one has to climb eight stone steps
Access: the main access is from viale Sinigaglia 1
Services: parking available in the area
Leisure and Food: bars, cafes, and a hotel in the area; sports facilities; public park
Other information: the building is used as a private home; however, visits can be arranged by contacting the “Amici del Novocomum” society tel. 031.572793; cavmar@tin.it

Description

The Novocomum, a work commissioned in 1927 to a very young Giuseppe Terragni (he was only twenty-three years old) by Elio Peduzzi, the managing director of the Novocomum building company from Olgiate Comasco, is also known as the “transatlantic liner” due to its shape and dimensions. Terragni, after submitting a classical-style project to the building commission, created a totally modern work, consisting of five floors which complete the block by joining with the pre-existing adjacent building designed by architect Caranchini. This “surprise action” caused a great scandal in town. Although at first it was decided that it would have to be demolished, the Novocomum was “saved” by the opinion of a special Commission set up by the Municipality, the far-sighted decision whereof enabled us to admire a building that is one of the true milestones of Rationalist architecture.
«When designing the Novocomum, Terragni repeatedly made reference to Caranchini’s building, suggesting the same dimensions and the same height, i.e five above-ground levels. The terraced covering of the Novocomum was originally higher than the pitched roof of the adjacent building, to which two additional floors were added only later on. The overall structure is relatively simple, comb-like, and obtained by drawing the minor buildings close to the main one, stretched along via Sinigaglia, where the complex has its entrance…The characterizing feature of the building lies in its corners, which are whittled away and replaced by a cylindrical volume at the entresol, third and fourth floor. While the second level keeps the maximum dimension of the building within a curvilinear movement, the fifth and top level is marked by an orthogonal angle, which dominates the semicircular room at the back of the lower level, albeit towering above the entire angular mass of the building… There are eight apartments on each floor, located according to the traditional scheme of a corridor with flats aligned on its two sides (www.lombardiabeniculturali.it).
Worthy of interest is the use of colour: Terragni chose hazelnut for the vertical surfaces of the façade, orange for juts and recesses, and light blue for the parallel lines of the iron parapets. The façade of the Novocomum had already lost its original colours by the Fifties with the application of tiny marble tesserae on the façade. Nonetheless, the most recent restoration work managed to bring back the original colour palette.
Although the Novocomum «does not overlook the lake, it is however in direct relationship with it. The very architecture of the building calls the lake to mind: its corners, consisting of multi-storey void cylinders, explicitly refer to the view and contemplation of the surrounding space, which the nearby waters further expand into the open. Having to measure itself against “unique” and “self-sufficient” places and spaces, such as the lake, the Novocomum does not elude the need to be modelled according to recognizable and extremely outright shapes. The prevailing image conveyed by the building is that of the modern home, the “machine for living in”» (www.lombardiabeniculturali.it). The Novocomum is considered to be the first important example of Rationalist architecture in Italy, setting the standard for a new way of experiencing and thinking about the home and of living inside the city. It was set to be the home of the future.

Further information:
Wikipedia – Novocomum
Lombardia Beni Culturali website – Novocomum
Iter website for the enhancement and promotion of cultural tourism related to modern architecture – Novocomum