The (ex) “Casa del Fascio” and the Terragni’s rationalist architecture in Como
Como is truly a city to discover, here you can find a mix of history, art and culture, from the Roman era to the twentieth century. Today I want to speak of a historic building, the (ex) “Casa del Fascio” (local Fascist branch) designed by the great Giuseppe Terragni.
The architect, born in 1904 in Meda, is still remembered for being the greatest exponent of the Italian Movement for Rational Architecture (MIAR), in 1927 he opened a studio in Como with his brother Attilio, engineer. Among the first works that made immediately guess his talent, Giuseppe Terragni performed the renovation of the Hotel Metropole-Suisse, the Erba Incino war memorial and, between 1927 and 1929, the construction of the building ‘Novocomum” (apartments in Como). The construction of the “Fascist House” began with the project in 1932 and it was completed four years later, in 1936.
Giuseppe Terragni and the former “Casa del Fascio”: a great example of modern architecture in Como
The building, now recognized worldwide as a true cornerstone of modern and rationalist, is essential and linear, it is in fact a parallelepiped with many geometric surfaces made with materials such as Botticino, glass blocks, glass, which create a continuous parallel and perpendicular lines, full and empty parts that give a rhythm ordered between light and dark.
Giuseppe Terragni could in fact turn into an art’s work a traditional urban palace using a constructive grid of reinforced concrete. The impression that it is a real monument is confirmed by the three steps that you have to raise to reach the “Casa del Fascio” that is above the street level, but the simplicity makes this Terragni’s work in equilibrium with the surrounding environment, in particular with the Social Theatre and the Como Cathedral, that are on the front of the building and with Brunate, a village perched on the hill that frames the eastern area of Como, that is the background of this rationalist architecture.
The structure of the building is square and is spread over four floors, with a large central hall with double height. Inside the ex “Casa del Fascio” the effect of “chiaroscuro” continues thanks to the use of Trani marble and black marble from Belgium. Before arriving at the Directorate’s hall, offices and galleries, you must take an entrance (covered by canopies of glass blocks that allow a view of the Brunate’s hill from the inside) and through eighteen-glazed doors.
Giuseppe Terragni and the Fascist period: doubts unresolved
When the interior was built, the exterior was decorated with propaganda images, that with the passing of the time have been taken away or were lost. Around Terragni and the decision to build a house for the Fascist Party headquarters still today theorize many thoughts: was Giuseppe Terragni fascist or not?
There is no a certain answer, and I do not think it ever comes. It seems that the fascist period for the city and the area of Como has just been full of events that gave rise to great theories and mysteries (among many: the Dongo’s gold, Mussolini’s capture and killing).
But what is certain is that the architect Giuseppe Terragni had a life of success, but unfortunately very short: he died in 1943, just 39 years old, due to a cerebral thrombosis.
It remains a large and vivid memory in Como and worldwide: Giuseppe Terragni was in fact a great artist who permitted to let Como know not only for its beautiful lake, but also for its beautiful works of modern architecture. The former “Casa del Fascio” since 1957 has become the seat of the Guardia di Finanza’s Como Provincial Command, and it was depicted on the stamp of 2004 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Terragni.
Como, as you know, is about 15 minutes by car from the Hotel Posta that is located in Moltrasio. Then you can easily visit the city and all its sights by boat and by bus (pier and bus stop are just in front of the Hotel) or, if you prefer, with your car.
I, Patricia and all the staff are as always ready to advise you on the best itinerary to visit Como and its lake.
We look forward, as always, with a smile!