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Como: a route in the cradle of rationalism

Como Off the beaten track

Como: a route in the cradle of rationalism


Here we are with a little project conceived to enrich our reader’s experiences.

We thought that, to better understand the architecture of Rome and Italy in general we could propose you some articles about other cities too.

So, we are going to start with these short digressions about what we decided to call “Architectures on a day trip” with the city of Como.

This Lombard regional capital is a city that you necessary need to visit if you want to deeply understand Italian rationalism.

The history of Rational Architecture in Italy was in fact born in Lombardy within a group of students who graduated from the Polytechnic University of Milan during the 1920s and grouped together in the so-called Gruppo 7 first, and later in the MIAR (Rational Architecture Italian Movement).

Among this former students there were Luigi Figini, Adalberto Libera, Gino Pollini, Guido Frette, Sebastiano Larco and Carlo Enrico Rava, and Giuseppe Terragni from Como.

These idealist young men published in 1926 a series of articles on the architecture magazine Rassegna Italiana, which contained the principles of Italian rationalism: with their sight set on what was happening abroad, they suggested to go back to order and rigour, to give up trappings and to give a new boost to Italian architecture.

Especially Giuseppe Terragni stood out as a leading personality inside the group; he was an impressive architect who was just twenty-three when he set up his first studio and who, despite his early death (he was thirthy-nine years old), left us some building that later became emblematic for Italian rationalism.

Almost all these buildings stand in the area of Como, where Terragni spent his life and worked most of the time. Among these, precisely in the city of Como, we can mention: the Novocomum (1927-1929), the Casa del Fascio (1936) and the Asilo Sant’Elia (1936-1937).

Terragni’s example and his rationalist theories found in the city of Como a good response, and so this became a fertile ground for the experimentation of this architectural language, mostly meant as the physical representation of an innovating boost able to prepare the city, with its significant architectures, to modernity, at the same time connecting it with the past.

This is the reason why Como offers, beside Terragni’s works, other interesting examples of rationalism, like the Sinigaglia Stadium or the Canottieri Lario by the engineer Gianni Mantero.

At Terragni’s side other architects from Como worked, like for instance Pietro Lingeri, he too involved in projects by his more known colleague and active in interesting experimentations like some residences on the lake and a few artist hoses on the Isola Comancina strongly inspired by Le Corbusier.

So, a deeper look to Italian rationalist architecture cannot neglect a visit to Como, and the knowledge of Terragni’s works is essential to understand both Italian and international architecture’s developments.

Terragni for instance is in fact one of the architectural points of reference that constituted the basis for the creation of the post-modern language by Peter Eisenman (you can have a look to his American houses that go on precisely from the deconstruction of Terragni’s model)

This is why Como represents the cradle of rationalism and a destination impossible to set aside.

It is our job to give you some information about the architecture you should see…


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