Terragni’s nusery: child sized architecture

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The Sant’Elia Nursery, officially known as the “Antonio Sant’Elia” Infant School is a rationalist-style building in Como designed in 1935 and created in 1936-1937 by Giuseppe Terragni. A poetic design of light and shapes, low rooms and large windows created to perfectly meet the needs of ‘little people’, this is an example of architecture that throws the walls wide open to embrace the sun, air, light and nature – a design created by Terragni with the commitment and care of a father.

At the beginning of his report on the project Terragni wrote “From a room for the custody of children” the nursery today rises to assume the dignity of a House for a Big Family. And the house has the gifts of being joyfully welcoming, scrupulously hygienic and having serene spirituality. The construction standards that adapt themselves to these needs are resolved in an architecture that opens the walls to the sun, greenery, light and nature. Naturalist Architecture that takes forms, a noble social mission and a spiritual content from Rationalism.


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This building is not on any of Como’s traditional tourist circuits but worth discovering for the modernity of Terragni’s design which apart from being deeply sensitive to the needs of children, was also notable for the particular social value enjoyed by the Asilo Sant’Elia’s, conceived as it was for a peripheral and particularly poor part of Como and intended for children whose mothers, in addition to having to do heavy housework (one of the many municipal washhouses where women went to wash clothes is still visible in front of the nursery), were engaged as workers in the mostly textiles factories of the area.
What is also not well known is the fact that Terragni studied carefully all the furnishings, both for children and for adult staff, bringing a sense of uniformity of colour and shape and harmonising the fixed architectural elements with the mobile ones.


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Nella mostra saranno esposti documenti storici, materiale fotografico, testi d’epoca, i piccoli arredi per i bambini. Non tutti sanno infatti che Terragni studiò con cura anche tutti gli arredi, sia per i bambini che per il personale adulto, uniformando nei colori e nelle forme gli elementi architettonici fissi con quelli mobili.
In mostra ci saranno le tre tipologie di seggioline tra cui la versione ridotta ’Lariana’, progettata da Terragni, i banchetti delle aule, gli armadietti spogliatoi e un lungo mobile contenitore, sempre di disegno dell’architetto oltre all’arredo dell’infermeria e a un esempio originale della poltrona ‘Benita’ (in seguito ribattezzata “Sant’Elia”) presente nell’arredo dell’Asilo così come in quello della “Casa del fascio” di Como, oltre alla documentazione relativa alla genesi del progetto architettonico.

Como – Pinacoteca Civica
Via Diaz 84

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corte interna (1)
portico d'ingresso a sbalzo (1)
sala di ricreazione (1)
infermeria (1)
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Annalisa Guerisoli

Annalisa Guerisoli

Instagram addicted, appassionata di luoghi abbandonati, mi cibo di viaggi e di nutella. Astenersi fan dell'uncinetto e del cucito.

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