Colonie are the modernist camps built by the Fascists in Italy in the 1920s and 30s to coltivate discipline and loyalty among the children of the urban poor. Many of these colonie, some of Europe’s best modernist buildings, have been abandoned since the 1940s and are now wasteland.
Colonia Novarese (1934) was designed by Giuseppe Peverelli and built in the staggeringly short time of just 126 days. The functions of the Colonia Novarese where combined in one single structure, like a miniature version of the Lingotto FIAT factory in Turin, but with the addition of strip windows.
The tower, the principal feature of the front of the building, was entirely clad in glass and modelled as a gigantic illuminated fascio. The structure was coldly functional, intended as a demonstration of the resolution of the Fascist will. The building’s streamlined silhouette lent it more than a passing resemblance to a warship; sufficiently so to encourage strafing attacks by Allied aircraft during Second World War.
In dereliction, Colonia Novarese has become a focus for delinquent activity. The core of the building is burnt out. In the darkened void at its heart stands an empty plinth, inscribed Duce, which once carried Mussolini’s statue. Now it is a focus for nihilistic neo-fascist graffiti.
Picture and description are part of the great photobook “Fascismo Abbandonato, the children’s colonie of Mussolini’s Italy” from artist Dan Dubowitz and architect Patrick Duerden, that traveled around Italy discovering the abandoned colonie.