Built from 1928 to 1929 following a project by Giuseppe Terragni, Novocomum is one of the first examples of modern architecture in Italy, and the target of thousands of tourists who every year linger in front of the palace to contemplate its avant-garde features that have made it so famous worldwide. The story is actually unique and deserves to be mentioned. The project, which was entrusted to twenty-year old Architect Terragni, was presented to the Municipality prior to its implementation in order to obtain the building permit. But, fearing that it would be rejected for its avant-garde architectural features, Terragni submitted some diagrams that differed from the project, and which depicted a building with neoclassical façades. But, as soon as the scaffoldings were assembled, he summoned the real estate firm Novocomum and gave them his real project. But a scandal broke out when construction works were completed and the scaffoldings were removed! However, the committee of experts summoned to decide about the course of action to be implemented established that “the building did not damage the decorum of the site”, and from that moment onwards the Novocomum rightfully entered the history of Italian architecture. The following year it was declared a “symbol of emerging rationalist architecture”.
The restoration of the posterior façade, followed by Architect Ambrosini, commenced last winter. Half the work was completed before summer, while the second scaffolding was dismantled late in November. “Restoration works included an initial historical study and analysis of the building for exploratory and survey purposes. The stratigraphic analysis that provided detailed information about the original colour was crucial”, says Architect Ambrosini. “In the period when the building was constructed, such a particular use of colour was quite rare. Hence, we were keen on studying the surfaces in detail to trace that which had been partly modified and/or concealed by subsequent interventions over the years”.
“Period publications were extremely useful as they described what the building looked like when it was first completed. These documents enabled us to carry out a targeted search. We knew what we were looking for”… “It was very interesting to discover that what we see today is the outcome of Giuseppe Terragni’s second thoughts. It was initially partly coloured quite differently. Everything could be traced to colours in the shades of green, which is today present on some doors and window shutters.”
The assistance of Erminio Crivelli from Chrèon’s laboratory was crucial not only to formulate the exact hue that matched the original colour but also to establish the painting cycle that was most suitable to respect the characteristics of the original cycle. “It is the first time that the Superintendency, which obviously followed every phase of the renovation works, standardised the use of a siloxane cycle for outdoor applications to complete such a delicate process on a rationalist building”.
The work was divided into two phases. Precisely, the first applied our primer and insulation Primer “Edilpaint”, while Idropittura Silossanica Prof was the absolute protagonist of the second phase with its very high breathing and water-repellent power that prevents the penetration of rain and damp.
The topic, which will without doubt be of interest to the architectural world, will be discussed during a Training Course accredited by the Association of Architects of Como. Scheduled for next Spring, the course will include a presentation by Chrèon’s Laboratory Manager Erminio Crivelli, along with Arch. Alberto Artioli (for many years the Superintendent of Architectural Heritage and Landscape of the provinces of Milan, Bergamo, Como, Pavia, Sondrio, Lecco and Lodi) and Arch. Luca Ambrosini.