Crespi: a Unesco World Heritage Jewel
Crespi d’Adda is located 18 kilometres (11 miles) from Bergamo. It is a working-class village founded in 1878, completed at the end of the 1920s and has remained unchanged to this day. It is a perfect example of industrial architecture and in 1995, UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site.
The Crespi were a family from Busto Arsizio that were in the textile manufacturing business. At the end of the 1800s, Cristoforo Benigno Crespi found the area at the border between the provinces of Bergamo and Milano, where they are divided by the Adda River, and bought the land, re-routed water from a canal to generate power and built the first part of the production facility, the spinning mill.
Cristoforo’s son, Silvio, took the project even further. After graduating from university, he travelled and worked in Germany and England. It was in the latter that he discovered the Garden Cities, urban centres where work facilities and residences were adjacent. After he returned to Italy, Silvio applied the Garden Cities prototype to the village his father had founded. Workers in the production facility lived in homes in the village and had the right to certain services, such as, for example, books for school. The homes were perfectly aligned along the axis of streets, each one had a garden that, at one time, was the vegetable garden. The fences were made from packing material, a forward-thinking example of recycling.
A separate section of the village contained the homes of the department managers and just beyond, the executives’ homes. They are cottages in the twentieth-century, Anglo-Saxon style. Overlooking the entire area was the home of the Crespi family, which was built in the style of a medieval castle. The main street of the city of Crespi dead-ends at a structure that is somewhere between a pyramid and a Mayan building. At its base are two large semi-circular walls that appear to be arms reaching out. This is the mausoleum of the Crespi family. Below, at ground level, just as in an English cemetery, memorial stones mark the graves of the family members.