25 June 2024

From the Fascist Cult of Youth
to Neoliberal Privatisation.
The Multilayered Identities
of the Fara Holiday Camp for Children
in Chiavari (Genoa)

Universidad de Valladolid, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Respondent: Sarah Aziz, University of New Mexico and The Bartlett School of Architecture

A view of the refurbished Fara Marine Colony in Chiavari (Italy). Source: Enrico Pinna & Jacopo Baccani (2022).

This work analyses the process of metamorphosis experienced by the Gustavo Fara holiday camp (colonia Fara) in the Italian municipality of Chiavari (Genoa) from the 1930s until today.
The Modernism-inspired architecture –a listed building– was devoted to the Fascist cult of youth (1936–1940) and then to a territorial military hospital (1940–1943). After the German Organisation Todt occupation (1943–1945), the former colonia was transformed into the “Refugee Collection Centre no. 72” (1946–1955) to house approximately a thousand families of Italian exiles from Istria, Rijeka, and Dalmatia. Then, the building was renovated to become an international hotel (Faro Residence Centre; 1965–1972).
After six years of abandonment, the property was transferred to the Liguria Region: the area was partially reused as a primary school and became home to the Pro-Scogli nautical club (1978–1999). Eventually, the City Council’s rent-seeking approach refurbished the colonia Fara into the (private) luxury hotel “Torre Fara” (2016–2022), a tumultuous affair that experienced various appraisals and estimates of the property’s value, debate with heritage and environmental associations, court appeals, and calls for tenders.
Over 90 years, this architectural heritage has witnessed numerous historical layers that have not been made equally visible as the first (summer camp) and last (luxury hotel) functions. For this reason, the research delves into the multicultural and multilingual histories tied to various political spheres that have taken place over time in this piece of architectural heritage to critically interpret its evolution. The colonia Fara is the result of plural histories that have changed its skin, passing through multiple phases with as much as social, symbolic, and identity implications. Despite being seen as a Fascist difficult heritage in the post-1945, it had performed many public functions, but the privatisation led to the loss of many characters of the past.


The Heritage of Minors, Revisited

ETH Zurich

Respondent: Jeremy Lee Wolin, Princeton University

Mümliswil Children’s Home, Switzerland, architect: Hannes Meyer, 1939, source of image: Bauten für die Jugend, Das Werk: Architektur und Kunst, 1953, photo by M. Wolgensinger.

In 2012, the Mümliswil Children’s Home—a child therapy institution in the Canton of Solothurn, Switzerland, built in 1939, designed by Swiss architect Hannes Meyer—was designated under protection in the canton’s monument inventory. Criteria for this classification were its architectural design, authorship, and progressive pedagogical concept, three aspects which have been celebrated in a great number of publications related to this object. One year later (2013), the Mümliswil Children’s Home was declared the First National Memorial for Children in Institutional Care (Heimkinder) and ‘Contract Children’ (Verdingkinder), attached as it is to a dark chapter in Switzerland’s social history, one associated with child labor, coercion, and abuse in institutional care. This presentation discusses the placing of children and their built environments within architectural history and how formal heritage processes have failed to address histories, stories, and memories of the children. Spaces and buildings designed for children, in their vast majority permanently built and monumental, have been documented, explored, and accordingly inventoried, due to their design, style, typology, and authorship, rather than examined in relation to their capacity to be lived in by children. Children—or minors, a term that implies the notion of minority—have attracted little attention within architectural history and remain an underrepresented heritage group. The presentation has been developed in the frame of my doctoral project entitled Minor(s’) Heritage, which forms part of the project “A Future for Whose Past? The Heritage of Minorities, Fringe Groups and People without a Lobby” at the Chair of Construction Heritage and Preservation, ETH Zurich in collaboration with ICOMOS Suisse, and which is kindly supported by the Sophie Afenduli Foundation and the Foundation for Education and European Culture.

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