An entire town, with all the necessary services, built to function around the rhythms and demands of a cotton factory
Since 1995, the village of Crespi d’Adda appears on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The entry describes it as “an outstanding example of the 19th- and early 20th-century ‘company towns’ built in Europe and North America by enlightened industrialists to meet the workers’ needs. The site is still remarkably intact and is partly used for industrial purposes, although changing economic and social conditions now threaten its survival.”
Crespi d’Adda is the perfect model of an architectural complex that illustrates a rather significant historical period: that of the birth of Italy’s modern industry
Situated in the province of Bergamo, between two rivers, Adda and Brembo, it was created in 1878 by the Crespis. They were a family of cotton manufacturers that wanted to create the “ideal workers’ village.” In this “little world,” the owners “reigned” from their magnificent castle and took care of their employees. The idea resembled that of a fief. Thus, the Crespis’ residence was a symbol of both their authority and benevolence toward the workers and their families. The residents of the village consisted only of the factory’s employees, meaning the life of the community revolved entirely around the factory – in front of which the main road was built -, its rhythms and demands. “From the cradle to the grave” both inside and outside the factory, the master provided for all the needs of the employees and their dependents. There weren’t only houses but also all the public services necessary for functioning community life: church, school, hospital, recreation club, theatre, public baths, clothing and food shops, cemetery, etc.
Crespi d’Adda is the perfect model of an architectural complex that illustrates a rather significant historical period: that of the birth of Italy’s modern industry. Moreover, the site has been well maintained and still bears its original urban and architectonic characteristics. Today, it still is a functioning community largely constituted by descendants of the original employees. However, the cotton factory stopped its production in 2004.