Near the end of 1934, Francesco Moscheni, who had been living in Torino for a few years but was born in the town of Nembro, decided to build a “majestic building” on his own expenses, to be used as the headquarter of Opera Nazionale Balilla (O.N.B.), an Italian Fascist youth organization, and of other welfare associations.
The engineer Luigi Bergonzo, based in Bergamo, was in charge of the project, but the building’s design is commonmy attributed to his son Alziro, who had freshly graduated in Architecture at Politecnico di Milano University and had already won a tendering procedure for the building of Casa el Balilla in Bergamo, the current Piazza della Libertà and former Education Agency Headquarter. 
The construction works were appointed to the building contractor Morosini, based in Nembro, and began on June 1935. After a series of delays and postponements, the inauguration date was set for Sunday, May 17 1936. 
The total investment consisted of 4000.000 lire: a total amount of 13.200 working days for approximately fifty people working for each of the two work shifts.

The building, consisting of two floors and approximately eleven meters high, was mostly built in masonry stone, got on site. A limited amount of iron was used, due to the autarkic restrictions on raw materials import. Reinforced concrete was only used in the windows lintels, in the first floor gallery’s load-bearing structure and in most of the ceilings.

For the main façade was painted with red plaster with white stripes shaping a rectangle pattern. The other sides were white, creating a sharp contrast to the main façade emphasizing the hierarchy among the building’s four sides and stressing the representative role of the main one.

The archways, a typical element in Bergonzo’s buildings, are in plastered bricks, to resemble the Zandobbio white marble.

Minimalism and simplicity are the main features of this classic-style elements, the archway and the trilith, lending the building an abstract and metaphysical allure.

Unlike most of Bergonzo’s following works, lavish decorations are missing in the Modernissimo, due to the overall frugality of Nembro’s Casa del Balilla construction works.

However, we should mention the bas-relief in concrete representing “the book and the musket”, symbols of Opera Balilla association and its education programme, which can be seen on via Moscheni side. On the other side, the Fascist Eagle overlooked the square. 

The architecture complex was designed during the fascist period to house the Gioventù Italiana del Littorio youth association. Therefore, it features several spaces for theatre, cinema and gatherings, along with the welfare spaces.

It underwent both functional and regulatory changes during the construction works and even later.

The last intended use was post office. Afterwards, it remained neglected over many years, during which several hypotheses were made, also including demolition, but eventually the building was rescued and renovated. 

In 2005, the architecture firm Gritti Architetti was entrusted to design an integrated plan aimed to reconfigure Nembro’s civic centre and to reshape the relations among buildings and open spaces dating back to the year 1934.

In fact, Bergonzo also designed Piazza Littorio (the current Piazza della Libertà), which was finished on south with the construction of the Casa del Fascio building, the current Town Hall. 

The main goal of the integrated plan carried out by Gruppo Tironi (Alzano Lombardo, Bergamo) was the restoration of the original relationship between the two buildings, by turning the square into a pedestrian space and placing the community’s main representative functions all around it and underneath it: the Town Hall, the new Theatre – Concert hall, a two-levels shopping arcade and an extension of the new public parking lot. 

The project’s main focus was the restoration of the ex Modernissimo movie theatre.

Reinterpreting its original role, a concert hall was built that can also host theatre acts, congresses, conferences and meetings.

After the restoration work, people can enter the hall by the original two-levels foyer, which was completely restored just like the rest of the ex movie theatre.

Instead of the former separation between parterre and balcony, a single space for the audience was created.

Therefore, the new plan introduced bleachers with 300 seats in the wide space sustained by the original iron trusses (which are now highlighted), independent from the wall structures.

The bleachers are in reinforced concrete and covered with bamboo wood.

The lateral sides connected to the perimeter walls form two opposite balconies.

The wooden lining patterns and a system of oriented panels placed between the trusses and the reinforcement beams ensure a high level acoustic response in the hall.

The stage, designed as a black box with a light wood floor, can host a 60 elements (at leasts) orchestra or all the required equipment for a congress.

The theatre has any kind of service for the audience, dressing rooms for artists and warehouses built in the space underneath the bleachers.

Every outdoor decoration has been carefully preserved, as well as the colours and the original textures of the plasters, by means of a scrupulous work of sampling.

Today, the Modernissimo, the new Piazza della Libertà, the Moscheni public gardens, the Shops Arcade and the Parking lot represent the core of the wide urban renewal of the civic centre, making Nembro an architecture experimentation field where tradition and innovation come together. 

Reference stop:
Nembro Centro

Distance: 0,3 KM
Extimated time:
  • 2 min.
  • 7 min.
How to reach Auditorium “Modernissimo”

Auditorium “Modernissimo” is located in Piazza della Libertà.
From TEB stop, follow the pedestrian route alongside Parco Rotondo and going up to Piaza della Repubblica and then Piazza della Libertà.
The Auditorium is at the end of the square, inside the building where also Bottega Gherim Gusto Solidale is located. 

Points of Interest