Winning design for Nonantola’s Jewish chidren museum announced
The Villa Emma Foundation has announced the results of an international design competition for a museum and memorial dedicated to 73 Jewish children who found refuge in Nonantola, Italy, during WWII.
The new museum/memorial is aimed to present the history of a group of Jewish children and teens who were rescued by the Delasem (Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Emigrants) from Germany, Austria, and Croatia in 1940 with a view to moving them to Palestine, after their families were killed by the Nazis or deported into concentration camps.
After the group, during the journey, got stuck in Slovenia because of the German invasion of the country, the children and their guides fortuitously moved to the village of Nonantola, northern Italy, and found refuge in Villa Emma, a large semi-abandoned country house belonging to an Italian Jewish businessman, where they stayed for 18 months and fraternized with the local population, mostly consisting of anti-fascist people.
In 1943, when Italy was invaded by the German troops, the situation suddenly became dangerous and the children were hidden by the locals, led by Dr. Giuseppe Moreali and Father Arrigo Beccari (who were later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations), in houses and hideouts in the village and its outskirts in order to save them from the SS who were aware of their presence; afterwards, disguised as Italian schoolchildren, the group moved to Switzerland and, from here, to Palestine.
Except for one boy, Salomon Papo, who got sick and was captured by the SS in the hospital and deported to Auschwitz, all children safely reached Palestine where many of them still live today.
The architectural design competition
The competition brief asked the participants to design not just a museum, but a “place for memory”, a multifunctional center which, taking the cue from the Villa Emma children exemplary history, can celebrate, foster and promote the ideal and practice of tolerance, acceptance, and solidarity among apparently different people.
With a net floor area of 700 sqm / 7.600 sqft, the new building will contain a 350-square-meter permanent exhibition gallery, workshops, meeting rooms, a documentation center, and the Villa Emma Foundation offices, together with a 1200-square-meter park.
After a 6-month long procedure, which selected three designs for the final evaluation stage, the Jury selected the proposal by Italian architectural firm Bianchini & Lusiardi Associati -Riccardo Bianchini and Federica Lusiardi – as the winner, with Japan’s Satoshi Okada Architects as runner-up.
Davanti a Villa Emma – Jewish children memorial and museum – architectural design competition – Pictures
Bianchini & Lusiardi Associati – 1st prize (https://www.bianchinielusiardi.com/)
Images courtesy of Bianchini & Lusiardi Associati
Land / Satoshi Okada Architects – 2nd prize
Images courtesy of Satoshi Okada Architects
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