Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Out Of The Past: Centro Provinciale dell'Igiene

It's not always the oldest, nor even older, of Venice's infinite array of architectural elements that stop you in your tracks... The old Centro Provinciale dell'Igiene (Provincial Center of Hygiene) actually counts as one of the city's "newest" buildings (relatively speaking): now the site of some administrative offices of the Università IUAV, the old health center was built in the early 1940s, and while there are still a number of public monuments around the city in the Fascist style, the lettering and simplified "populist" figures of this facade made me think of Bolshevik design--though perhaps mistakenly, I'll admit. 

I've lived here for over 8 years and only passed by this building for the first time last week on my way to Piazzale Roma. The lettering alone deserves more attention than I had time to give it--as the image below is just a detail of the image above.

Not to mention the stylized winged lions of San Marco on either side of the entrance (below) which, as far as I've seen, are unique to this one facade. The only vaguely similar frontal, foreshortened views of the lion have been used in the logos of at least a couple of the recent incarnations of Venice's professional calcio teams--but none of them has been so stark as on this facade.


  1. Thank you for this very interesting post. Where is this building in Venezia? In Sant'Elena island? It may look as a Bolshevik design, but also, in a more general way, as some "Art Deco" building in France and probably in USA or elsewhere. It was the modern architecture of that time, formal, functionalist, impressive, even in details, but deshumanised. Venezia was not out of the main stream. Poor San Marco's Lion! Thank you
    Thank you.

    1. It's interesting that you'd suspect it might be on Sant'Elena, that is a very likely place for it, now that you mention it. But it's actually a rather short distance from Piazzale Roma, not far from the church of San Simeon Piccolo in Santa Croce:

      And, yes, the poor St Mark's lion looks more like a gremlin in this version than "the king of the jungle."