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Slide item 1

Former ONB building in rationalist style: functionality rather than monumentality.

Photo: Gianni Porcellini

Slide item 2

The sports and cultural centre was a means to indoctrinate the Fascist youth.

Historical photo: Cesare Valle Archive

Slide item 4

The large glass window of the central hall looks on Mussolini’s summer residence.

Historical photo: Cesare Valle Archive

Slide item 5

Central hall decorated with elements referring to the discoveries of great Italian sailors.

Historical photo: Cesare Valle Archive

Former ONB / GIL building

An ONB building for Mussolini’s hometown

The ONB building of Predappio is a unique example of rationalism, characterised by a plain and functional design. One of the few propagandist elements was the letter “M” for Mussolini above the main entrance.

“Courage, virility and battle”

The ONB (later GIL) buildings aimed at controlling the leisure time of young people. These sports and cultural centres constituted a dense network which aimed at ideological indoctrination: a school of “courage, virility and battle”.

Unique example of rationalism

In 1936, during the completion of the monumental Casa del Fascio, Cesare Valle was entrusted with the design of a Casa del Balilla for Italy’s most visited political pilgrimage site. In contrast to other monumental buildings in Predappio, the ONB building appears “simple and of modest size”, following a “plain composition” with no features recalling Fascist rhetoric: a unique example of rationalist architecture.

Functional architecture

In fact, the ONB buildings were required to be functional rather than monumental. The indoor facilities of the sports and cultural centre in Predappio were arranged around a large central hall used as gymnasium and conference room. This “meeting hall” is higher than other parts of the building, thus constituting the core of the entire complex, around which all activities were organised. The boys’ section included a large reading room, a library and administrative offices, while the girls’ section had a lecture hall for the teaching of home economics as well as a reading room.

Propagandist elements

Some elements however recall the Fascist regime or its leader. A plain letter “M” for Mussolini decorated the main entrance. The large window of the central hall looks towards the Rocca delle Caminate, Mussolini’s summer residence. Finally, Giampieri’s wall paintings, which decorate the hall with celestial maps and elements referring to the discoveries of great Italian sailors, were supposed to transmit the greatness of Italy which found its continuity in the Fascist regime.