manifesto web Daniele Calabi2.jpg
11° Edition 23/24 /

Daniele Calabi in Padua. The architect and the city after World War II

Exhibition: Daniele Calabi in Padua • The Architect and the City in the Second Postwar

curated by Elena Svalduz and Stefano Zaggia

Exhibition - Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, Via Monte di Pietà 8, Padua

May 19 - July 21, 2024

hours 10 - 19 - Monday closed

free admission


The widespread exhibition: Daniele Calabi in Padua

Tables - The wall textures

8 February Street - Listòn, between the town hall and Palazzo Bo, Padua

May 17 - June 30, 2024


Tapestries - The masonry jellies

Via Gabelli - Corte Ca' Lando, Padua

May 17 - June 30, 2024

hours 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 3-6 p.m., Sunday closed

free admission

Palazzo del Monte di Pietà in Padua, from May 19 to July 21, 2024, will host the exhibition "Daniele Calabi in Padua • The Architect and the City in the Second Postwar" curated by Elena Svalduz and Stefano Zaggia. 

The exhibition, organized by the Barbara Cappochin Foundation on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the International Architecture Biennial with the University of Padua, specifically with the departments of Cultural Heritage (Dbc) and Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (Icea), was made possible thanks to the contribution of the Cariparo Foundation.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the death of architect Daniele Calabi, a Jew fleeing racial laws, an exhibition is proposed to the public with free admission, which, starting from the centrality of the figure of the engineer-architect, investigates the architectural and urban context of Padua after World War II. 

"When setting up the invitations for this opening, the graphic designers asked me what to indicate next to my name-Recounts Donatella Calabi-I wondered whether to propose an academic title, or whether I should more simply not have said daughter of Daniele Calabi, but also noble mother of the curators. That this is a very important exhibition for me from an emotional point of view, before even as a historian, is easily understandable. But I would also like to point out that a large group of people worked on the preparation of this event: from a photographer to the exhibition designers, from a professor with his students to a young expert in multimedia devices, from the two curators and a scholarship holder (three of my students) and...even my beloved grandson, a promising future "director." Don't think it is rhetorical to say that in the first case -as a daughter-, in the second as a 'mother-teacher' of so many young people, I felt this initiative as an important occasion of memory transmission: to a better knowledge of Daniele Calabi's difficult life experiences, of his ways of doing architecture, of what referring to "building" he called "the pleasure of honesty," of his activity as a lecturer in the classroom and on the building site, which I myself followed before his passing."

"The initial idea of the exhibition was to highlight the close relationship between Daniele Calabi (1906-1964) and Padua, while proposing a broader reflection on the relationship that a designer has with a specific city," are the words of curators Elena Svalduz and Stefano Zaggia. The exhibition has been conceived as a gateway to Calabi's works in the city: in fact, visiting itineraries will be proposed to get to know and appreciate a widespread heritage characterized by a precise identity, from the Pediatric Clinic to the apartment buildings, the Alicorno houses and those for professors, all built in the 1950s. It was in the university city that the young architect began his promising career, designing important works in the 1930s for the University of Padua (such as the Asiago Astrophysical Observatory). A season abruptly interrupted by the racial laws of 1938, to be followed by an exile in Brazil. It is the relationships woven, the work opportunities, but also the predilection for the peculiar historical urban landscape, that set the stage for his return after World War II. The itinerary in the exhibition starts precisely from here: from the particularly intense season of Calabi's activity, which took place between 1950 and 1960 in a city undergoing great transformations. The exhibition is not only about buildings: specific attention is given to the human story of the promising young architect who was forced to abandon the construction sites for which he was responsible as a result of the enforcement of racial laws. 

2310_AC_2402 sotto-2.jpg

"We felt it was important to highlight this aspect," the curators conclude, "also brought to university classrooms in our courses on the history of architecture: in the exhibition the inscription "Jew erased" is a strong reminder not to forget what happened. After his exile in Brazil, Calabi returned "sick with nostalgia for Italy" (these are Carlo Anti's words), with a modern, international background: he will bring, we can say, Brazilian experiences to Padua. And in fact Padua, welcomes the novelties imported from Brazil, becoming the city with the highest density of architecture created by Calabi. Yet, these are works that are not always well known: those who leaf through the publication accompanying the exhibition these days recognize their locations with difficulty. This is why the exhibition proposes a reading of the architecture built and still present in the city not only through technical drawings, executives, and sketches, but also through the photographs of Alessandra Chemollo, who created an ad hoc photographic campaign. For us, this exhibition was an opportunity to do research: we worked intensively in the archives, particularly in the historical archives of the University of Padua, where we verified already known sources and brought to light new documentation. This research path has been intertwined with our teaching activities where we have been working alongside students for the past two years with workshop activities in architectural history and architectural composition. Making the outcomes of this path between teaching and research known to the public, raising awareness of issues beyond architecture, is ultimately the goal we aim to achieve."

"Calabi was a protagonist of modern architecture after World War II, as is also attested by the numerous national and international awards he received," says Cariparo Foundation President Gilberto Muraro, "He contributed to the urban transformation of Padua in years crucial to its development, redefining its identity. We are therefore particularly pleased that his human and professional story is remembered and celebrated in an exhibition, hosted in the Padua headquarters of our Foundation, which is also a supporter of this exhibition. In thanking the University of Padua and the Barbara Cappochin Foundation for putting it together, my wish is that many will choose to flock to the rooms of Palazzo del Monte di Pietà." 

In addition to the exhibition, the city will be the stage for two additional locations for a widespread exhibition that truly puts architecture and people in dialogue, a goal that has always driven the events of the Cappochin Foundation. 

"As is our custom," explains Giuseppe Cappochin, president of the International Architecture Foundation dedicated to the memory of his daughter Barbara, "the exhibition will be joined by a series of initiatives scattered throughout the city. Starting with the Stone Tables that we will find on the Liston of Padua, which will be joined by others, between City Hall and Palazzo del Bo, built ad hoc for Daniele Calabi's exhibition."

Tables, also imaginable as some wall fragments capable of embodying the "Calabian" textures: thus the design group, coordinated by Prof. Edoardo Narne of the Icea Department, has elaborated fragments of six emblematic Paduan works capable, in the postwar period, of producing an effective gap in the architectural production of the territory. 

And then, in the desire to disseminate the exhibition itself in the vicinity of some of its emblematic works, an exhibition idea was sought that would provide for the telling of multiple stories within Padua's Corte Ca' Lando through other installation devices.

Edificio ad appartamenti in via Vescovado a Padova_©Alessandra Chemollo copia.jpg

First of all, that extraordinary spatial experience of his own house made in São Paulo during the difficult and suffered exodus to Brazilian soil: a special dwelling, to be reinterpreted together with the students of the Course in Building Engineering-Architecture of Padua in its characters so well defined and realized with some licenses and inevitable dimensional reinterpretations.  

Also in the design intentions is the desire to offer the visitor a break from the outside to the inside of Ca' Lando, passing through a filter environment. Entering the center of the small church, the visitor discovers that wrapping a system of wooden seats are four large "tapestries" made of interwoven bricks, devices once again capable of narrating Calabi's experimentation, aimed at enhancing liminary places between inside and outside in his works: these are jellies and vestments recovered from the local building tradition and skillfully reinterpreted, also treasuring the lessons learned in his travels in Northern Europe, in the presence of Scandinavian masters.

The university represented for Calabi a privileged city, both from an affective and a compositional point of view: it was the theater of his architectures from the stage of his training and was the "springboard" for his professional affirmation. His relations with the University of Padua and the protagonists of its history between the 1930s and 1940s-as evidenced by the memorial celebration of the inauguration of the Asiago Astrophysical Observatory in 1942 in the absence of its designer himself, but also his predilection for the peculiar historical urban landscape-constituted the premises for his return in 1950. This intimate relationship between Padua and Calabi was only partially investigated in the 1992 Padua exhibition that was mounted in Galleria Cavour, an occasion that highlighted its biographical setting. 

It was deemed appropriate, therefore, to propose a new exhibition project that, while starting from that critical arrangement, now addresses a historical conjuncture of particular interest as that of the connection of Calabi's works with the context of a city that in the post-World War II period (between the years 1950 -1960) experienced a phase of intense transformation. 

That of Padua stands out as a case study of great interest although hitherto little addressed. These are themes on which it is planned, moreover, to develop a series of collateral initiatives intended to propose a reflection precisely on the relationship between architecture and urban context in contemporary cities.  

To this end, the exhibition will be divided into sections, in which an initial one will be oriented toward investigating the characters of the idea of modernization adopted in the period, which informed all strategies of economic and social renewal and development of the city. A second section will be devoted to recounting the early stages of the architect's training, his relationship with the University's technical office during the IV consortium, up to his exclusion as a result of the racial laws and his experience of exile in Brazil. Specific attention will thus be paid to the human story of the promising young architect forced to abandon the construction sites for which he was responsible.  When in the immediate postwar period he returned "sick with nostalgia for Italy" (these are Carlo Anti's words), the context will have changed, ready, however, to welcome his new architecture, particularly suited to modernize the city.

The exhibition will feature original pieces (technical drawings, executives, sketches, photographs) alternating with panels with reproductions or elaborations of historical materials supporting or useful for contextualization. In this context, a reading of the architecture built and still present in the city will be proposed through the photographs of Alessandra Chemollo displayed in the exhibition.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a scientific publication that will offer a significant update to the studies.

2308_AC_2402 sopra-2.jpg


Lecture Series

In close synergy with educational activities (particularly with the Dbc and Icea Departments), a cycle of conferences and seminars is planned to be held at the University of Padua with the involvement of the Order of Architects Planners, Landscape Architects and Conservators of the Province of Padua.

Calabian Itineraries

"Calabian Itineraries in Padua": a workshop activity with students from the Cultural Heritage degree programs.


Temporary architectural devices

The relationship between architecture and the city can be emphasized by identifying Calabi's most representative places and works in Padua. A number of temporary Architectural Devices located in points of the urban context considered strategic will then complete the exhibition.
In their realization, these will see a direct involvement of students from the Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering Architecture (Icea Department), who will propose a reinterpretation of the architectural features of the architect's works. This will also be a way to rethink the effort made by Calabi with some young architects during the 1950s (according to Paolo Ceccarelli's testimony), when within the framework of APAM (Paduan Association for Modern Architecture) he organized educational exhibitions aimed at citizens with an objective of popularization and education on modern architecture.


The publication

Edited by Elena Svalduz and Stefano Zaggia, the publication, Lettera Ventidue editions, that accompanies the exhibition offers a significant update to studies on the architecture of Daniele Calabi: based on the results of the research conducted on the occasion of the exhibition and the photographic campaign launched ad hoc, it offers a rereading of the works in the context of a city undergoing modernization. Starting with the architecture created in the "new" Padua after World War II, particularly between the years 1950 - 1960, the volume recounts Calabi's works and life, without forgetting the experience of his exile to Brazil following the application of racial laws. A dramatic "fracture," only partially recomposed in a vital design and cultural environment. The city of Padua welcomed the novelties imported from Brazil, until it became the "calling card" of the architect, "among the best working in Italy" (Sergio Bettini, 1957).


Organizing Committee: 

Donatella Calabi, Giuseppe and Davide Cappochin, Martina Massaro, Edoardo Narne, Elena Svalduz and Stefano Zaggia.



Alessandra Chemollo.


Lenders or preserving archives: 

- Archivio Daniele Calabi, Venezia 

- Archivio del ‘900 – MART, Rovereto 

- Archivio Generale del Comune di Padova  

- Archivio Generale dell’Università degli studi di Padova

- Archivio Ordine Architetti PPC Provincia di Venezia

- Archivio Progetti, Università Iuav di Venezia 

- Archivio storico della Soprintendenza ABAP (Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio) per l’area metropolitana di Venezia e le Province di Belluno, Padova e Treviso

- Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione dell’Università di Parma  

2312_AC_2402 centro-2.jpg
Fondazione Cappochin
trending news right now

Daniele Calabi in Padua. The architect and the city after World War II

11° Edition 23/24

International Prize Winner, Miguel Marcelino

11° Edition 23/24

Regional Prize Winner, Scattola Simeoni Architetti

11° Edition 23/24

Honorable Mention International Prize, RIPOLL·TIZON estudio de arquitectura

11° Edition 23/24

related articles

Biennial exhibition in Tokyo, 2019

9° Edition 2019

Exhibition of the Biennial in Tokyo, 2015

7° Edition 2015

Pezzo per Pezzo Renzo Piano Building Workshop

6° Edition 2013

Superurbano. Sustainable urban regeneration., Michele De Lucchi

5° Edition 2011

Zaha Hadid Exhibition

4° Edition 2009

Kengo Kuma Exhibition: Two Carps: Water/Land – Village/Urban – phenomenology

3° Edition 2007

Ideas and reality, David Chipperfield exhibition

2° Edition 2005

Light and gravity. Architecture 1993-2003, Mario Botta

1° Edition 2003
#Follow us on instagram