Unesco welcomed Crespi d’Adda in the List of Protected World Heritage in 1995 as an “outstanding example of the phenomenon of workers’ villages, the most complete and best preserved in Southern Europe”.
Crespi is the name of the family of Lombard cotton industrialists who, at the end of the nineteenth century, built a modern ideal working village next to their own textile factory, along the Bergamo side of the river Adda. The village was built starting in 1878, near the Adda river, by Cristoforo Benigno Crespi and then carried on by his son, Silvio Crespi.
The ambitious project of Crespi envisaged joining the establishments with a real village that would house some factory workers and their families. The newborn settlement was equipped with every necessary structure: in addition to the houses of the working-class families complete with garden and vegetable garden and to the villas for the managers, the village had a church, school, cemetery, hospital, sports field, theater, fire station and of other community structures.
The Crespi d’Adda village is a real complete town built from scratch by the owner of the factory for its employees and their families. In this perfect little world the master reigned from his castle and provided as a father for all the needs of the employees: inside and outside the factory and from the cradle to the grave, anticipating the protection of the state itself. Only those who worked in the factory could live in the village, and the lives of all individuals and of the entire community revolved around the factory itself, its rhythms and its needs.
The Village of Crespi d’Adda is certainly the most important testimony in Italy of the phenomenon of workers’ villages: it constituted one of the most complete and original realizations in the world and has been preserved perfectly intact, keeping its urban and architectural aspect almost intact.
Crespi d’Adda is an authentic model of an ideal city. A very interesting, almost perfect, self-sufficient microcosm where the lives of employees, together with those of their families and the entire community, revolved around the factory in an ideal level of order and harmony. A city-garden on a human scale, on the border between the rural world and the industrial world.
Crespi d’Adda has constituted a pole of industrial, residential and social progress, whose solutions still represent a precious reference model.