Davanti a Villa Emma Jewish Children Memorial – Nonantola, Italy

A memorial for 73 Jewish children saved in Nonantola, 1942-1943

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Davanti a Villa Emma. A memorial for 73 Jewish children saved in Nonantola, 1942-1943
International architectural competition. First Prize.
Client: Fondazione Villa Emma, Nonantola
Dates: 2018 / Ongoing
Address: Nonantola (Modena), via Mavora 39
Architect and team leader: Bianchini & Lusiardi Associati
Team: Ing. Emanuele Fornalè (Structural design), Ing. Alessandro Farina (HVAC)
Status: under construction, completion scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2024

A museum and memorial dedicated to 73 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, and Slovenia who took refuge in Villa Emma, a country house in the town of Nonantola in northern Italy, from 1942 to 1943 and, with the help of the local population, were able to escape Nazi persecution and eventually safely reach Switzerland and then Palestine.


The building
Our winning design envisaged the creation of a “non-building”, namely a space whose blurred boundaries establish a continuous relationship with the surroundings and do not rigidly define an “inside” and an “outside”. Covered by a roof that symbolizes the sukkah temporary hut, this 800-sqm/8,600-sqft NZEB building is mostly made of wood – Cross-Laminated Timber for the walls and Glulam wood for the roof structure.
The building plan is characterized by a regular grid that has been deformed following the directions towards the places – both remote and nearby – which marked the history and life of the Jewish children saved here.
Together with the building, we also designed the museum’s permanent exhibition and the garden.


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Bianchini & Lusiardi Associati