Umberto Riva fonds

Umberto Riva fonds

Part of


  • Umberto Riva (archive creator)
  • Umberto Riva (architect)


Umberto Riva fonds

Dates of creation



  • archives

Level of archival description


Extent and Medium

  • 5459 drawings (including reprographic copies)
  • 15 textual documents

Scope and Content

The Umberto Riva fonds documents Riva’s work as an architect, predominantly in Italy, with drawings for over 80 projects from the 1960s to mid-2000s. The fonds mostly contains drawings for Riva’s architectural projects including private residences, residential buildings, industrial buildings, and public and commercial spaces. Also documented are Riva’s furniture designs for private clients and furniture design companies. His work for exhibition installation designs, chiefly in Italy, but also in Canada and Vienna, is also documented in the fonds.

The material in this fonds consists mainly of drawings, predominantly original drawings by Riva, a few project descriptions, and a small amount of commercial material from suppliers. The types of drawings for built projects are mostly execution drawings, details, some sketches, and some presentation drawings. Projects that were not realized are documented mostly through conceptual and design development drawings.

Reference Number



The fond is arranged in three series: AP180.S1 Architectural projects; AP180.S2 Furniture; and AP180.S3 Exhibitions.

Biographical notes

Umberto Riva was born in Milan, Italy, in 1928. He studied architecture at the Università luav di Venezia and received his degree in 1959. He established his architectural practice in Milan in 1960 where he lived and worked. Riva's work has been predominantly in Italy, with the exception of a few architectural projects and exhibitions in the United States, Canada, Austria, and Algeria.

From the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, Riva worked mainly on commissions for private residences, vacation houses, and residential buildings. His most well known projects from this period are the Cooperativa di abitazione in via Paravia in Milan (1966), Casa Di Palma in Stintino (1971), and Casa Frea in Milan (1983).

After the mid-1980s, Riva took on more urban design projects, such as the Sperone del Guasco in Ancona (1987) and the Piazza San Nazaro in Milan (1989). Since he was an architectural student, Riva had been interested in furniture designs, especially lamps. He often integrated his furnishing and furniture designs into his architectural projects for private houses, apartments, and commercial spaces.

In the 1990s and the early 2000s, Riva undertook projects of exhibition spaces and exhibition designs, including for the Milan Triennale, the Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, in Vicenza, and an installation design for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal. In 2014, he contributed to the exhibition “Rooms you may have missed: Bijoy Jain, Umberto Riva” at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which displayed some of his work.

Umberto Riva died in Palermo, Italy, in 2021.

Conditions governing access

  • Access by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction

  • For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the fonds, please contact the CCA (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Gift of Umberto Riva in 2016.

Custodial history

The material in this fonds remained in Riva's custody until transferred to the CCA in 2014, for the exhibition “Rooms you may have missed: Bijoy Jain, Umberto Riva” (2014), followed by an addition to the fonds, which was transferred in 2016.

Archivist's note

  • The finding aid for this fonds was completed in January 2019 by Catherine Jacob. Most of the drawings in this fonds were rolled when received. To facilitate consultation of the material, rolls containing original drawings were flatened during processing. The rolls consisting only of reprographic copies were kept rolled.

Credit line

When citing the collection as a whole, use the following citation:
Umberto Riva fonds
Collection Centre Canadien d'Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal;
Don de / Gift of Umberto Riva
When citing specific collection material, please refer to the object’s specific credit line.

Language of material



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