First, an apology for the lateness of this post. I traveled to Los Angeles yesterday and what with one thing and another, just couldn’t get it done on time.
However, I am now sitting in my daughter’s quiet, air conditioned house, ready to write.
As many of you know, I am very interested in trying to understand the cultural underpinnings of Fascism and Nazism. Why did they arise in that particularly time (early/middle 20th Century) and why in two countries with such an illustrious cultural history?
It all seems a massive contradiction in terms: Michelangelo and Mussolini, Goethe and Hitler. And yet, there it is.
One of the more interesting contradictions and interfaces is the connection between architecture and fascism. Mussolini, even more than Hitler, wanted to create architecture that would restructure Italian society. There are two interesting examples of these efforts: EUR, a suburb of Rome and Sabaudia, a beach-side community, also near Rome.
Here’s some examples of the architecture of EUR
The concept behind these buildings is to insert order and control and grandeur (hallmarks of Italian Fascism) into every aspect of Italian life, including architecture. These buildings are not warm, friendly, or inviting — which is so characteristic of Rome. They are stark and designed to diminish the individual, literally and figuratively.
Here are some photos of Sabaudia.
Sabaudia, too, is a planned town, built from scratch in just over a year in 1933. It was intended to be as part of an Italian “New Deal” to provide employment for jobless veterans by moving them to farmsteads. The new town offered an alternative to old and unhygienic cities—somewhere to reconnect with traditional values and the soil. It is now a sea-side community of artists, writers, and commuters from Rome.
In it’s own way, it also conveys the super grandiose style designed to remind Italian’s of their “heroic” heritage.
I am reminded not of Italy’s heroic heritage, but how complicated it is when one group makes plans for another. It is so easy to fall into the trap of making decisions “for” people; rather than “with” people.
So, beware the planners . . .