Section 4: Figures and frameworks


Authored by: Mia Fuller

The Routledge Companion to Italian Fascist Architecture

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367348519
eBook ISBN: 9780429328435
Adobe ISBN:


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The names of a small handful of Italy’s fascist-era architect-planners dominate our historiography today. Among the most prominent is Gustavo Giovannoni (1873–1947), who shaped the foundations of Italian architectural thought from shortly before World War I – when the very profession of city planning (urbanistica) was only beginning to emerge – through the fascist ventennio (1922–43), when Italy’s first university departments of architecture were beginning to multiply and his influence spread through student mentorship at the University of Rome. To him, we owe the seminal ideas of both ambientismo and diradamento that still color discussions of urban preservation today. 1 He is also known to us indirectly through the vast production of his student Luigi Piccinato (1899–1983), a planner-architect most renowned for his postwar city plans, although his early career under fascism was already illustrious. 2 A third figure at the center of the fascist era’s architectural reshaping of the Italian Peninsula is Marcello Piacentini (1881–1960), who is most often thought of as Mussolini’s architect even though in contrast to Hitler’s Third Reich, where Albert Speer held the official role of regime designer, Fascist Italy honored no such figure. Piacentini’s works experimented across the spectrum of design approaches of his day (described later on), yet he remains principally known for the 1930s stile littorio (“lictor style”) that stands out as most intuitively emblematic of fascist-era design: monumental, classical in favor, yet sparse in ornamentation. Dwarfingly massive and often clad in marble, 3 these works are exemplified by Piacentini’s Città universitaria (1932–35) in Rome and his Palazzo di Giustizia (1932–40) in Milan. 4

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