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Posts from the ‘Italy’ Category

Modernism, modernisation and the rural landscape

Call for papers,
10-13 JUNE 2018 (Tartu, Estonia)

Simon Bell, Estonian University of Life Sciences,
Axel Fisher, Université Libre de Bruxelles,
Vittoria Capresi, Technische Universität Berlin,

The impact of the Modern Movement and modernisation processes on rural landscapes in Europe and beyond is a widespread but little known, recognised or understood phenomenon which still exerts effects today. Within the third joint research programme of HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) dedicated to “The uses of the past” which started in 2016, this subject is now being studied through several lenses within the MODSCAPES project.

Read more > MODSCAPES_conference2018


Abstracts should be submitted by January 7 2018 (23:59@EET) to the conference management system (via submission Platform

Abstracts will be double peer reviewed and decisions on acceptance, rejection or revision will be sent out by February 9 2018.

Revised abstracts should be submitted by February 19 2018

Full paper text should be submitted by March 31 2018

Papers will be double peer reviewed and decisions on acceptance or revision will be sent out by April 30 2018

Final papers should be submitted by May 14 2018


Padise Kindergarten (Estonia). Architect: Anastasja Varus, 1970ies-80ies. Source: Museum of Estonian Architecture, Eesti Arhitektuurimuuseum (EAM Fk 7801)


Townscapes in transition. Transformation and reorganization of Italian cities and their architecture in the interwar period

Call for papers,
Amercian Association for Italian Studies
AAIS – Annual Conference / Session 24

Luigi Monzo, University of Innsbruck,

Social change after WWI led to an accelerated change in the built environment. Within a broad stylistic scope of architectural and urban design projects, the structural ‘DNA‘ of Italian historic cities offered a basic planning guideline. Historic paradigms determined not only trends in conservation but guided new approaches to architecture as well as urban and landscape design. The result was not a single strategy to ensure continuity in urban planning and architecture, but a multiplicity of formal principles and trends. The session proposes to clarify what methods Italian architects and urban planners used to take possession of a ‘Roman’ or ‘Italian’ building and planning tradition, and how they accommodated it to the modernization of their country.

Please submit via email a 200-250-word abstract of the presentation, a brief biographical note and affiliation to Luigi Monzo ( by December 30, 2017. Please comply with conference guidelines:

The conference languages are Italian and English.
Session organizers and chairs:

Luigi Monzo, University of Innsbruck (Austria)

Carmen M. Enss, University of Bamberg (Germany)

Download call for papers: AAIS_2018_Panel-24_CFP_v2.0_web


Mario Paniconi: landscape plan for Fiuggi. Source: Architettura 1933, p. 327

Beauty and Crime – Asmara (Eritrea) in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Harald Bodenschatz, Technische Universität Berlin,
Piero Sassi, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar,


By drawing, children and youngsters deal with the Italian built heritage in Asmara. The exhibition “Asmara. Afrikas heimliche Hauptstadt der Moderne” (Munich 2012) presented the impressive drafts. Photograph: Harald Bodenschatz.

Last week the city of Asmara, Eritrea, was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A great news. From now on the city and its architectural and urbanism legacy will be better preserved for the coming generations. An increasing attention will be drawn to the city and its built heritage. But what is the message behind Asmara’s new UNESCO designation?

UNESCO’s explanatory statement is: “[Asmara] is an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in an African context.” Such a motivation is insufficient and shows meaningful deficits both in the argumentation concerning the urbanism product and in the explication of the production conditions under which the World Heritage was built.

Asmara is presented as an example of „early modernist urbanism“. Indeed, a part of its architectural legacy can be considered as belonging to the rationalism, but not its urban design. Asmara distinguishes itself through its combination of (frequent) modern architecture and traditional urban design. This combination can also explain – to a certain extent – Asmara’s attractiveness nowadays.

UNESCO’s summary doesn’t consider the reasons and actors. The description mentions the “Italian colonial power”, but neglects racist and segregating ideas behind Asmara’s urban design and architecture. The fact that Asmara was built as a part of the expansion programme of Fascist Italy in Eastern Africa, a deciding aspect, is here completely forgotten. The city was supposed to become a “bridge head” for Abyssinia’s aggression (1935/1936) and part of the Fascist Empire, proclaimed in 1936. In that cruel war, condemned by the League of Nations, fascist troops made also use of poison gas.

In our opinion, UNESCO has not just the responsibility to motivate its designations to World Heritage by looking at the form, but also, in doing so, to enrich the knowledge about the background of its heritage. In the case of Asmara, this is not fulfilled. This aspect becomes even more clear when reading the press commentaries of the last days. By commenting the new UNESCO designation, they were enthusiastic about Asmara’s wonderful architecture, but they completely neglected to mention the war crimes that paved the way to its construction.

Thus, we think it is misleading to aknowledge the value of Asmara’s built heritage without discussing the dictatorial production conditions that made its implementation possible. Therefore, we hope that the UNESCO designation will become a chance to consider the construction of Asmara as a part of the imperial and criminal project of the Italian dictatorship. This would be a significant step towards a critical discussion of this forgotten chapter of 20th Century European history.

UNESCO official description (UNESCO page)
Asmara: a Modernist City of Africa

Located at over 2000 metres above sea level, the capital of Eritrea developed from the 1890’s onwards as a military outpost for the Italian colonial power. After 1935, Asmara underwent a large scale programme of construction applying the Italian rationalist idiom of the time to governmental edifices, residential and commercial buildings, churches, mosques, synagogues, cinemas, hotels, etc. The property encompasses the area of the city that resulted from various phases of planning between 1893 and 1941, as well as the indigenous unplanned neighbourhoods of Arbate Asmera and Abbashawel. It is an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in an African context.

Historical City Centres: Stage and Showcase of Dictatorships

Lecture series
21 April 2017, 14h00 – 19h00
Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon
Main Building, Salão Nobre
Coordination Ana Tostões in collaboration with Bauhaus—Universität Weimar and Technische Universität Berlin

Ana Tostões, Técnico-Universidade de Lisboa,

2017 PhD Week Spring_en

Angiolo Mazzoni. Architekt der italienischen Moderne

Book by Katrin Albrecht, 399 pages, Berlin: Reimer, 2017

Harald Bodenschatz, Technische Universität Berlin,

Wer kennt heute schon Angiolo Mazzoni? Einen der wichtigsten Architekten des faschistischen Italien, eines Landes, das neben der Sowjetunion Stalins am stärksten das eigene Land in der Zwischenkriegszeit durch Architektur und Städtebau verändert hat! Selbst in Italien ist Mazzoni weithin vergessen. Und dies, obwohl oder vielleicht sogar weil sein Werk – vor allem Bahnhofs- und Postgebäude – die wenngleich widersprüchliche Modernisierung Italiens durch die Diktatur widerspiegelt.

Hier zeigt sich die lange baugeschichtliche Vernachlässigung des Themenfelds Infrastruktur, in besonderem Maße bei diktatorischen Regimes, obwohl gerade die Kommunikations-Infrastruktur für das städtebauliche Programm von Diktaturen eine Schlüsselrolle spielte. Doch der Frage nach der Art und Weise der infrastrukturellen Modernisierung in diktatorischen Regimes ist die Fachwelt oft aus dem Wege gegangen. Der Blick auf monumentale Bauten und städtebauliche Projekte hat den Blick auf andere diktatorische Schlüsselprojekte – etwa Häfen, Eisenbahnsysteme, U-Bahnen, Flughäfen – getrübt.

(aus dem Vorwort von Harald Bodenschatz)


Dagli inizi dell’urbanismo teorico alla città moderna. Visioni urbanistiche del totalitarismo – Italia

Article by Pier Giorgio Massaretti, originally appeared in German in: Anthologie zum Städtebau. Das Phänomen Großstadt und die Entstehung der Stadt der Moderne (II.2), edited by Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Katia Frey, and Eliana Perotti. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 2014, 1307-1390.

Pier Giorgio Massaretti, University of Bologna,

La prima edizione di questo testo è apparsa, in tedesco, nel volume II.2.: Anthologie zum Städtebau. Das Phänomen Großstadt und die Entstehung der Stadt der Moderne, a cura di Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Katia Frey, Eliana Perotti, con il sostegno di Departement Architektur der Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule, Zürich (Gebr. Mann Verlag, Berlin 2014, pp. 1307-1390). Previ specifici accordi con l’editore, viene qui presentata la versione originaria, in italiano, dell’intero capitolo: Modernität und Emphase. Städtebau im italienischen Faschismus, e comprendente: i) una capiente saggio introduttivo – in una versione più ampia ed articolata (comprensiva della “Bibliografia sistematica”, di riferimento) del testo in tedesco; ii) la versione in italiano del repertorio antologico di riferimento – e comprensiva di una “Scheda introduttiva”, sull’Autore-Opera, e di una selezione del testo in esame.

Download article > dagli-inizi-dellurbanismo-teorico-alla-citta-moderna

La ri-fondazione della Libia balbiana (1933-1939). Il poderoso racconto fotografico dei “Ventimila”

Article by Pier Giorgio Massaretti, in: Città mediterranee in trasformazione. Identità e immagine del paesaggio urbano tra Sette e Novecento, edited by Alfredo Buccaro, and Cesare de Seta. Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 2014, 1085-1098. Conference proceedings, „VI Convegno Internazionale di Studi. 7. Le trasformazioni del paesaggio nella fotografia e nella cinematografia“, organized by CIRICE (Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca sull’Iconografia della Città Europea). Naples, March 13-15, 2014.

Pier Giorgio Massaretti, University of Bologna,

La prima edizione di questo testo è apparsa negli atti del VI Convegno Internazionale di Studi del CIRICE – Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca sull’Iconografia della Città Europea − Università di Napoli Federico II, (Napoli, 13-15 marzo 2014), dal titolo: Città mediterranee in trasformazione. Identità e immagine del paesaggio urbano tra Sette e Novecento, a cura di A. Buccaro e C. de Seta (Collana: Polis, 6; Napoli: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 2014; pp. 1216; ISBN 9788849528145), all’interno della sessione 7, Le trasformazioni del paesaggio urbano nella fotografia e nella cinematografia, coordinatori: F. Capano, M. Iuliano, pp. 1085-1098. Il Convegno, aperto a studiosi di ambito nazionale e internazionale, si poneva l’obiettivo di fare il punto sulla storiografia riguardante la città mediterranea in età contemporanea, con particolare riferimento alla sua identità, struttura e immagine, dall’inizio dell’industrializzazione all’età post-illuminista e borghese, fino ai temi inerenti l’evoluzione/involuzione del territorio e del paesaggio post-industriale, nonché lo sviluppo del modello turistico tra Otto e Novecento.

Nell’ottobre 1938, all’apice del successo nazionale e della notorietà internazionale che investiva il suo trasversale governatorato in Libia, Italo Balbo diede inizio all’epocale trasmigrazione «di massa» dei coloni rurali nazionali nell’oltremare italiano. E con intelligente capacità manageriale, attivò parallelamente una mirata compagna fotografica destinata a divulgare tale “biblico” passaggio del Mediterraneo da parte di oltre ventimila contadini italiani, così impegnati nella spettacolare «colonizzazione demografica» della Libia. Una puntuale rendicontazione visiva elaborata in oltre duecento scatti in bianco e nero (in parte depositata presso l’oggi irraggiungibile “Archivio Fotografico” dell’Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente, Roma). Un pacchetto fotografico poi opportunamente selezionato per allestire l’edizione straordinaria del numero unico della rivista «Libia», 1939 (a cui farò riferimento), dall’illuminante titolo: I ventimila. Documentario fotografico della prima migrazione in massa di coloni in Libia per il piano di colonizzazione demografica intensiva – Anno XVI/1938.

Se, in ambito nazionale ed internazionale, l’ancora troppo rarefatta bibliografia di settore ha comunque già restituito con precisione le complesse dinamiche di fondazione “materiale” del network di quei villaggi e presidi agricoli libici che ancor’oggi costituiscono un patrimonio testimoniale di grande interesse disciplinare, con questa mia puntuale indagine intendo invece concentrarmi nella microscopica ottimizzazione del modello di ri-fondazione “immateriale” degli stessi territori, ed icasticamente rappresentato da quel raffinato apparato fotografico ed iconografico che venne, con rara cura retorica e spettacolare, appositamente sviluppato.

Download article > la-ri-fondazione-della-libia-balbiana-1933-1939


Il villaggio “Oliveti”. Fonte: I ventimila. Documentario fotografico della prima migrazione in massa di coloni in Libia per il piano di colonizzazione demografica intensiva – Anno XVI/1938, numero monografico della rivista «Libia», del 1939.