Essential Architecture-  Search by style

Rationalist-Fascist Architecture (Italian Fascist)

Neoclassical architecture    
Bolzano, Italy, Courthouse in Piazza del Tribunale Casa del Fascio (Como) Via della Conciliazione
Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, EUR Esposizione Universale Roma Vittoriale degli italiani
Rationalist-Fascist architecture was an Italian architectural style of the late 1920's promoted and practiced initially by the Gruppo 7 group, whose architects included Luigi Figini, Guido Frette, Sebastiano Larco, Gino Pollini, Carlo Enrico Rava, Giuseppe Terragni, Ubaldo Castagnola and Adalberto Libera. Two branches have been identified, a modernist branch with Giuseppe Terragni being the most prominent exponent, and a conservative branch of which Marcello Piacentini and the La Burbera group were most influential.

Casa del Fascio

The Casa del Fascio, located in Como, northern Italy, is perhaps the most famous work of the Italian Rationalist architect, Giuseppe Terragni. Started in 1932 and completed in 1936 under the regime of Benito Mussolini, this municipal administration building was originally constructed with a primary view of functioning as an elegant "set piece" for mass Fascist rallies. Conceptualized as a classical palazzo centred on a glass atrium, it was frescoed with abstract paintings (since destroyed) by the artist Mario Radice and the original project boasted an innovative changing facade illumination. It is cited as a regional manifestation of the International Style of architecture.


Via della Conciliazione

Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, who had signed the accord on behalf of the King, resurrected the idea of a grand thoroughfare symbolically connecting the Vatican to the heart of the Italian capital. To fulfil this vision, Mussolini turned to the prominent Fascist architects Marcello Piacentini and Attilio Spaccarelli. Drawing inspiration from a number of the designs submitted by Carlo Fontana, Piacentini came up with a plan that would preserve the best aspects of both the "open" and "closed" designs – a grand boulevard that would nonetheless obscure the majority of the Vatican buildings per Bernini's intentions. The vast colonnaded street would require the clearance of the whole "spina" of Borgo placed in between the Basilica and the Castle. Since the facades of the buildings lining this space did not align perfectly, in order to create the illusion of a perfectly straight causeway traffic islands would be erected along both sides, with rows of obelisks leading towards the Square, doubling as lampposts. These were also intended to reduce the effect that the funnel-shaped design would have on perspective when facing the Basilica. The wings of those buildings closest to the square would be preserved to form a propylaea, blocking the greater portion of the Vatican City from approaching visitors and framing the Square and Basilica at the head of a grand open space that would allow for easy vehicular access.[12][13]

Demolition of the spina of Borgo began with Mussolini's symbolic strike of the first building with a pickaxe on October 29, 1936, and continued for twelve months. Even at the time, the demolition proved controversial, with many Borgo residents displaced en masse to settlements ("borgate") outside of the city.[14] Among the buildings dismantled, either totally or in part, and rebuilt in another position, were the Palazzo dei Convertendi, the house of Giacomo and Bartolomeo da Brescia, the Church of the Nunziatina, the palaces Rusticucci-Accoramboni, Cesi and degli Alicorni. Other buildings, like the palace of the Governatore del Borgo and the Church of S. Giacomo a Scossacavalli, were destroyed. Facing into the cleared area were five other historical buildings, the Palazzo Giraud-Torlonia, the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, the Palazzo dei Penitenzieri, Palazzo Serristori, and Palazzo Cesi.[15]

However, the construction of the road was only a small feature in the reconstruction of Rome ordered by Mussolini, which ranged from the restoration of the Castel Sant'Angelo, the clearance of the Mausoleum of Augustus, to the vastly more complicated site of the Via dell'Impero through Rome's ancient imperial remains. His plan was to transform Rome into a monument to Italian fascism. [16]

"In five years, Rome must appear marvellous to all the peoples of the world; vast, orderly, powerful, as it was in the time of the first empire of Augustus." - Benito Mussolini


The Danteum is an unbuilt monument to Dante Alighieri designed by the modernist architect Giuseppe Terragni at the behest of Benito Mussolini's Fascist government.

The structure was meant to be built in Rome on the Via dell'Impero. The intention was to celebrate the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri, whose Divine Comedy glorifies Imperial Rome and extols the virtues of a strong secular government. Though it was not constructed, the design was presented at the 1942 Exhibition in Rome.

Compositionally, the Danteum is conceived as an allegory of the Divine Comedy. It consists of a sequence of monumental spaces that parallel the narrator's journey from the "dark wood" through hell, purgatory, and paradise. Rather than attempting to illustrate the narrative, however, Terragni focuses on the text's form and rhyme structure, translating them into the language of carefully proportioned spaces and unadorned surfaces typical of Italian Rationalism.

Since the form of the Divine Comedy was itself influenced by the architectural structure of Byzantine churches, the Danteum is in a sense a translation of a translation. Because of the complex of literary, artistic, and architectural meaning associated with the design, the theorist Aarati Kanekar regards it as examplary of how a spatial structure can express a sophisticated poetic meaning without an explicit "vocabulary" of architectural symbols.

Palazzo dei Congressi in the EUR quarter.


The Esposizione Universale Roma (EUR, originally called E42) is a large complex, now a suburban area and business centre, in Rome, Italy. It was started in 1935 by Benito Mussolini and planned to open in 1942 to celebrate twenty years of Fascism. In urban planning terms, E42 was designed to direct the expansion of the city towards the south-west, connecting it to the sea. The planned exhibition never took place due to World War II.

After a period of controversy over its architectural and urban planning principles, the project to design EUR was commissioned from the leaders of both of the rival factions in Italian architecture: Marcello Piacentini for the "reactionaries" and Giuseppe Pagano for the "progressives". Each of them brought in their own preferred architects to design individual buildings within the complex. EUR offers a large-scale image of how urban Italy might have looked, if the Fascist regime had not fallen; wide axially planned streets and austere buildings of either stile Littorio, inspired by ancient Roman architecture, or Rationalism, modern architecture but built using traditional limestone, tuff and marble.

Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana.

Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana.

The most representative building of the "Fascist" style at EUR is Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (1938-1943), an iconic project which has since become known as the "Colosseo Quadrato" (Square Colosseum).

After the war, the Roman authorities found that at EUR they already had the beginnings of an out-of-town business district that other capitals did not begin planning until decades later (London Docklands and La Defense in Paris).

During the 1950s and 1960s the unfinished Fascist-era buildings were completed, and other new buildings were constructed in not dissimilar styles for use as offices and government ministries, set in large gardens and parks. Many Italians consider EUR sterile and lacking in character, but many expatriates from North America choose to live there[citation needed] because it is conveniently close to the old city but with newer buildings and infrastructure, is close to the main international airport, and is easily accessible by car. It is also served by Line B of the Rome Metro and Roma-Lido.

Other attractions at EUR include the Museum of Roman Civilization , the Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography and the sports arena PalaEUR (now PalaLottomatica), designed by Pier Luigi Nervi and Marcello Piacentini for the 1960 Summer Olympics.

The EUR was also used as the headquarters of Mayflower Industries in the 1991 movie Hudson Hawk and served as a backdrop for scenes from the 1999 film adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus.

EUR is also sadly famous for its crime and for public brawls between local neo-Fascist and Communist groups, and local gangs.

The area beside Palazzo dello Sport has security cameras to deter prostitution and vandalism. Graffiti has recently become a problem.

Vittoriale degli italiani

The Vittoriale degli italiani (The shrine of Italian victories in English) is a hillside estate in the town of Gardone Riviera overlooking the Garda lake in Lombardy, Italy. It is where the Italian writer Gabriele d'Annunzio lived from 1922 until his death in 1938. The estate consists of the residence of d'Annunzio called the Prioria (priory), an amphitheatre, the light cruiser Puglia set into a hillside, a boathouse containing the MAS vessel used by D'Annunzio in 1918 and a circular mausoleum. Its grounds are now part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani.

References to the Vittoriale range from a “monumental citadel” to a “fascist lunapark”[1], the site inevitably inheriting the controversy surrounding its creator.