Modern Architecture in Rome
The locations of all places are shown on my Google-Earth Map
Contemporary Roman Architecture and Fascism
Google-Maps (increase magnification this map is 3-D)
Italico aka Forum Mussolini
Stadio dei Marmi
The 60 marble athlets, all male, in the Stadio dei Marmi, the Stadion of Mables in the Foro Italico
Few venues had a greater influence on modern public architecture in
Rome as the Foro Italico. Built by
Mussolini and inaugurated in 1938 it was revived for the 1960
Olympics and continued to define the “classical” forms of Roman
sculpture - long beyond the demise of Fascism. Or did Fascist
ideology continue to confound the minds of the Romans? Robert Hughes
in his 2012 “Rome” thinks so – and Cornelius, after living 10
years in the better neighbourhood east of Via Salaria, is convinced
of that too.
The dilemma is not difficult to see: Fascists sculpture attempted to replace classical Roman sculpture - before Bernini's Baroque - with a pseudo-modern, pantheistic forms – and they are not bad, just too muscular and too many.... They reflect the Augustean sense of imperial ostentation, a tendency that had in the interim been moderated by the religious preoccupations of the Papacy.
Since the 1950s it has proven difficult to conceive of an (abstract) modern sculptural prototype, which would prove as acceptable to the esthetic values of the conservative – still very much fascist - public mind. The offical reaction to two buildings by Richard Meier - one of the most classical architects of our times - the enclosure of Ara Pacis and the church Dio Padre Misericordioso in Tor Tre Teste (2006), prove the point.
dei Fori Imperiali
Mussolin's parade route, 1931-33
XVII Rome Marathon on Via Fori Imperiali, March 8, 2011
This road, formerly the "Via dell'Impero", was built
between 1931-1933 by Mussolini. He wanted a road fit for triumphal
marches and parades. He also wanted to create a physical and symbolic
link between the his office in Piazza Venezia and the seat of ancient
Roman power in the forum, all the way to the Colosseum. Some
obstacles lay in the way of the road though – not least the
millennia-old Roman structures, as well as the tenements that housed
746 of Rome's poorest families, when one of the most densely
populated and oldest inhabited areas of Rome was systematically
Constructed by Mussolini 1937
In the center of the city Mussolini cut a new super-corso through the neighborhood beween Castello d'Angelo and St. Peter's Square. Lined with buildings of his time it was to symbolize the Concordat of 1929 between the Vatican and the Italian State. Named Via della Concilliazione, it's ulterior purpose remains obscure.
EUR - “The
“Esposizione Universale di Roma”, 1942
The largest accumulation of Fascist and post-Fascist architecture in Southern Rome
EUR, "La Terza Roma", arose in the early 1940s. It was built in a perfect fascist architectural style, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mussolini's coming to power (he became Prime Minister in1922). Its name means Universal Exhibition of Rome (nothing to do with the Euro!). It was supposed to impress Hitler and Speer and to house an International Exhibition in 1942, but the exhibition never took place because of the war.
Palazzo della Civilta del Lavoro - Colisseo Quadratico
Ernesto La Padua,1938-43
The most vivid and memorable new building, the central motif of EUR.
Obelisco Giuglielmo Marconi
Arturo Dazzi, 1960
Post-War architecture struggling with the Fascist inheritance. A modern obelisk dedicated to the Italian inventor of telecommunication, Giuglielmo Marconi in the central square of EUR, - and a desperate, semi-buried arm, a modern sculpture appropriately called "The Awakening" - by the American(!) artist Seward Johnson (born 1930)
Fontain/Obelisk of the 21st Century -
typically misnamed: Fontana “Novecento"!
Arnaldo Pomodoro, 2004
The latest addition to EUR, 50 years after the end of WW II, finally
broke the Fascist paradigm!
Of course, Pomodoro is “novecento” and an unlikely ideologist....
A Mosque for Rome
Viale della Moschea, 85 (west of Villa Ada)
Paul Portuguese, Vittorio Gigliotti, Sami Mousawi, and Nino Tozzo, 1995
Interior of the new Mosque
I feel tempted to credit the Saudis with breaking the choke hold that
Church, Fascism, and the Roman past excerted on contemporary Roman
architecture. The mosque of Rome was commissioned and funded by King
Faisal of Saudi Arabia. It took more than two decades to complete.
Watching a similar project in New York City, the difficulties can
easily be imagined. The donation of land was approved by the City
Council of Rome in 1974, but the first stone was laid only in 1984.
Inauguration took place another 10 years later, on 21 June 1995
The outside of the building is not impressive, but the inside surpasses contemporary mosques elsewhere.
Viale della Moschea, 85 (situated to the west of Villa Ada), ☎ 06 8082167 - 06 8082258. Wed & Sun from 9:00 to 11:30 excluding Ramadan, Italian holidays and August
New Cultural Center
Before the Roman Olympics in 1960 a new center south and across the river from the Foro Italico in the large Tiber bend in northern Rome was inaugurated. It started with several sport facilities needed for the Olympics: a soccer stadium and more notable a Palazzetto dello Sport by Pier Luigi Nervi and his associates.
After the turn of the millenium some well-established, non-Roman architects were called in – it is not that there are no contemporaty Italian architects, but they don't work in Rome - to create new cultural facilities in this industrial area with no Fascist roots.
Renzo Piano, 2002
The first one was Renzo Piano's Parco Musica: Three large, lead-clad, whale-like auditoriums surrounding a Roman excavation site (sic!). Despite their dull appearance they reportedly offer excellent acoustics for anything from classical music to jazz and variety shows.
MAXXI at its inauguration in 2011
The latest addition to the New Cultural Center is the Museum of 21st-Century Art.
Via Guido Reni 4a (Tram No. 2 and buses 53, 217, 280, and 910. Around 2km northwest of Piazza del Popolo along Via Flaminia, close to the Parco della Musica and Stadio Flaminio.), ☎ 06 39967350 (email@example.com). 11.00-19.00, Tues-Sun.
Formally known as Dio Padre Misericordioso, the church is the
community center of Tor Tre Teste in Rome. It serves eight thousand
residents in Tor Tre Teste and was meant to socially "revive"
The south side of the church features three large curved walls of pre-stressed concrete. Meier, also the creator of the controversial building enclosing the Ara Pacis, designed it as part of a 1995 international architecture competition. The first stone was laid in 1998, and the church was consecrated in 2003.
The river-front side of Richard Meier's enclosure for the Augustean Altar to Peace.
The altar was found accidentally in this area. Mussolini put the
altar into an enclosure in the Mausoleum of Augustus. In 2006 Richard
Meier, one of the world's “classical” architects, was
commissioned to build the present one - and has not found Peace
The building opened in 2006 to controversy. Nicolai Ouroussoff(!), of the New York Times called it "a flop". The presiding right-wing mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno, backed since July 2008 by culture undersecretary Francesco Maria Giro, threatened that he would tear down the new structure.
Mayor Alemmano has since changed his stance on the building and has agreed with Mr. Meier to modifications including drastically reducing the height of the wall between an open-air space adjacent to the museum and a busy road along the Tiber river. The city plans to build a wide pedestrian area along the river and run the road underneath it. "It's an improvement," says Meier, adding that "the reason that wall was there has to do with traffic and noise. Once that is eliminated, the idea of opening the piazza to the river is a good one." The mayor’s office said Alemanno hopes to complete the project before the end of his term in 2013. Text excerpted from Wikipedia