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‘Everything in the state, nothing against the state, nothing outside the state’: corporativist urbanism and Rationalist architecture in fascist Italy

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Corporativist urbanism, in which Italian Rationalist architects adapted modernist design principles to the scales of urban and regional planning, represented an attempt to reshape and restructure Italian society through the comprehensive transformation of the built environment. Corporativist urbanism synthesized the empirical methods and programmatic concerns endorsed by the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (International Congress of Modern Architecture or CIAM) with the rhetorical imperatives of the fascist regime in an attempt to rationalize industrial and agricultural production processes, promote hygienic and efficient living standards and instill in the citizenry a collective and militant mass identity in service to the fascist state. The primary vehicle for the advocates of corporativist urbanism was Quadrante, a ‘journal of battle’ that championed modern architecture and urbanism as integral components of the fascist state. Founded in May 1933 by Italy's leading Rationalist architects (as well as artists, critics, engineers and significant patrons of modern architecture), Quadrante pressed the case for an urbanism that would support the fascist regime's policies and represent its values. Quadrante's editors and contributors included Italy's most important urban planners, and all of the country's delegates to CIAM. Compared with the modern movement worldwide, the experience of Italian architects is both exemplary and exceptional: exemplary in the vital importance urbanism held for architecture (and regional planning held for urban planning), but exceptional in the centrality of fascist rhetoric to their theorization of design at every scale. The Rationalists recognized an inherent affinity between the political hierarchies and economic order of corporativist fascism and the city planning strategies of CIAM, in which the international organization turned from the question of modern architecture to a concern with urbanism in order to reform society by reordering the metropolis. This essay examines the Quadrante circle's theoretical writings on corporativist urbanism in the context of their urban planning proposals in order to understand how CIAM's principles were transformed by the organization's Italian members and how corporative fascism was shaped by designers.

Keywords: Italy; Quadrante; Rationalism; corporativism; fascism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Architecture,Florida International University, Miami,FL, USA

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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