Fascism, Architecture and the City
This is easily my biggest area of research. It was the topic of my PhD: The Iconography of Rome: the Development of the Colosseum and the Basilica of St. Peter's as Symbols of the Eternal City. (University of Sydney, 2003). I got interested in the Italian Fascist period when I was living in Rome after finishing my architecture degree back in 1994. I was teaching English in the south-western suburb of EUR that was originally the site for the Rome’s 1942 International Expo (which never happened, by the way because the fall of Fascism and WWII kind of got in the way!). And I got to wondering about Fascism and Fascist architecture and how much it had impacted Rome’s architecture, its urban development and even the Romans themselves.
Twenty years or so later I have written all about Rome in the Fascist period and seen the many connections it has with the ancient and 16th C city. More recently I have been focusing on the legacy left behind by the Fascist period through the memorial to the Fosse Ardeatine massacre, the graffiti of the violent ‘Bullet Years’ (1968-1982) and the re-use of Fascist buildings in the post-war period. I am currently writing a book on this topic with Bloomsbury.
I have also spent time in Milan researching the Triennale and the work of Giuseppe Pagano. Pagano was a very interesting man who fought in World War I, became a dedicated Fascist and who later, disillusioned with the regime, fought as a partisan in the Resistance and died in a Nazi concentration camp. He was an architect, an exhibition designer, a photographer and the editor of Casabella. He believed in architecture as a force for social change and had a profound on Italian architecture that continues to this day. My biography on Pagano (written with the help of Tim Benton, Noa Steimatsky, Claudia Cagneschi and Caterina Franchini) in production with independent publishers Intellect Press and will be published in March 2020.
Giuseppe Pagano, Self Portait in front of Bocconi University
Monument to the Fosse Ardeatine massacre. Photograph by Ian Woodcock