Fascist architecture is a style of architecture developed by architects of fascist societies in the early 20th century. The style gained popularity in the late 1920s with the rise of modernism along with the nationalism associated with fascist governments in western Europe. The style resembles that of ancient Rome. However, the fascist-era buildings lack ostentatious design, and were constructed with symmetry, simplicity, and a general lack of ornateness. Both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler utilized the new style of architecture as one of many ways to unify the citizens of their nations and attempt to mark a new era of nationalist culture, and to exhibit the absolute rule of the nation.
Today, new fascist architecture is scarce because of the axis powers' defeat in World War II. The fascist political ideology quickly went into decline along with the style of architecture after World War II. As a result, the post-fascist era has yielded nearly no new edifices of this style.
The fascist style of architecture reflects the values of Fascism as a political ideology that developed in the early 20th century after World War I. The philosophy is defined by a strong nationalist people governed by a totalitarian government. With regards to morals, a fascist society views the nation and race as supreme, and considers them more important than the individual. A fascist nation purges all cultures and ideas not descending from the history of the national culture. The vision of a strong, unified, and economically stable nation seemed appealing to western Europe after the physical and economic destruction after World War I, which contributed to the rise of fascism and corporatism.
Italian and German Fascism
Fascist architecture became popular under Benito Mussolini's rule of Italy from 1922 to 1943. Within this period he transformed the Italian executive role from that of a prime minister to a dictatorship. A few years after his taking of office he was referred to as Il Duce (the leader). When Mussolini took office, he took on the role of bringing about fascism and idealism to replace democracy in Italy. He utilized all forms of media along with architectural identity. The new modernist style of architecture was one way to help build his vision of a unified fascist Italy. When Mussolini called for a fascist style of architecture, architects used the style to imitate that of imperial Rome and to bring historical pride and a sense of nationalism to the Italian people. Fascist architecture was one of many ways for Mussolini to invigorate a cultural rebirth in Italy and to mark a new era of Italian culture under fascism.
Similarly, once Hitler came to power in 1933 and transformed the German Chancellory to a dictatorship, he used fascist architecture as one of many tools to help unify and nationalize Germany under his rule. Hitler had plans to rebuild Berlin after the axis powers won World War II under the name Germania, or Welthauptstadt Germania. Hitler had his favorite architect, Albert Speer, design this new metropolis using fascist architecture design.
Fascist styled architecture is a branch of modernist architecture which became popular in the early 20th century. The fascist style was also greatly influenced by the rationalist movement in Italy in the 1920s. Rationalist architecture, with the help of Italian government support, celebrated the new fascist age of culture and government in Italy.
In Nazi Germany, the extremely large and spacious Fascist architecture was one way envisioned by Hitler to unify Germany by designing structures for what he described as "mass experiences" in which thousands of citizens could gather and take part in the patriotism of community events and listen to speeches made by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi party leaders.
The fascist style of architecture was very similar to the ancient Roman style. Fascist buildings were generally very large and symmetric with sharp non-rounded edges. The buildings purposefully conveyed a sense of awe and intimidation through their size, and were made of limestone and other durable stones in order to last the entirety of the fascist era. The buildings were also very plain with little or no decoration and lacked any complexity in design. These generalities of fascist architecture contributed to the simple aesthetics the edifices display. All these aspects helped the fascist dictatorships exhibit absolute and total rule of the population. Hitler and Mussolini used fascist architecture as another source of propaganda to display to the world the strength, pride, and power their regimes had.
The most prominent Italian and German fascist architects of the era were Giuseppe Terragni, Marcello Piacentini, and Albert Speer.
- Giuseppe Terragni – Notable work of Terragni includes the Casa del Fascio
- Marcello Piacentini – Notable work of Piacentini includes the fascist district EUR, Rome
- Albert Speer – Speer was Hitler's favorite German architect. He designed the Zeppelinfeld Stadium and had plans of rebuilding Berlin, using fascist style architecture, around a massive hall called the Volkshalle.
A few of the notable fascist architecture projects of the 20th century include
- EUR, Rome (Esposizione Universale Roma) – Construction of the EUR began in 1936 in anticipation for Mussolini's World Fair in 1942 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Italian fascist era
- Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana – A famous edifice of the EUR
- Palazzo di Giustizia, Milan
- Zeppelinfeld Stadium – Nazi party rally grounds
- Deutsches Stadion – the component of the nazi party grounds Albert Speer designed and Hitler envisioned would host all the future olympic games during the Third Reich
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