Italian architecture of the 20th century

The artistic strength of twentieth-century Italian architecture does not stop at the borders of our country and is an example of beauty in the world.

The avant-garde, the works and the eclecticism of our most important artists became the object of desire of various countries around the world, struck by the style and aesthetic impact of the Italian works that came to light during this period. The personality that most embodies this period is Renzo Piano. The Centres Georges Pompidou is an example of his impact abroad; an imposing structure built in Paris, a mix of wood and steel skilfully juxtaposed to create a work the world envies. The Tjibaou Cultural Center in New Caledonia is another example of his artistic depth and how much he is appreciated around the world. A multifunctional and aesthetically beautiful structure, created for cultural events such as exhibitions, meetings and as an auditorium. It is also worth mentioning the figure of Massimiliano Fuskas, who brought the artistic strength of our country directly to Australia. The symbol of this enterprise is the Australian Forum, a completely transparent work that acts as an artificial link between nature and the urban centre, used as a congress centre. The Italian cultural and artistic repertoire knows excellences appreciated and famous all over the world. The Italian twentieth century, starting from the late nineteenth century, is perhaps the epicentre of our country’s creative and therefore artistic strength. Particularly in the first half of the century, Italian literature, music and, above all, architecture experienced a development and fortune destined to mark an era. The works created in this period fuelled the celebrity of our country in the field of design, with important artists capable of exporting creative and unique works to the world.

The growth of 20th century Italian architecture

The Italian twentieth century experienced the influence of various aesthetic and artistic currents that nurtured its development and fame. The celebrity of Italian architecture began with the stimuli of the Liberty style, perfectly embodied by Ernesto Basile; undoubtedly the greatest exponent of the period in the field of architecture, he brought the movement into vogue with remarkable works that are still today a symbol of Italian culture appreciated throughout the world. This made it even easier for Italian artists to absorb the twenty-year period characterised by the influence of Futurism; an artistic movement that decorated and characterised urban architecture in particular, becoming a source of inspiration for works and artists outside Italy, embodied by the eclectic Antonio Sant’Elia. The 1950s were also the time of the explosion of Made in Italy design. It was during this period that Italian creations became coveted and appreciated all over the world despite the difficulties of the post-war period. Beautiful design was born, encompassing furniture, household appliances but also transport.

Twentieth-century Italian architecture refers to all those architectural currents which, starting from the artistic movement of LIBERTY, developed in ITALY in the twentieth century. Let us summarise them:

Liberty style: The Art Nouveau, also known in Italy as the Floral Style, Art Nouveau or Art Nouveau, was an artistic and philosophical movement that developed between the end of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century and influenced the figurative arts, architecture and applied arts The Art Nouveau movement was most popular during the last period of the so-called Belle Époque.

Futurism:In Futurist works, the search for dynamism is almost always constant; that is, the subject never appears stationary, but in movement: for example, for them a horse in motion does not have four legs, it has twenty. Thus the simultaneity of vision becomes the main feature of Futurist paintings; the spectator does not look passively at the static object, but is as if enveloped by it, witnessing an action represented as it unfolds.

Fascist period: It represents a “return to order” trend, with a rejection of both the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century (Art Nouveau, Futurism, Cubism) and the new rationalist trend, with a reference to 19th-century Lombard neoclassicism and a simplified, austere language, in assonance with De Chirico’s metaphysical painting. Its main exponents were Giovanni Muzio, Giò Ponti and Paolo Mezzanotte. Monumentalism or “simplified neoclassicism”, which mediated between the avant-garde rationalist tendencies and the conservatism of the academy, became the architectural language of the regime, aimed at spreading Fascist ideals among the masses and transmitting the regime’s idea of grandeur, and which favoured the construction of monumental buildings with strong scenographic features. Its main exponent was Marcello Piacentini.

Italian Rationalism:
Between the 1920s and 1930s, Italian rationalism had a complex relationship with the technical, typological and aesthetic experimentation of the European avant-gardes, on the one hand, and with the self-representation needs of the Fascist regime, on the other.Even before individual designers and constructed buildings, the history of Italian rationalism is made up of groupings, movements, exhibitions and magazines. The creation of Gruppo 7 in 1926 marked the start of this brief season. They brought into play some of the fundamental themes that united the theoretical reflections and built works of all the exponents of Italian rationalism: the tension towards a “new” architecture, which took note of the existence of new technologies, such as reinforced concrete, and which participated in the construction of a new society; the influences of European modernism, and in particular of Le Corbusier, BUT ALSO OF Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius; the willingness, at the same time, to question the absolute value of these models, and the interest in applying them locally and nationally.
The architecture of the 1940s and 1950s was therefore intimately permeated by a populist spirit, tending to identify with the social effort of rebirth from the poverty and humiliation of war. The building programme of the administrations changed radically and included the construction of vast popular residential neighbourhoods on the outskirts of large cities and the redevelopment of depressed areas. In Italy, the most important modernist was Gio Ponti, who often worked with the structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, a specialist in reinforced concrete. Nervi created concrete beams of exceptional length, twenty-five metres, which allowed greater flexibility in form and greater heights. Their best known project was the Pirelli Building in Milan (1958-1960), which was the tallest building in Italy for decades.
The beautiful design of the 1950s.In addition to the marvellous works of urban design that are appreciated all over the world, the Italian twentieth century is characterised by the explosive development of Italian design, which dominated the international scene after World War II. The beauty of Made in Italy started with cars, in 1946, with the birth of the Vespa V98 farobasso model, thanks to the brilliant mind of engineer Corradino D’Ascanio. These were also the years of the spread of household appliances in Italy, which saw the emergence of the need to give importance to the shape and aesthetics of these objects in the home, as demonstrated by the creations of Olivetti, thanks to the creativity of Marcello Nizzoli.

The architecture of the 1940s and 1950s was therefore intimately permeated by a populist spirit, tending to identify with the social effort of rebirth from the poverty and humiliation of war. The building programme of the administrations changed radically and included the construction of vast popular residential neighbourhoods on the outskirts of large cities and the redevelopment of depressed areas.

The aesthetic and creative strength of Italian designers was confirmed by international exhibitions in London in 1955 and 1958 and in Chicago in 1959. The success of these events confirmed Italian supremacy in the world of design.

An iconic object is destined to last a long time and to find its place in every type of building.
photo by google