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Identität und Erbe » Vittoria Capresi: »The Fascist Settlements in Colonial Libya and Italy. Mapping Quantitative and Qualitative data by combining architecture and memories«

Vittoria Capresi: »The Fascist Settlements in Colonial Libya and Italy. Mapping Quantitative and Qualitative data by combining architecture and memories«

Technische Universität Berlin

Straße des 17. Juni 135, Hauptgebäude, H112

18.30 Uhr s.t.

How can people’s memories contribute to our understanding of the built environment? How can narratives about spaces shed new light on the mechanisms that govern architecture and buildings? If considering architecture built under fascism, can oral histories suggest an alternative interpretation of facts? Can private stories contribute to the process of decolonisation and at the same time valorisation of this controversial architecture? The subjects of the lecture are the new settlements built by Mussolini in colonial Libya and Italy in the 1930’s. The realisation of the new towns and settlements, both in Italy and in the colony, was a step to achieve the project of internal colonisation launched by Mussolini, which envisaged the shifting of population from regions that were overpopulated and had high unemployment rates, to the newly funded towns. The reclamation of the Agro Pontino, a marsh district south from Rome, took from 1927 until 1939. It included, besides the draining of the marshes, the subdivision into agrarian parcels of 840 square kilometres of land, the realisation of around 3000 farms and 18 villages and five new towns. The program of mass colonisation of Libya envisaged the transfer of 100.000 peasants to the colony, divided into 5 yearly transfers of 20.000 people. In 1938 and 1939 the first two stages of its implementation took place, with the organised transfer of circa 40.000 Italian peasants to 27 settlements on the coasts of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. What happened after the end of fascism and colonisation? Where the agricultural programs completed? What happened to the architecture and the inhabitants? From being part of a big political utopia, did the settlers change their habits and everyday lives after the end of fascism? Did their personal stories contributed to a more objective interpretation of the fascist architecture? This paper aims at exploring how a method which combines both objective data and subjective narratives can contribute to the overall understanding of the architecture of the fascist rural settlements. In particular the idea of fascism as promoted by the State and as perceived by the settlers will be analysed and compared. The topic is one of the research themes in the MODSCAPES EU project, Modernist Reinvention of the Rural Landscapes www.modescapes.eu

Dr. Vittoria Capresi has been a senior researcher at the Habitat Unit since October 2016, as a Principal Investigator of the International European Project MODSCAPES – Modern Reinvention of the Rural Landscapes, a fully granted HERA project (Humanity in the European Research Area). Her research focuses on the role of fascist political architecture and on relating the physical environment with the narratives of the inhabitants, exploring the intersection between planned architecture and lived spaces. Vittoria started in Cairo her research on how to combine oral history methods with the historical analysis of the built heritage: in 2011 she was appointed as Associate Professor in History of Architecture at the German University – GUC, at the newly established faculty of Architecture, where she developed the curriculum for the history of architecture curse. She focused on fostering a reality-based way of teaching, establishing hands-on seminars, design-build studios, and international workshops, to relate the students with the challenges and potentials of their city. To support this approach, in 2011 she co-founded „baladilab“, initiating a series of participatory projects in Downtown Cairo, involving the local community and architecture students to map, collect, survey and share the architecture of that area. The results are in the book: Downtown Cairo, Architecture and Stories (Jovis 2005) and were exhibited at the Biennale di Venezia in 2016, Egyptian Pavilion. From 2002 until 2011 she was researching and teaching at the Vienna University of Technology, department Baugeschichte / Bauforschung, where she completed in 2007 her doctoral dissertation. Her Ph.D. focuses on historical analysis and current urban and political role of the new settlements built in colonial Libya under the fascist regime and was published in 2010: The built Utopia. The Italian Rural Centres founded in colonial Libya (1934-1940), Bologna: Bonomia University Press. Vittoria studied architecture at the University in Florence and at the Technical University in Berlin, her Diplom was about the analysis and reuse of the Garbaty former cigarettes factory in Pankow, Berlin.