Francesca Bonfante (Politecnico di Milano)

Spatialized Corporatism Between Town and Countryside

This contribution deals with the relationship between town planning, architectural design and landscape in the foundation of “new towns” in Italy. In doing so, I shall focus on the Pontine Marshes, giving due consideration to then emerging theories about the fascist corporate state, whose foundation act may be traced back to Giuseppe Bottai’s “Charter of Labour”. This political-cultural “model” purported a clear hierarchy between settlements, each bound for a specific role, for which specific functions were to be assigned to different parts of the city. Similarly, cultivations in the countryside were to specialise.
In the Pontine Marshes, Littoria was to become a provincial capital and Sabaudia a tourist destination, Pontinia an industrial centre and Aprilia an eminently rural town.
Whereas the term “corporatism” may remind the guild system of the Middle Age, its 1930s revival meant to effectively supports the need for a cohesive organization of socio-economic forces, whose recognition and classification was to support the legal-political order of the state.
What was the corporate city supposed to be? Some Italian architects rephrased this question: what was the future city in Italy the hundred cities?
Bringing to the fore the distinguishing character of the settlements concerned, and based on the extensive literature available, this contribution discusses the composition of territorial and urban space, arguing that, in the Pontine Marshes, this entails the hierarchical triad farm-village-city, as well as an extraordinary figurative research at times hovering towards “classicism”, “rationalism” or “picturesque”. Composition and figuration are therefore not homogeneous, nor mere expressions of the fascist regime. They show instead a constant research, between aesthetics and practice, of an idea of modern city, of public space, of balance between city and countryside.

Giuseppe Bottai, Scritti (edited by di R. Bartolozzi, R. Del Giudice), Cappelli, 1965
Riccardo Mariani, Fascismo e cittá nuove, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1976
VV.AA., Anni Trenta. Arte e cultura in Italia, Mazzotta, 1982
Carlo Melograni, Architettura italiana sotto il fascismo. L’orgoglio della modestia contro la retorica monumentale 1926-1945, Bollati Boringhieri, 2008
Full-text available here: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1051/SHSCONF/20196302003