CAPRESI, Vittoria – White Cubism Reloaded. The reinterpretation of Libyan Vernacular Architecture as the Answer to how to build in the Colony in Regionalism, Nationalism & Modern Architecture. Proceedings. Edited by Jorge Cunha Pimentel, Alexandra Trevisan and Alexandra Cardoso. Porto: CEAA, 2018, p. 63-75

ABSTRACT: The debate on how to build in the colony Libya started in the 1930ies, when all the most famous architects in Italy publically rejected the romantic so-called “Alhambra style”, emphasising the need in Libya for a more sober and functional design, also in respond to the climatic needs.

How should this new colonial style have been? Several hints can be found in the competition calls that the Italian State launched for public buildings and spaces. The main request was that buildings would have need to be colonial, modern and fascist; still, no precise formal definitions on how colonial, modern and fascist architecture should look like were provided.

The response from the architects was finally more interesting than the requests made by the State: Libyan local forms, materials, typological and functional solutions were investigated, to understand how to reuse and adapt vernacular architecture to accomplish the requests of the fascist regime. The idea of Mediterraneity was than formulated, as the national answer to a functional architecture for the colony and the southern part of Italy.

In which sense the idea of Mediterraneity was the national answer to a need for a more functional and rational architecture? How did the local Libyan architecture really influence the definition of a so-called Libyan Rationalism?

This paper aims at investigating the concepts of colonial, modern and fascist as applied at the architecture in the colonial Italian new settlements in Libya, formulating the thesis of an exchange between Italy and Libya in terms of a formal response to the climatic and functional needs of the two regions.


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