Hans Lamers and Bettina Reitz-Joosse, The Codex Fori Mussolini: A Latin Text of Italian Fascism
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Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer were famously obsessed with the ‘ruin value’ of modern architecture: the idea that buildings should be designed not just with their pristine state in mind, but in anticipation of their future function as aesthetically pleasing ruins. The monumental style favoured by twentieth-century dictators – whether Hitler, Saddam Hussein or Kim Il-Sung – was always about permanence and transcending time, about reminding later generations of the eternal ‘achievements’ of their regimes.
Arguably the leader most obsessed by architectural immortality was Benito Mussolini. Surrounded by the architectonic legacies of consuls, emperors and popes, Il Ducesought to leave his own permanent mark on Italy’s built environment. Many readers will already be familiar with his regime’s aggressive archaeological excavations and urban planning schemes, as well as new constructions like the EUR district in southern Rome or the ‘New Towns’ in the Pontine Marshes. To this day, these...