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220 × 171 × 22 mm
336 pages
207 illustrations
01 Oct 2011
Modern Architectures in History

Italy Modern Architectures in History Diane Yvonne Ghirardo

Throughout the twentieth century, architects in Italy have attempted to define the role of architecture under diverse political systems, from the monarchy of the first seventy years since Italian unification, to the 21 years of Fascist control, to the post-Second World War parliamentary republic. At the same time, Italy holds some of the most prized architecture and art in the world, from antiquity to the baroque, packed into its dense historic city centres, which planners and politicians have negotiated as they struggled to cope with massive migration from the countryside to the city. Diane Ghirardo addresses these and other issues by considering modern architectural production in Italy from the late nineteenth century to the present day within a clear presentation of the larger historical, social and political contexts.

From the post-unification efforts to identify a distinctly Italian architectural language to the transformation of the urban environment in Italian cities undergoing industrialization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Diane Ghirardo challenges received interpretations of modern architecture, as well as focusing on the subject of illegal building and responses to current ecological challenges. With up-to-date examples, both from the work of widely published architects in the largest cities and from throughout the peninsula, including small towns and rural areas, Italy: Modern Architectures in History provides a comprehensive view of the country’s modern built environment.

A fascinating insight into the development of modern architecture with nuanced arguments about architecture and building practices, this book offers a new way of understanding the history of modern Italy and is essential reading for all those who want to learn more about Italian modern architecture.

‘Ghirardos work is distinguished by its breadth and insights.While provocative and partisan, this well-balanced book treats its subject matter with appropriate respect. Specialists in the field will find its historiographic stance a welcome challenge to the conventional reception of Italian modernism, and students will find it a compelling introduction to the richly diverse architectural production of modern Italy.’ — Journal of Architectural Education

‘[a] synthetic, sharp text . . . a modern architectural history of a country sorely in need of self-criticism.’ — Giornale dell'Architettura, Italy

‘[Ghirardo] has lived, breathed, Italian architecture for decades and is by far one of the most accomplished scholars of architecture in that part of the world, and this book certainly proves it.’ — Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

‘pushes the discussion to a new level of both inquiry and synthesis’ — Architectural Histories

‘This book not only updates contemporary architectural history but also opens a new and complex landscape too often silenced elsewhere by redefining the role of Italian architecture within a capitalist economy . . . Diane Ghirardos book offers a new understanding the architectual history of Italy, providing a fundamental element for a critical historiography.’ — LIndustria delle Costruzioni magazine

‘This excellent history of architecture in Italy from unification to the present takes us on a fascinating journey through space and time, in which the built environment and mans traces on the Italian peninsula reveal the countrys history, culture and life.’ — Francesco da Mosto, architect, historian and television presenter

‘This is an important book, which analyses modern Italian architecture in its social, economic and cultural context. Ghirardos original and thought-provoking volume provides the reader with a wealth of information from housing and civic architecture to unauthorised building and the construction industrys impact on the environment. Highly recommended.’ — John Foot, Professor of Modern Italian History, UCL and author of Milan Since the Miracle, Italys Divided Memory and Pedalare! Pedalare!

‘One of the intriguing paradoxes of modern architecture is its centrality in the 20th century to Italy, cradle of classicism. In this masterful narrative, presented on the scale of a postwar neo-realist film, Diane Ghirardo documents the creative tensions and achievement of an architecture that first sought to materialize the Fascist future, only to be challenged to rebuild the Italy destroyed by Fascism and thereby restore to the built environment elegance and an ambience of hope and futurity.’ — Kevin Starr, University of Southern California

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Diane Yvonne Ghirardo is Professor of Architecture at the University of Southern California. She has published widely on Italian architecture.


1. Building a New Nation
2. The Exploding Metropolis
3. Architecture and the Fascist State, 1922–1943
4. War and its Aftermath
5. The Economic Miracle
6. Old Cities, New Buildings and Architectural Discourse
7. Landscape and Environment
8. Entering the Twenty-first Century

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Photo Acknowledgements