In Rome, there’s an entire district of Fascist architecture commissioned by Mussolini in 1935: the Esposizione Universale Roma, or EUR. The Italian dictator meant to host the 1942 World Fair there to celebrate his 20-years in power, but the onset of the Second World War thwarted Mussolini’s plans. What Mussolini didn't know is that one of the area's architectural highlights, Rome's 'square colosseum' would one day become the headquarters for fashion house, Fendi.
In the EUR district, there’s an iconic and architecturally important six-storey structure, a palazzo that is an emblem of New Classical architecture - the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana. It stands out with its symmetrical arches cut from travertine marble – an obvious ode to classic Roman architecture, but with a resolute totalitarian rigidity to it.
No wonder one of its nicknames is the Colosseo Quadrato, or, Square Colosseum.
Built in 1938, its construction was discontinued in 1941, remaining unfinished for over a decade. It opened to the public for the first time in 1953, hosting the Roma Agricultural Exhibition. Then the structure was closed again from 2003 until 2008 for restoration, but from 2015 onwards, the Italian luxury fashion house Fendi began been renting the Palazzo, using it as their global headquarters.
With its series of six superimposed rows of nine arches, the Palazzo is a striking and architecturally imposing place to call an office – reportedly costing the fashion house 2.8 million euros a year to rent it – but then again, fashionable Fendi is just as iconic an Italian national treasure, and when in Rome...
Fendi have dedicated the first floor of this historical monument as an exhibition space, in order to honor the house’s own heritage and open up possibilities to discover future artistic talent.
On the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana’s façade is inscribed: "A nation of poets, of artists, of heroes, of saints, of thinkers, of scientists, of navigators, of travelers".
For you architecture amigos out there peek at Villa Noailles' contemporary gallery in Cote D'Azur, Zurich's latest shoreside development by Bruno Bischofberger and line up to spy Gaudí from your window in Barcelona.
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