With the upcoming EXPO I have been thinking a lot about the layout of the would be Rome EXPO of 1942, however as it was never used, there has still never been a World Expo here in Rome, although it has been hosted in Italy four times.
Benito Mussolini, in is hopes of expanding his fascist empire and building a new Rome, as well as in his desire to display the greatness of Italian power to the world, attempted to hold a world exposition here in Rome. It was to be held in 1942, on the 20th anniversary of his March on Rome. In 1937 construction began to build this new city which would hold this exposition.
The project was called E42 or Esposizione 1942. It was to be built along the Via Imperiale that stretched from the Altare della Patria all the way to Ostia. Today this road is broken into Viale dei Imperiali and Via Cristoforo Colombo.
At the same time as this project, Mussolini worked to clear out the center of historic Rome. He believed this would solve two problems. The first was opening the historic Rome, as an image of italianita and grandeur, the second would solve his problem of necessity for modern buildings and housing.
EUR, as it is known today, was Rome’s first major reinvention. While many other cities continuously changed and renovated, Rome was the same as it had always been. This development was a push forward to bring Rome to the same modern field as all other capital cities.
Mussolini entrusted the design of this new city to Marcello Piacentini, a young architect who was the leading designer of fascist architecture. His work was Reactionary, Imperialistic, and Monumental. EUR became a meeting point for Rationalist and Antique architecture, mixing functionality with ancient motifs.
Everything about this city was to mirror Centro Storico. It included elements that paid homage to ancient structures such as the Colosseum and the Forum of Augustus. The entire message of the city is one of authority. This area has been used in a number of films depicting future societies including Equilibrium.
Although the Exposition never occurred, the area was salvaged around the later 1950’s and was reused. EUR served as presentation space during the 1960 Olympics. To this day EUR still functions as an industrial and office space of the city. Recently Fendi has taken the Palazzo della Civilita as its official Rome headquarters.
Unfortunately, the beauty of this area is not often realized as it is so far out of the city. EUR can be reached through Metro and is definitely worth a visit if you have the time. Although it is filled with Fascist propaganda architecture, the locals have forgotten this heritage, and choose to appreciate the area for it’s beautiful architecture. “You can’t reject those past 50years because intelligent people made art and it’s still art, whatever its flaws are. It’s not the ideology that matters it’s the art, one cannot forget or cross out history.” Director of the Luigi Piggorini Museum, found in EUR.