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Rationalism, Fascism and Education: A Critique of the Manifestation of Fascist Ideology and Rhetoric in Giuseppe Terragni’s Infant School, the Asilo Sant’Elia, Como, 1932- 1937

Part 2 Dissertation 2020
Madeleine Wellham
Cardiff University | UK
Marked by vacillations between the nobility of Papal Rome and the coveted image of progression, the inconsistencies of Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime enabled a proliferation of antithetical architectural factions that competed to be identified as the ‘official’ language of the state. Witnessed in his Casa del Fascio, the polemical Italian Rationalist, Giuseppe Terragni, was one such architect committed to delivering a new politically relevant aesthetic. Through analysis of a recently published report and Quadrante plate, this dissertation explores the political activism of one of Terragni’s lesser studied projects; the Asilo Infantile Sant’Elia a Como.

Typologically second only to his conceptual Clarita nursery project, the research explores how Terragni’s first built foray into pedagogic architecture served as a transgressive vehicle for his critical perceptions of the socio-cultural ambitions of the fascist regime. Prioritising concerns of hygiene, health and nationalism, the dissertation disseminates Terragni’s writings to reveal how the ardent fascist architect transformed immaterial fascist ideals into a physical architectural response thus applying political resonance to this new typology. The dissertation demonstrates Terragni’s acknowledgement of both Gentile’s education reforms and evolutions in European pedagogy before finally evaluating the articulations through which Terragni sought to endow the nursery the essence of Italianità.

Madeleine Wellham

Wes Aelbrecht
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