Adalberto Libera was one of the most important architects of the XXth century, as well as being one of the most emblematic. He was a pioneer of architectural modernity and a die-hard fascist.
He was both innovative and an architect of the regime. Unlike the Nazis, Mussolini made an alliance with the modern movement, which became, for architecture, the official style of fascism.
In 1937, the regime launched one of its most ambitious projects – the E 42. The idea was to create a new monumental city embodying the new Imperial Rome, for the International Exhibition of 1942.
Libera won the competition for one of the most important buildings of the group – the Reception and Congress Building. It was more than a monumental building. It was « a basilica and temple », « a pantheon in reinforced concrete », a rationalist manifesto founded on simple geometrical forms – a parallelepiped and a cube.
Launched amidst great pomp and circumstance in 1938, the work made rapid progress initially and the structure was finished by the end of 1939. But when Italy entered war alongside Nazi Germany, this threw a spanner in the works. The pace of work became sluggish and was abandoned altogether in 1944 due to the allied bombing.
The E 42 quarter was to remain a dead town and wasteland, until in 1950, when the Italian Christian Democrats decided to resume work on it. The Reception and Congress building was only finished and put into service in 1952.
Analysing the building as it is today, but also using many archives from fascist Italy, this film explores the paradoxical alliance between a formal avant-garde movement and a totalitarian ideology. On a more general level, it also explores the link between architecture and power.