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The Light and the Line: Florestano Di Fausto and the Politics of 'Mediterraneità'


The prodigious works of Roman architect Florestano Di Fausto have long been overlooked by historians of modern architecture. As a technical consultant to the Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Di Fausto designed and constructed numerous Italian diplomatic offices throughout Eastern and Western Europe, South America, and the Near East. But he is most recognized for his colonial urban planning schemes and government buildings from 1923 until 1940 in North Africa and the Aegean. His works in these divergent locales conferred an eclectic sensibility to an already complex negotiation of ancient and “modern” architectural forms present in Italy’s colony of Libya as well as in the Dodecanese Islands. Furthermore, the range of projects Di Fausto completed in both settings attests to Italian modernism’s engagement with arabisances in the reworking of colonial architecture and urbanism. His designs must be seen as a counterpoint to other European modernists of the period who sought to remove any lingering symbols of the past from their plans, façades, and interiors. This article situates Florestano Di Fausto’s output within the aesthetic and socio-political discussions among Italian architects of the period, especially concerning an inherent italianità among Mediterranean vernacular architectures. In this regard, the Mediterranean is understood not as a space of resistance but as a filter through which architects like Di Fausto and others generated a new Italian architecture, free from the often restrictive tendencies found on the peninsula.

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