Italian Rationalism

Essay by lulusgUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, October 2007

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The historical process which led to the creation of rationalism in architecture had none of its biological inevitability, and had no clear beginnings which can be pinpointed with precision. There were a number of predisposing causes and strands of ideas, each with its own pedigree.1 Rationalism, in general, started in the eighteenth century with the birth of progressive ideals and the Industrial Revolution. As factors evolved from both conditions, the architecture of the era was inevitably affected. The idealists wanted to come up with the idealistic city, obsessed with the utopian thought of changing a materialistic city to one which is more humane and harmonious. Several styles evolved and in particular, Traditionalism stood out. Many people believed that tradition was to inspire invention and at the same time invention keeps tradition alive. However, it was only when Marc Antoine Laugier came up with the concept of the primitive hut did the theory of how the best forms were rooted in functional or structural demands was developed and that was how Rationalism started.

It was with this, that the Rationalist doctrine re-emerged many years after in Italy.

After the war, Mussolini felt no constraints to use Rome as his play set and had the plan to renovate the place with a blend of theatricality, functionalism and propaganda.2 By the time Mussolini took control, Fascism was already well established. Thus there was minimal suspicion with reference to socialist ideology. There was a wide span of possibilities to play up various architectural styles with the focus on the concern for the consciousness of history. That opened up the new possibilities for modern tradition. That was also how a Rationalist doctrine re-emerged, under Gruppo 7.

Gruppo 7 was made up of 7 young architectural students. They started the third major movement in Italy,