A small historical footnote from the marque's history, but yesterday I saw a small article about Asmara, a city built in 6 years by the Italians in Eritrea, East Africa, in the late 1930s. It was written to coincide with an exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London. It looks fascinating, so I'm going to pay it a visit before the exhibition ends on 13 August.
Another article written to coincide with the exhibition can be found here and there is also a Wikipedia entry; some more photos are here. But does anyone know anything more about Alfa Romeo's presence in this country in the 1930s? The Alfa Romeo building is now an appartment block, but it does make me wonder what's left, waiting to be discovered ...A new exhibition has opened at RIBA in London, revealing the story behind a bizarre slice of 1930s Italy that survives in timewarp condition in Eritrea.
Asmara was Mussolini's dream of a Modernist city in Africa that would become the capital of his second Roman empire. Designed by Italian architects from 1936-1941, motivated and funded by fascist politics, the city was a shrine to technology - so it is no surprise that some of its finest pieces of reinforced concrete were built to celebrate the automobile. Surely one of the most dramatic forecourts in the world, Giuseppe Pettazzi's 1938 Fiat Tagliero service station was inspired by aircraft, with vast cantilevered concrete 'wings', and has recently been restored. Other motoring buildings include Alfa Romeo's former African HQ - its faded grandeur a surreal contrast to the surrounding poverty.
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