Period 2: Angiolo Mazzoni (1936-1942)

Stazione Termini


Due to rapid demographic expansion and modernisation, the first Termini station became unsuitable for its function. It was decided to rebuild the old station in view of the upcoming event Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR). The EUR was meant to celebrate the new third Rome. The regime of Mussolini made a plan, the E'42, for linking the historic centre from Stazione Termini to where the EUR would take place. The E'42 project supported the fascist regime by building impressive fascist buildings and spaces. It would make Rome the centre of the Italian fascist imperium. The EUR was planned to take place in 1942 for the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the March on Rome. The function of the new train station was to transport the enormous number of visitors and tourist for the EUR. Moreover, it would help the development of Rome as an influential city [1] [2].

Angiolo Mazzoni (1894-1979) was asked to design the new station. He was the chief architect for the Ministry of Communications and for the State Railways, in order of the Fascist Rebuilding Program. Railroad stations had a special status in the fascist regime which becomes clear in one of Mussolini's statements. He stated that "the railroad is the mirror of the progress of the nation" [4]. Mazzoni was a powerful man in the Italian fascist regime [5]. Mazzoni designed several stations including Montecatini, Messina, Siena and Latina, as well as post offices for the fascist regime in Italy (see pictures below) [2]. A well-known example of Mazzoni's work is Trento's Railway Station which had a special significance for the fascist regime. It had this position because it is the capital of the Trentino-Alto Adige, which was annexed after World War I. The station was built in a modern and futurist style, it attracts the attention due to inventive use of materials such as steel, glass, and several varieties of local stone [3].

Trento Station [6] Siena Station [7] Latina Post Office [8]

Mura Serviane [9]

In his first design for the new Stazione Termini of 1936, Mazzoni richly used glass, pillars and an open atrium that led out to the Piazza dei Cinquecento. One of his ideas was to move the front of the station whereby the Mura Serviane (see picture right) would be visible again. The Mura Serviane is an ancient Roman defensive barrier for the city of Rome which was built in the fourth century b.C.. Nowadays, some parts of the wall are still visible at various locations in Rome. The largest section of the wall is the section by Stazione Termini. Even though Mazzoni's first design for the new station was approved by the municipal government, experts in arts, two national ministries and Mussolini, it was undermined by high officials of the Ministry of Communications. The new Termini station had to lead as a gateway to Mussolini's new imperial Rome, but Mazzoni's first design was too modern, it was inappropriate for the historical setting and it was insufficiently fascist. Mazzoni was a supporter of modern architecture in the Ministry of Communications, which conflicted with the traditional norms of the culture of architecture [4]. Why was his design accepted by several powerful persons, but disapproved by his own ministry? A possible reason is that there was discord about the definition of the fascist architecture style. Another possibility is that there was a conflict of interest inside the ministry and the officials wanted to thwart Mazzoni's plans. After some fundamental adjustments, Mazzoni's second design in 1938 won acceptance. In this design, less glass and more marble was used and the open atrium had an imperial character. The old Stazione Termini was demolished and the construction of the new Stazione Termini started in 1939. In 1942, the construction of the station stopped because of World War II. A part of the new station was already finished: two wings with a length of one kilometre [1] [2].

Mazzoni's design of the new Stazione Termini [10]

Side, front and back view of Mazzoni's Stazione Termini[11]

The main function of this new Stazione Termini would have been to transport passengers. Besides that, it would show the power of the Italian regime. Visitors who arrived in Rome would be impressed by this building and therefore they would regard Rome as the most important city of Italy and maybe even of Europe. Mazzoni did not design extra facilities such as shops and restaurants. This is an important part of the futurism style of Mazzoni's design, it is functional thus it should only fulfil its function and no other needs. Additional services would distract the visitors from the main function of Stazione Termini. The construction of the new Termini station designed by Mazzoni was never completed. In his design, it is possible to see how the station would have look liked when the construction would have continued (see pictures above and right). The style of this design can be described as a combination of futurism and fascism. These styles have developed after each other and have influenced each other. Futurism originated at first and has three features. First, the object refers to antiquity. Mazzoni designed pillars in the front of the building and two wings with arches. Pillars and archers are both features of the Roman antiquity. Moreover, Mazzoni made the Mura Serviane visible again, which originated from the ancient time. Secondly, the object is functional. The main function of the station was to transport passengers and therefore, no other functions or facilities were present because this would not add value to the purpose of the station. In the front of the station, many enormous doors were created which would lead the passengers to the platforms. Thirdly, the object has no ornaments. The new station would have been an impressive, massive building with straight lines and rectangular shapes but without special details or ornaments.

Several journals made the connection between futurism and fascism, in their eyes futurism was the basis for the fascist style. Furthermore, some stated that the Italian regime should adopt futurism as the state art since the government needed an aesthetic style to govern most effectively. However, at the beginning, not all Futurists wanted to work under the fascist regime. Important decisions about the distribution of several commissions were made by the government. Next to this, the Italian government censored the art and had control over it [12]. In 1932, Mazzoni was chosen to design the new train station in Florence. Until that moment, Mazzoni was not a futurist but he declared himself a member [5]. Mazzoni's design for the new station is different compared to the old Stazione Termini. One difference is the size, the new station would have been larger with more platforms because of the increasing demand. Moreover, the style of the two buildings is completely different. Bianchi designed many details and ornaments, the new station would not have had this. The new Termini would have been simple and rectangular, the old station had many arches and was more playful. The two designs have also some similarities. Both refer to antiquity in the form of arches and pillars. Furthermore, both stations' main function was to transport travellers.

Sources


  1. Kallis, A. (2014). The Third Rome 1922-1943. Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. Painter, B. (2005). Mussolini's Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City. Palgrave Macmillan US.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angiolo_Mazzoni [Accessed 24 Sep. 2017]
  4. Etlin, R. A. (1991). Modernism in Italian Architecture, 1890-1940. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  5. Greene, V., & Salaris, C. (2014). Italian Futurism, 1909-1944. New York: Guggenheim Museum Publications,U.S.
  6. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dd/Trento_station_columns.JPG/250px-Trento_station_columns.JPG [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017]
  7. http://www.toneguzzi.it/someje/coppermine/albums/fullsize/stazione_siena.jpg [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017]
  8. https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c6/5b/d3/c65bd30fd828e6efc0624f87127886ca.jpg [Accesed 28 Dec. 2017]
  9. http://www.romasotterranea.it/upl/Mura%20serviane.jpg [Accessed 7. Oct 2017]
  10. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CxOo0vgXUAA4sjt.jpg [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017]
  11. https://wikiarquitectura.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Termini_alz_Mazzoni-500x483.jpg [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017]
  12. Taylor, C. (1979). Futurism: Politics, Painting and Performance. Rochester : UMI Research Press.