New from the prolific FUEL Publishing, Brutalist Italy is a photographic tour of the monumental concrete churches, apartment towers, and civic structures of Italy. Photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego, authors of the previous FUEL volume Soviet Asia, here turn their lenses to their homeland, documenting a multifaceted and wildly varied collection of structures that spans the length of the country.
For a style still associated with the coldness and severity of the former USSR and its often-bleak winter cityscapes, the book offers numerous counterexamples of whimsy and warmth. Italy’s postwar architecture is a fraught subject, both in its attempts to break with fascism and its association with mafia-tinged schemes (particularly in the country’s south) of endless construction that have led to an overall drain on the country’s ability to maintain its infrastructure. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of the buildings pictured remain in use today, with some of the larger brutalist apartment complexes rivaling those of Russia and its former satellite states. Other buildings, particularly smaller municipal structures, have a more regional flavor, and are frequently tucked between much older stone-and-tile structures or nestled atop rocky hills.
An introductory essay by architectural scholar Adrian Forty contextualizes the wide array of structures on display, offering historical background for the emergence of a particularly Italian form of Brutalism while placing it in the broader international scene. Overall, the book is a worthy addition to FUEL’s growing collection of similarly beautiful and minimal landscape-format hardcovers, which as a whole provide a wealth of information on, and examples of, the diversity of Brutalist architecture worldwide.
Brutalist Italy: Concrete Architecture from the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea
By Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego
English/Italian, introduction by Adrian Forty