Beyond Filmmaking: Searching for a Neorealist Architecture in Italy, 194X-195X

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Author
David Escudero

Supervisor
Juan Miguel Hernández León

Defence
2020

Mark
Sobresaliente, cum laude

Examining board
Juan Calatrava (Pdte.)
Juan Carlos Arnuncio (Secret.)
Javier Arnaldo
Antonello Monaco
Davide T. Ferrando

After the Second World War, a wave of Italian films emerged that depicted the life and hardships of characters left helpless after the conflict, bringing to the screen the struggles of a time of existential angst and uncertainty. This form of filmmaking was associated with a broader phenomenon known as ‘neorealism’ and is now considered a pivotal point in the history of Italian cinema.

Neorealism was not limited to the screen; it spread to other areas of artistic production, eventually reaching the field of architecture. Terms such as ‘neorealist architecture’ or ‘architectural neorealism’ were proposed at that time and brought up in academia over the following decades. While the concept has been internalised by Italian architectural theory and history, transfers between neorealism and architecture are still not fully understood and significant grey areas remain.

This dissertation explores the relationships between architecture, filmmaking and the environment in dopoguerra Italy (194X-195X). Its principal objective is an in-depth discussion of the concept of ‘neorealist architecture’, the working assumption being that the connection between both terms is not meaningless. Using as a starting point the cultural context where it originated, this dissertation seeks to ascertain whether, and how, neorealism manifested itself in architecture.

What was, then, – if it even existed – neorealist architecture?