Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, LC2015 - Le Corbusier, 50 years later

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Le Corbusier’s Proposal for the Capital of Ethiopia: Fascism and Coercive Design of Imperial Identities
Elisa Dainese

Last modified: 12-11-2015


Abstract: In 1936, immediately after the Italian conquest of the Ethiopian territories, the Fascist government initiated a competition to prepare the plan of Addis Ababa. Shortly, the new capital of the Italian empire in East Africa became the center of the Fascist debate on colonial planning and the core of the architectural discussion on the design for the control of African people. Taking into consideration the proposal for Addis Ababa designed by Le Corbusier, this paper reveals his perception of Europe’s role of supremacy in the colonial history of the 1930s. Le Corbusier admired the achievements of European colonialism in North Africa, especially the work of Prost and Lyautey, and appreciated the results of French domination in the continent. As architect and planner, he shared the Eurocentric assumption that considered overseas colonies as natural extension of European countries, and believed that the separation of indigenous and European quarters led to a more efficient control of the colonial city. In Addis Ababa he worked within the limit of the Italian colonial framework and, in the urgencies of the construction of the Fascist colonial empire, he participated in the coercive construction of imperial identities.


Keywords: Le Corbusier; Addis Ababa; colonial city; Fascist architecture; racial separation; Eurocentrism.


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4995/LC2015.2015.838

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