Mediating the Periphery: Borgata Gordiani from Interwar to Postwar Rome

    • Lucca November 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Anna Mascorella, Department of Architecture, Cornell University, USA


    Located in the undeveloped countryside that comprised Rome’s periphery, Borgata Gordiani was among the earliest’and worst’social housing efforts developed under Italy’s Fascist regime. Built in the early 1930s, the project formed a makeshift neighborhood consisting of rows of brick shacks intended as temporary housing for the rural migrants, urban poor, and lower-working-class families who were deliberately displaced from Rome’s historic center by the regime’s renovation of the city. However, the inhabitation of the Borgata extended well beyond its Fascist-era inception and intention. Continually occupied until 1980, Borgata Gordiani’s controversial presence has persisted through a range of imagery, both individual and institutional. These visual and verbal forms of documentation offer a means by which to enter peripheral Rome and access one of the complex narratives of its architectural and urban history. This presentation examines the trajectory of Borgata Gordiani’s development, inhabitation, and degradation through its depiction in photography, oral testimony, and film to reveal how these different types of representation construct a conflicting urban image of peripheral Rome and its transformations. Borgata Gordiani thus serves as a case study that contextualizes the legacy of Fascist urban interventions beyond Rome’s historic center and after the fall of the regime, while also articulating how external perceptions of the borgata and its inhabitants, as well as the identity of the inhabitants themselves, shaped the form and representation of their displacement. As such, this exploration sifts through layers of intention and mediation, and experience and memory to craft an account of Borgata Gordiani that extends from its interwar conception to its late-twentieth-century destruction in order to identify the broader traces of Fascism, their consequences, and their postwar perpetuation.