A Modernist City, Frozen In Time

A treasure of early 20th century rationalist design lies in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea.
November 2, 2003, 7am PST | David Gest
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In the mid-1930s, Benito Mussolini chose Asmara, "a city planned and developed in the early 20th century by Italian colonizers," as a new base for expansion of his empire. Over the next six years, the Italian government constructed over 400 modern (or "rationalist," or "Facist") buildings there. "They built ministries, cinemas, commercial buildings, hotels, villas, parks and sports facilities" for "tens of thousands of Italian" settlers. World War II and Eritrea's war of independence from Ethiopia froze the city's development, meaning that minimal restoration work could restore Asmara to its original Modernist charm. Asmara's story is the subject of a new book by "MIT-trained architect and author" Naigzy Gebremedhin, entitled "Asmara: Africa's Secret Modernist City."

Thanks to David Gest

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Published on Saturday, October 25, 2003 in The Washington Post
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