Un faro della civiltà latina: la Città Universitaria di Rio de Janeiro di Piacentini e Morpurgo. 1935-1946
In: Quaderni dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Architettura, 2018
The Piacentini project for the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1935-1938) began as a result of the Brazilian government’s request
to build a work of art to elevate Vargas’ authoritarian regime to the level of icon. It was transformed into an attempt by the Fascist
government and Piacentini to export an architectural model overseas, the symbol of power for a superior and civilizing culture.
Piacentini’s attempt entered into competition with a similar proposal by Le Corbusier, which also showed signs of involvement by the Brazilian government. The two projects showing different architectural tendencies are compared here, both as
expressions of inclusive cultures, of missions of “civilization”.
In August 1935, a few months after the inauguration of the University of Rome (Città universitaria)
, Piacentini went to Rio de
Janeiro, with the task of designing the University. A year later, in July 1936, Le Corbusier arrived in Rio de Janeiro, having received
the same invitation. But the proposals made by the Swiss architect were rejected and the task was entrusted to Piacentini alone. Busy
already with the E42 project, in September 1937, the academic sent Morpurgo to Rio. The final development of the project was, however, carried out in Rome under the guidance of Piacentini in the spring of 1938. Approved by the Brazilian authorities, the project
was exhibited at the Exposição do Estado Novo in Rio de Janiero in December 1938.
As a result of the project designers not being present at the direction of the works, progress on the project was soon halted due to lack of funds. The change in the international situation that followed after the war and the removal of Vargas from power made the implementation of the project anachronistic.