Sunday, January 11, 2009

former Casa del Fascio, Asmara

former Casa del Fascio, AsmaraAs one of Benito Mussolini's pet projects it was natural that Asmara would have an example of Facist architecture and perhaps not surprisinging that it was the Casa del Fascio or Facist Party Headquarters that would be that building.

This monumental, yet austere, building was designed in 1940 by Bruno Scalfani. It built on an earlier Casa del Fascio which operated as a Social Club for party members. That building was set back from the street and was accessed via two flights of stairs directly off the footpath.

This allowed Scalfani, whose building was sited at street level, to incorporate the assembly hall at the heart of his structure on the second storey.

former Casa del Fascio, Asmara

The asymetrical facade is dominated at one end by this tower topped by an arrangement of three narrow vertical windows.

The original plans, reproduced in Asmara - Africa's Secret Modernist City by Edward Denison, Guang Yu Ren and Naigzy Gebremedhin, show four of these narrow windows at the top of the tower.

The authors note that 'At the base of the tower is a huge vacant space upon which a sculpture of the Facist eagle was intended to hang, though it appears the scheme was never realized. Above the space for the eagle is a balcony from which Mussolini, if he had ever come to Eritrea, would almost certainly have made his speeches.'

Interior, former Casa del Fascio, Asmara

Inside the foyer, two staircases lead to the main rooms on the second floor. The rounded balconies on the upper floor provide elegant curves to the ceiling above the stairs.

Again on the upper level, the metal work of the balconies incoporate Eritrean flags which must have been added since liberation in 1991. I wonder what was originally intended for these spaces as the Italians themselves were evicted from Eritrea in 1941 by the British and probably the building was not completed by then.

Interior, former Casa del Fascio, Asmara

The metalwork on the bannisters leading up the stairs incorporate these magnificent flame torches. These may or may not have been part of the original design.

Today, the building is used by the Ministry of Education.

Asmara: Africa's Secret Modernist City~ Edward Denison, Guang Yu Ren & Naigzy Gebremedhim


  1. Already seen the new web site on Italian Architecture during the Fascismo ?
    Thanks for your visit.
    Gianni Porcellini

  2. Gianni, Having problems with the link but I'll try again later.