Cemetery Extension by Leonardo Ricci in Jesi, 1984-1994 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

Brutalist Italy. Cemetery Extension by Leonardo Ricci in Jesi, 1984-1994 – Photo by Stefano Perego.

Architecture – When you envision Italian architecture, you likely think of Renaissance palaces, medieval villages, and baroque churches. Yet Italy also boasts striking brutalist structures. Over the course of five years and a staggering 20,000-kilometre journey, architectural photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego captured the great variety of brutalist buildings.

Jesus the Redeemer Church by Nicola Mosso, Leonardo Mosso and Livio Norzi in Turin, 1954-1957 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

Jesus the Redeemer Church by Nicola Mosso, Leonardo Mosso and Livio Norzi in Turin, 1954-1957 – Photo by Stefano Perego.

Their extraordinary expedition is documented in Brutalist Italy, a groundbreaking photographic book—published by FUEL—that presents a meticulously curated selection of over 100 Italian concrete architectures, most of which were built between the 1960s and the 1980s, showcased through 146 images.

Brutalist Italy cover - courtesy of FUEL.

Brutalist Italy cover – Photo by FUEL.

Beyond our personal interest in this type of buildings, the intention was precisely to describe a phenomenon that in a certain way defined an important phase of our country’s architectural history, perhaps too hastily forgotten and negatively labelled.” Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego told Archipanic.

Tree House by Giuseppe Perugini, Raynaldo Perugini and Uga De Plaisant, in Fregene, 1968-1971 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

Tree House by Giuseppe Perugini, Raynaldo Perugini and Uga De Plaisant, in Fregene, 1968-1971 – Photo by Stefano Perego.

Brutalism, a bold architectural style with minimalist aesthetics that lasted from the 1950s to the 1970s, is characterised by simple, block-like, hulking concrete structuresIn the foreword, Adrian Forty, professor emeritus of architectural history at The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, notes that “Italian architects stood out from their counterparts elsewhere in the world.

Monumental Cemetery extension by Luigi Ciapparella in Busto Arsizio, 1971 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

Monumental Cemetery extension by Luigi Ciapparella in Busto Arsizio, 1971 – Photo by Stefano Perego.

Generally, during the twentieth century, concrete was treated exclusively as a future-oriented medium. But circumstances in Italy made architects anxious to represent its past as well as its future,” continues Forty. Indeed, after World War II, Italian architects were keen to distance themselves from fascism without rejecting the architectural modernism that had flourished during that era.

Industry Viaduct-Musmeci Bridge by Sergio Musmeci in Potenza, 1967-1976 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

Industry Viaduct-Musmeci Bridge by Sergio Musmeci in Potenza, 1967-1976 – Photo by Stefano Perego.

They developed a form of contemporary architecture that engaged with traditional methods and materials, drawing on uncontaminated historical references. This plurality of pasts assimilated into new constructions is a recurring feature of the country’s Brutalist buildings, imparting them a unique identity.

National Temple to Mary, Mother and Queen by Antonio Guacci and Sergio Musmeci in Trieste, 1965 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

National Temple to Mary, Mother and Queen by Antonio Guacci and Sergio Musmeci in Trieste, 1965 – Photo by Stefano Perego.

Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego note that both churches and cemeteries play important roles in Italian Brutalism for different reasons. “The churches because the Second Vatican Council (1965) particularly promoted the construction of buildings other than traditional ones,” the photographers told Archipanic. The cemeteries because many large and medium-sized urban centres saw their population increase in those decades, therefore having the need to significantly expand their cemeteries with new areas.”

Our Lady of Tears Sanctuar by Michel Andrault and Pierre Parat in Syracuse, Sicily, 1966-1994 - Photo by Roberto Conte.

Our Lady of Tears Sanctuar by Michel Andrault and Pierre Parat in Syracuse, Sicily, 1966-1994 – Photo by Roberto Conte.

Social housing is also a recurring theme. “Italian architects of those years extensively used reinforced concrete, experimenting with different types of solutions, from the Corviale and Tor Sapienza in Rome to the Rozzol Melara in Trieste, from the Lavatrici—washing machines—of Genoa to the Vele di Scampia, as well as brilliant cases such as the Villaggio Matteotti in Terni. (They all are) very different examples, which have led to more or less effective or unsuccessful results for a whole series of variables.

The Washing Machines three housing complex by Aldo Luigi Rizzo, Aldo Pino, Andrea Mor and Angelo Sibilla in Pegli, Genoa, 1980-1989 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

The Washing Machines three housing complex by Aldo Luigi Rizzo, Aldo Pino, Andrea Mor and Angelo Sibilla in Pegli, Genoa, 1980-1989 – Photo by Stefano Perego.

Brutalist architecture in Italy has drawn a variety of reactions from the public. Some buildings have been loved unconditionally, some strongly despised, while others simply forgotten.” Conclude Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego.

Villaggio Matteotti social housing by Giancarlo De Carlo in Terni, 1969-1975 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

Villaggio Matteotti social housing by Giancarlo De Carlo in Terni, 1969-1975 – Photo by Stefano Perego.

In their own way, each depicts a vision of Italy distinct from that found on postcards, one in which the countless solutions made possible by reinforced concrete were built and tested – with courage, perhaps with madness, often in pursuit of utopia.”

Unfinished residential building by Aldo Loris Rossi in Bisaccia, 1981, built in 1990 - Photo by Roberto Conte.

Unfinished residential building by Aldo Loris Rossi in Bisaccia, 1981, built in 1990 – Photo by Roberto Conte.

Brutalist Italy, published by FUEL – All photos are by Roberto Conte or Stefano Perego, unless stated otherwise.

Studio-Museum Augusto Murer by Giuseppe Davanzo in Falcade, 1970-1971 - Photo by Roberto Conte.

Studio-Museum Augusto Murer by Giuseppe Davanzo in Falcade, 1970-1971 – Photo by Roberto Conte.

Unfinished building, Ispica - Photo by Roberto Conte.

Unfinished building, Ispica – Photo by Roberto Conte.

Urban furniture by Julio Lafuente in Collevalenza – Todi, 1953-1974 - Photo by Stefano Perego.

Urban furniture by Julio Lafuente in Collevalenza – Todi, 1953-1974 – Photo by Stefano Perego.