Giuseppe Pettazzi was an Italian Futurist architect of the 1930s. He was building during Italian Colonial Rule in Eritrea, Amasra. The city was a blank canvas for Italian architects who, from 1936 to 1941, were given the chance to dream a city into being. Their imaginations pushed the boundaries of technology and design, and they drafted dramatic solutions to the problems their new city faced. Giuseppe Pettazzi was one of those architects, and took his passions to almost comic proportions in the building of the iconic Fiat Tagliero Building - probably the world's most beautiful petrol station, and also one of the world's supreme examples of Futurism, its vertical and horizontal lines extolling speed and motion and urgency.
Basing his building on the contours of an aeroplane, Pettazzi was forced by Italian planning laws to include pillar supports for the two concrete 'wings'. Legend has it that during the inauguration he demanded the wooden props removed, and when the builders refused, he took a pistol and threatened to shoot their headman, demonstrating absolute faith in his design by standing on the tip of one wing during the de-posting process. Behind these men was the ruthless energy of Mussolini's fascist state, which approved of Modernism because it celebrated the machine age, technology and practicality. The whole city was completed - with suburbs, plumbing, roads and airport, in just six years - and this explains the startling coherence of style throughout Asmara. All over town sunbursts and geometric patterns are embedded in buildings and windows and railings. The Italian stamp was so strong that the place was nicknamed Piccola Roma - Little Rome.
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