Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Antonio Sant'Elia (1888 - 1916) was an Italian architect who built only a small villa - and had a tremendous influence upon the modern architecture.

He was born in Como, Lombardy. A builder by training, he opened a design office in Milan in 1912 and became involved with the Futurist movement. Between 1912 and 1914, influenced by industrial cities of the United States and the Viennese architects Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos, he began a series of design drawings for a futurist Città Nuova ("New City") that was conceived as a new age symbol.

Many of these drawings were displayed at the only Nuove Tendenze group (of which he was a member) exhibition in May/June 1914 at the "Famiglia Artistica" gallery. Today, some of these drawings, preserved by Marinetti, are on permanent display at Como's art gallery (Pinacoteca).

The Futurist Architecture manifesto was published in August 1914, supposedly by Sant'Elia, though this is subject to debate. The author stated that "the decorative value of Futurist architecture depends solely on the use and original arrangement of raw or bare or violently colored materials".

As described in this manifesto, his designs featured bold groupings and large-scale disposition of planes and masses creating a heroic industrial expressionism. His vision was of a highly industrialized and mechanized city of the future, which he saw not as a mass of individual buildings but as a vast multi-level interconnected and integrated conurbation designed around the "life" of the city. Sant'Elia's extremely influential designs featured vast monolithic skyscraper buildings with terraces, bridges and aerial walkways that embodied the sheer excitement of modern architecture and technology.

A nationalist as well as an irredentist, Sant'Elia joined the Italian army when Italy entered World War I in 1915. He was killed during the Battles of the Isonzo, near Monfalcone. Most of his designs were never built, but his futurist vision has influenced many architects, artists and designers.

Another Futurist architect from Como, Giuseppe Terragni, greatly influenced by Sant'Elia, used his 'monumental building' sketch to design the Soldiers' Memorial. It is the monument to all Italians fallen in the Great War - and to Antonio Sant'Elia.

Wiki text and illustrations from Sant'Elia website were used.

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Comment by Tome Wilson on December 2, 2009 at 2:13pm
I find it ironic that the fathers of Futurism, a pro-war movement, somehow always seemed to get themselves killed in a war. It's a shame these ideas never came to light. The only connected buildings I've ever seen in person were the World Trade Towers in NYC.

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