progetto EUR E42

EUR district and the dream of World’s Fair.

EUR district: a journey from World Fair to a Business district.

Today “Europa” is the official name of the district known as EUR; acronym, as widely known, of “Esposizione Universale Romana”. The real name, the first chosen for this area, was E42, and had to represent the new “ultramodern city” that in 1942 had to host Rome’s World Fair. The chosen date was not a coincidence; it was in fact the 20th anniversary of Mussolini’s March on Rome.

This occasion had already been celebrated in 1932 with a huge exhibition held in Rome’s Palazzo delle Esposizioni and focusing over the “Fascist revolution”, a huge success.

rivoluzione fascista 1932

1932 the “Fascist Revolution” exhibition in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni

The idea to hold a World Fair in Rome was suggested to Mussolini by Giuseppe Bottai, in June 1935. Bottai had just been appointed City Governor. The huge innovation, compared to every other previous world Fair edition, was for the buildings to be real permanent constructions. Until then in fact, every World Fair ever held always had all the pavilions and buildings dismantled when the Fair was over. In the E42 all the buildings instead, had to become the kernel of the new Rome expansion towards the sea.


The first main blueprint of the whole  E42 area, made by the same group of architects that created the “Città Universitaria” (University City), was revised by the group leader, Marcello Piacentini. Planning of each single building instead, will be appointed to various Architects after 4 different public bids starting in 1937.

progetto E42

EUR: One of the first plans for E42

The style, called metaphysical rationalism, as in reference of De Chirico’s paintings, is basically expressing an oversimplified classicism. Although based on modernity, the whole complex is, for obvious propaganda reasons, over rhetorical if compared to other contemporary Italian architecture.

By the beginning of World War II, of the many buildings planned for the EUR, only 2 had been completed. The Ente Eur offices building and the Workers Village, along Via Laurentina. Works in progress were: The “Palazzo dei Congressi”, the “Palazzo della Civiltà italiana”, the 4 museums surrounding the Imperial Square.

colosseo quadrato

EUR 1940: the “Palazzo della Civiltà italiana” just before the interruption.

Also foundations had been laid for the theater, the church, the post office and the two buildings of the exedra, the INA and INPS one. Most of the main structures of the Underground stations had also already been completed, they had to connect the World Fair with the main Termini Station, but the tunnels were just used during the war as bomb shelters.

Construction works, interrupted by the war, restarted only a few years after the war was over. 1950 saw the completion of Via Cristoforo Colombo, formerly known as Via dell’Impero.

EUR: Interrupted works are finally completed


1951 saw the completion of the other buildings. In 1955  a new EUR blueprint was made, and then, with a fully functional Underground connection, Municipality offices, corporations and ministries arrived in the district and were followed by private companies offices. With the arrival of white collars new shops started to open up for business and in the meantime some areas became residential zones.

This transitional phase into a Business District abandoned completely the rationalism style and followed instead the new “international style” to stress the modernization process of a new society.

EUR: The palazzo della civiltà italiana

The last big phase of development of the EUR happened in 1960 for the XVII Olympic Games. The new EUR in fact was chosen to host the new Sport palace, the Velodrome and the Roses swimming pool. In these years many other areas were completed, together with the artificial lake.


Rome’s EUR Olympic Velodrome. Dismantled in 2008.

More infos on FENDI’s new EUR project can be found here.

This article is also available in Italian.

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