Silvia Malcovati
Polytechnic of Turin – Department of Architecture and Design


Proposed on the occasion of the First Congress of the Soviet writers in Moscow in 1934, the notion of realism coming about in the theoretical debate on architecture in the early thirties of the twentieth century appears to be an ambiguous notion, straddling between idealism and ideology, innovative research and historicist formalism. The failure of socialist realism and the crisis of its emphatic and monumentalist architectural imagery, clearly shows the utopian character of the realist “dream,” but also, in some ways, its imaginative power of striving to build a better world. After the Second World War the question of realism comes into discussion again. Especially in Italy realism turn into an alternative to the modern paradigm, no less utopian, but open for the emerging postmodern American ideas as well as for the architecture of the “Tendenza.” The paper proposes a survey on the twentieth century realisms as an instrument of reflecting the current state of architecture: after the excesses of the postmodern populism, the disillusionment of the “Architettura Razionale” and the dialectics of reconstruction – deconstruction, a new spectre of “Realism” as a way to react to the current architectural and urban condition seems to emerge in architecture again.

utopia, realism, italian architecture of the post-war period, “tendenza”, postmodernism, new realism, architecture of the city



SAJ Vol. 6, 2014, No. 2