The Aeronautical Base Gianni Rossetti of the Italian regime in Leros

A study on the palimpsest of institutionalism

Authored by: Georgia Gkratsou , Amalia Kotsaki

The Routledge Companion to Italian Fascist Architecture

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367348519
eBook ISBN: 9780429328435
Adobe ISBN:


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The political turbulences of the Civil War (1946–49) and the Military Junta (1967–74) in Greece, as a continuation of World War II tribulations, led to the formation of a network of “spaces of exception”, for disciplinary as well as “national reformation” uses. These spaces, given the government’s lack of resources, accommodated a variety of correctional functions during the 20th century, thus acquiring a rich historical background that reflects the internationally and nationally dominant ideology related to institutionalism of that time. Now places of memory and reference, those areas have been architectural sites in which, even today, the terror of the asylum and uncanny architecture are dominant. This chapter studies the creation and the historical background of one such space in Greece: the complex of the former Aeronautical Base Gianni Rossetti of the Italian Fascist regime on the island of Leros, in the Dodecanese. The successive transformations of the complex from military quarters to technical school orphanage, asylum and prison constitute a palimpsest with temporal connections to the concept of institutionalism. The chapter aims to approach and explain how architectural space, landscape and organization can become instruments at the service of an institution’s power of manipulating and reshaping individual and collective memory.

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