Lakki - The Rationalist Gem on a Greek Island

Tucked away in the Aegean sea, the Greek island of Leros hides beautiful examples of Italian rationalist architecture

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Lakki is a city frozen in time here in the middle of the Aegean sea, where an extraordinary example of Italian rationalist architecture has nearly been forgotten. The Greek port city of Lakki sits on the island of Leros, one of the few places in the world featuring Italian fascist and rationalist architecture. Under colonial control, the city was used as an Italian naval and air base back in the 1930’s by the name Portolago, in honor of then governor, Mario Lago.

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To transform the uninhabited area in a logical and functioning community, modernist architects Armando Bernabiti and Rodolfo Petracco were called in to create the ideal rationalist city. They would go on to give form to a one of a kind mashup between Italian rationalism with hints of Art Deco and Byzantine details.

Floating in the Aegean among the Dodecanese islands, this ideal city was articulated around two large squares, one in the heart of the urban center and another along the beach. Connecting the two open spaces, in a nod to the Romans, was a sort of Cardo, intersected by the Decumanus in addition to two other cross streets.

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The city was laid out according to the various urban functions developed over macro areas, from the commercial to the residential with scholastic, religious, and recreational structures in between.

Among the most representative structures of the city is Rodolfo Petracco’s central market, with its circular form and clock tower, it became one of the most important buildings of the early Modern movement. With concentric circles and structural solutions that evoke ancient details and future leanings, the market is truly one of a kind. Other buildings from the mind of Petracco include the community daycare, with its high arches, and the local school.

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Completing the rationalist landscapes of Lakki, are a series of buildings designed by Bernabiti and Petracco as offices. Constructions boasting cubic elements broken by long windows and asymmetrical terraces, distributed according to the golden ratio, an endeared attribute in the symbols of Italian rationalism like the Casa del Fascio by Giuseppe Terragni in Como.

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