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AEGEAN ISLANDS

Lakki

In this small town that hardly reminds us of other Greek islands, there are imposing buildings that are lined up along the coast, an excellent street planning, several hedgerows and remarkable public parks. In the centre of Lakki, you can find the circular Agora (meaning market) with the clock, the building of the current hotel “Leros” (former Roma) with its theatre’s wing, the primary school with the circular precinct, the quite elegant old Italian customs office, the current Orthodox church of Agios Nikolaos (former Roman Catholic church of Saint Francis) and the city hall with its club. All these buildings have the following characteristics: the rationale of cubism, the total absence of ornaments and the existence of empty surfaces, as well as skylights, which were designed by pioneers belonging to the modernist movement. They were constructed by significant architects, who knew well how to combine circles with rectangular coordinates. Lakki can impress anyone who studies the early modern architecture of the 20th century. It constitutes a unique settlement network, not only for the Dodecanese, but also for the whole Europe, since there are only another two cities in this continent that are designed according to the same style: Saubadia in Italy and Weissenhof in Germany.

 

The town of the Italian rationalism

Before the annexation of Leros to Italy in 1912, Lakki used to be a modest fishing village. However, it had one strategic asset: it had the biggest natural harbor in the East Mediterranean Sea. When the fascist regime of the neighboring country started developing its colonial expansionist ideas, the admirals of Mussolini placed the area in the centre of their attention. In this way, the biggest planning intervention of Italians to the Dodecanese occurred thus creating initially a naval base and, then, a brand new city that was named Porto Lago. According to the plans that were implemented by the Italians in Lakki, the basic functions of the city (administration, market, services, culture and leisure) were put in the centre of the urban web. They also formed residence zones circumferentially for their officers, the civilian personnel, as well as their families. The architects R. Petracco and A. Bernabiti managed to successfully combine the Mediterranean rationalism with futurism, creating a proper urban planning and an original architectural creation. This achievement was never recognized due to the appropriation of this original movement by fascism.

 

*Sources: V. Kolona, Italian architecture in the Dodecanese (1912-1943), ed.: Olkos.

www.akx.gr

 

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