Asmara – a city and dream at the same time. The present-day capital of Eritrea was built by Italy between 1893 and 1941 and according to Mussolini’s vision – was meant to become the »Rome of Africa«. Between 1935 and 1941, Asmara became the world’s largest experimental ground for modernist-futuristic architects from Italy. Since 2017 Asmara’s city centre is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Although planned and built as an apartheid city with a clear separation of the native population from Italian citizens, Asmara today is a symbol of freedom and for many Eritreans, within and outside the country, a place of longing. Together with architectural historian Edward Denison and his decades of research and photography work, M.Bassy wants to get to know the various layers of Asmara’s significance. An evening waits, that will show how a place of European supremacy fantasies can become a place of identification and a future for many Eritreans.
Edward Denison is an Associate Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture and University College London. He is a consultant, author and photographer. In 2016, he won the RIBA President’s award for this research on ‘Asmara – Africa’s Modernist City’.
Requested as second guest for the evening: Yared Tesfai, born in Asmara. He played an instrumental part in the successful application of Asmara becoming an UNESCO World Heritage.