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Had Le Corbusier’s sketch for the colonial capital of Addis Ababa been realized, it would have been one of the most ruthlessly planned cities of the twentieth century. On the 19th of August 1936 (a mere three months after the conquest of Addis Ababa), Le Corbusier wrote to Mussolini to offer his technical services and to comment on the appropriate design for the new cities of Africa Orientale Italiana, the Italian colonial empire. The design, which accompanied the letter, would show “how a city for modern times is born”, as the famous architect put it.
Like other Italian architects occupied with the designs for the new empire, Le Corbusier considered Ethiopia to be an architectural playground. The new country, considered by Mussolini’s architects to be a ‘virgin fantasy’ waiting to be transformed into Italian territory, was nothing less than the articulation of the ultimate ability to plan a society. […]