Angiolio Mazzoni was a famous Italian architect and engineer, who applied principles and methods of Futurism and Constructivism in his structures. The peak of his activity was in the period between wars, 1920s – 1930s.
Angiolio Mazzoni was born in Bologna on May 21, 1894 in a family of a functionary in the Ministry of Post and Telegraph. In 1905 they moved to Rome, where up to 1910 Angiolo attended the Istituto Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci. At that time the future architect had his first encounter with Futurism.
In 1914 Mazzoni enrolled the Scuola di applicazione per ingegneri in Roma, from which he graduated as a civic engineer in 1919. In 1915 and 1919 the young man served as a military engineer in Bologna. In 1921 Angiolo was appointed an assistant in various disciplines at that school: the elements of building, general architecture, architectural technique. After graduating, he also attended for a year a studio of an architect and urban theoretician Marcello Piacentini.
In April 1921 Angiolo Mazzoni set off for Milan, where he worked as an engineer for the Special Section of Railway Workers, yet in 6 months he was sent back to Bologna. There the architect made his first projects: the station of Borgo San Donnino in the town of Fidenza (near Parma) and apartment blocks for the railwaymen in Bologna. Mazzoni didn’t abandon education and entered the local Academy of Fine Arts, where received the diploma in architecture in two years.
Angiolo was successful in making his career: in 1922 he was accepted to the Ferrovie dello Stato (a government-owned company that have been managing Italian railroads till nowadays). In a short while he was appointed to the Ministry of Communications and settled in Rome. He continued working over designs of structures for railroad and post-service along all Italy (station in Brennero, the palaces of Post-Office in La Spezia and Trento, Palermo and other cities).
Public structures were in the center of Mazzoni’s attention: they allowed him to apply the grandiose and rational architectural forms, like we can see in the summer camp Rosa Maltoni Mussolini in Calambrone for the kids of workers of post and telegraphic service and railroad workers, designed in 1925 – 1926. Angiolo was inspired with ancient roman architecture in it, though deeply recycled it – the column in front of the main building reminds of the Trajan’s triumphal column with its spiral composition.
Among Italian centers, where Angiolo Mazzoni worked, was Florence – there he the heating plant and main controls cabin (planned 1927 – 1929) for Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station. The architect believed it to one of his major achievements. Its almost plain simplicity and monumental volumes were emphasized by the red plaster on the exterior, pendent balconies and spiraling stairs, brought outside. All in all, the building’s look corresponded to the ideas of the second wave of futurism in the end of 1920s.
Some of the projects the master did in collaboration with other architects: for instance, Efisio Vodret was his partner in creating the complex of apartments for the railwaymen and “dopolavoro” club on the Bari street in Rome.
In January 1926 Angiolo Mazzoni joined the National Fascist Party. Having influential connections in the fascist government, he was awarded with Order of the Crown of Italy on May 24, 1926. In 1932 he met Tommaso Marinetti, who prompted him to join the neofuturistic movement a year later.
The master was one among those, who signed the Futuristic Manifesto of Aerial Architecture, published in 1934. Angiolo was one of the popularizers of the movement. He actively involved its main artists, like Tato, Fillia, Sironi, Depero, Prampolini and others in decorating post-offices in Trento, Gorizia, Palermo and Bergamo.
Angiolo Mazzoni’s style was defined by the accent on color and variety of materials, applied in the buildings – from red plaster in already mentioned heating plant and main controls cabin in Florence and the ultramarine ceramic trimming of the post office in Sabaudia.
Yet, it would be incorrect to reduce the architect’s heritage only to the Futuristic visual language. Mazzoni always correlated features of his designs with its purposes and expectations of a commissioner: some governmental orders had a clear classicistic flavor (it’s enough to mention a colonnade around the pool in the atrium in the post-office of Ostia), whereas the others were more vanguard, like the post-office of Littoria, known for its giant semi-circular grated glass volumes on the façade.
The defeat of Fascism after World War II. Angiolo Manzzoni’s close relations with former government dramatically complicated his further career. Being accused in supporting the regime, the master decided to leave the country. Luckly, in 1947 he received an invitation from Gustavo Santos, brother of Columbian ex-president, to take a chair at the National Columbian university in Bogota at the department of architecture and urbanistics. He was a professor of architecture there for two years, to the end of 1950. Mazzoni also was a consultant in building of the Ibagué-Armenia railroad.
The architect turned into an important person in then-contemporary building art of the country. One can realise Mazzoni’s impotrancy, as he was known there as Ángelo Masón de Grande – Angiolo Mazzoni the Great. He was engaged in numerous urbanistic projects, like the railroad in the Columbian capital (1948 – 1951), monument to the heroes (1952), created in cooperation with another Italian refugee – sculptor Ludovico Consorti. Using his previous experience from Italy, Angiolo also produced plans for numerous post- an telecommunication offices (the first one for the city of Buga, in colonial style).
Very significant part of the commissions the architect completed in 1950s were made by church. Angiolo Mazzoni made the plan of restauration of the church of San Francisco d’Assisi built in the 15th cent. He was also the author of the design of the Catedral Metropolitana María Reina de Barranquilla (1955) that totally differs from traditional ecclesiastic architecture.
On May 28, 1963 Angiolo Mazzoni returned to Italy, as his wife’s health worsened. He led a quiet, rather solitary life in Rome until the death on September 28, 1979.