From mining town to living landscape museum
Once a place of massive coal production, today Carbonia seeks to rediscover, reveal, and renew its built heritage.
The town of Carbonia was founded during the autarchic period of the Italian Fascist regime. Built between 1937 and 1938, it was one of the mining towns intended to sustain Mussolini’s policy of economic self-sufficiency.
The urban design was based on the “Grande Miniera” of Serbariu. In fact, the three main axes of the town converged at the mining complex – the material and metaphorical cornerstone of the town. The main elements of the urban design are the mining complex, the residential areas, and Piazza Roma. The residential areas reflect a hierarchical division, with autonomous quarters: managers and office workers lived in the town centre, while the houses of mine workers were situated in the periphery.
Town planning and Fascism
Famous Italian architects, such as Cesare Valle, Ignazio Guidi and Gustavo Pulitzer-Finali were involved in the town planning and building design of Carbonia. Despite their different backgrounds, the town project was perfectly coherent, representing a synthesis of Fascist propaganda and aspirations.
The town centre of Carbonia is dominated by a large square – Piazza Roma – enclosed on three sides by the principal institutional buildings, such as the Fascist party building, the Lictor Tower, the OND building (community centre for the mine worker's), the town hall, the theatre, and the San Ponziano church. The fourth side opened up to the sea and the mining complex.
The restoration of its built heritage earned Carbonia the prestigious European Landscape Award 2011. An urban itinerary (CIAM Itinerary) transforming the town into an open-air museum is one of the results of this major project of cultural, historical and urban regeneration. Moreover, the restoration of the Grande Miniera of Serbariu allowed for the creation of the Museo del Carbone and the Italian Centre for Coal Mining Culture.