Industrial mining town in transformation
The modern part of Labin (Pozzo Littorio, today Podlabin) is a mining town built between 1938 and 1942, during the period of Fascist rule in Istria, when the Italian government decided to establish città di fondazione (planned towns) in the style of Italian rationalism.
The town consisted of three zones: a central square (today Square of the Miners of Labin), a residential zone (settlement houses) and an industrial zone Pijacal, all displaying representative examples of this architecture.
Eugenio Montuori was responsible for the plan of the town of Podlabin. The young architect had already gained experience from the planning of the new towns in Italy (Sabaudia, Aprilia, Carbonia). Montuori drew up a plan in which the shape of buildings, chiefly horizontal lines, porticoes and light color shades created a harmonious mediterranean atmosphere integrated in the surrounding landscape.
The industrial zone was designed by the STUARD team, drawing on the experience made during the planning of the industrial complex in nearby Rasa under Gustavo Pulitzer Finali. In all probability, Pulitzer, who was of Jewish origins, was not involved in planning Pijacal as he had escaped to the United State due to the racial laws.
The town of Podlabin is a prime example of the città di fondazione of the Italian Fascist regime, thus a symbol of the Fascist ideology and an explicit manifestation of the party`s might. However, it was primarily built in order to meet the expanding mine’s accommodation needs. Other industrial towns from a later period are Dimitrovgrad (Bulgaria), Eisenhüttenstadt (Germany) and Nowa Huta (Poland).
Today, thanks to various projects, much of Podlabin’s dissonant heritage is being restored, e.g. the residential houses and industrial buildings. The restoration of the abandoned industrial complex involves a process of finding new meanings and new uses for the buildings. The former mining town is being transformed into a “mine of culture”, ready to elaborate its heritage.