Between Istrian tradition and modern architecture
Arsia - town of autarchy and coal
Raša (formerly Arsia) was a mining town built during the period of Fascist rule in Istria (1920-1942), when the Italian government decided to establish città di fondazione (planned towns) in the style of Italian rationalism. As a kind of “pilot project”, built in only 547 days (1936-37), Raša was the first of three mining towns along with Carbonia in Sardinia (1937-38) and Podlabin (Pozzo Littorio, 1938-42), Croatia. Nominated as città dell’autarchia in 1937, Raša was supposed to sustain Mussolini’s policy of economic self-sufficiency as a response to the sanctions imposed by the League of Nations.
Fusion of rural architecture of Istria and modern architecture
The Young Italian architect Gustavo Pulitzer Finali from Trieste, of Jewish origin and with a study background in Munich, combined the knowledge acquired in Germany under modernist architect Theodor Fischer, the principles of Italian rationalism, while integrating elements of the traditional rural architecture of Istria.
From naval design to the idea of a self-sufficient community
Pulitzer was responsible for the planning of the mining settlement. As he had great expertise in naval design, the challenge for him consisted in transferring this expertise to a mining town. With the design of Raša, the architect anticipated the model of a self-sufficient community relying on local resources. A heating plant served the town with hot water. Hierarchically divided residential zones were arranged around the main square providing for all the necessary public facilities, while offering a meeting point for the different social classes.
Raša is often referred to as “Arsia Bianca“ – “White Raša”. Photographs of the time give the impression of a town in black and white. However, the use of local materials like stone, plasters, clay-brick and wood gave the town a varied tonality. Despite the limited use of colours, Pulitzer managed to create a fascinating luminosity of the interior and exterior spaces.