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Seat of the Embassy

 

Seat of the Embassy

Designed by the architect Andrea Bruno, the Embassy of Italy in Kabul consists of two distinct bodies, the Residence and the Diplomatic Chancellery, both inaugurated in 1974. The complex, built on Great Massoud Road, is the first example in Afghanistan of a structural typology (horizontal and vertical elements in reinforced concrete) that adopts modern anti-seismic criteria (by engineers Corona and Perazzone). Both buildings, laid out according to a careful conception, were designed with simple, stylized and geometric shapes, in harmony with the green of the garden.

The building of the Residence, developed on two levels, is characterized by an articulated system of elementary forms with some empty parts and others protruding, referring to the language of the postmodern movement. The floors are in local marble while the vertical surfaces are built in exposed concrete. All this seems to recall a mature phase of the Brutalism architectural style, highlighting also the important professional experience of Andrea Bruno in Afghanistan [1]. The design of the Diplomatic Chancellery’s edifice, also built on two levels, is more simplified and rational, and presents a functional layout of the offices.

The Embassy Office remained operational until January 1993 when, following the serious damage suffered as a result of the raging civil war in those years, the decision to evacuate the premises was taken. The Embassy reopened in November 2001. Substantial restoration interventions were needed, they began in 2004 and ended in 2007. In 2017, following the worsening of the security conditions in the country, important works were carried out to strengthen the perimeter and internal defenses of the Embassy, this project having been ​​designed by the architect Paolo Traversi. During the works, some buildings were incorporated into the compound where the Defense Attaché Office has moved and where the staff is residing. The premises of the consular section were also renewed and extended.

The only Catholic church in the country is located in the Embassy complex. Among the elements characterizing the compound, there is also a "Ro.37 bis" airplane from the 1930s, the subject of a recent restoration, sold by Italy to the Afghan State in 1937 and transported to the Embassy garden in 2006.

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[1] By Andrea Bruno, the following projects carried out in Afghanistan are mentioned, prior to the realization of the Embassy:

1960-63 Inventory of Afghan monuments and related restoration projects
1960-64 Safeguarding the Bamiyan Valley, restoration of the Buddha statue and construction of a hypogeal museum
1960-65 Restoration of the Mausoleum of Abdur Razaq, Ghaznì


Author:

Angelika Zytko (art historian) and Stefano Salomoni (architect)

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