• Datum Antique: Giuseppe Pettazzi's Fiat Tagliero Building

Architects: Giuseppe Pettazzi  
Location: Asmara,  Eritrea
Interior Décor: Giuseppe Pettazzi
Project Year: 1938
Photographer: Eric Lafforgue, Various

Current Owner: Kahsai Haile Futur

The Fiat Tagliero Building in Asmara, described as "probably the world's most beautiful petrol station, and also one of the world's supreme examples of Futurism"   Justin Hill, Eritrean Timewarp

The Tagliero building is at best the eccentric product of a relatively ambitious architect from Italy who sort to visualize the essence of transit architecture. It sits in a quaint street in Asmara, with ambitious spread canopies that extend a ridiculous depth outwards from the main small building, a concept in aviary exaltation. It is an exercise in finding the balance between what the 1930s engineering could achieve and the pseudo-modern tendencies that had gripped the country at the time.

Datum Antique's Giuseppe Pettazzi's Fiat Tagliero Building

From the beginning conceived as a simple petrol station, Pettazzi designed a building that resembles an aeroplane. The building consists of a central tower which incorporates the office space and cashiers desk and shop. The tower supports a pair of 15m cantilevered wings, which are built in reinforced concrete and are structurally unsupported.

Datum Antique's Giuseppe Pettazzi's Fiat Tagliero Building

Although this was Petazzi's original design, local authorities at the time insisted that each wing should be supported by pillars. This was believed to be a local myth, until proved when the original plans were found in 2001. Another urban legend states that Pettazzi settled the argument by holding a revolver to the main builder's head, threatened to kill him if they did not remove the supports. In the end the supports were removed and the wings held, just as they do today.

Datum Antique's Giuseppe Pettazzi's Fiat Tagliero Building

The building is still structurally sound after 75 years. It has not been damaged during the numerous conflicts that affected the Horn of Africa during the twentieth century, and so it stands today. The building was restored in 2003, and is Category I listed in Eritrea. This means that no part of the building may be adjusted in any way.


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