There is a special bond that unites the great engineer Eiffel with Labico, a small town south of Rome. But who was Eiffel and how do the two stories intertwine?
Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel was one of the greatest engineers ever, known throughout the world for one of his masterpieces: the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. He was born in France in Dijon on December 15, 1832 of a family of German origin. Their original surname was Bönickhausen and they changed it to Eiffel in honour of the Eifel mountains.
After becoming an engineer, one of his first tasks was to build a bridge in the French railways and he immediately proved to be a daring designer. An artist of structures capable of uniting two disciplines: architecture and engineering.
His absolute masterpiece, however, was a structure built for the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition, a tower that was to be the symbol of the event. A tower so intriguing, modern in its sinuous lines and in the use of structural steel that it was decided not to disassemble it and that since then took the name of its designer: the Eiffel Tower.
A masterpiece of engineering to the point that with its 312 meters height it was the tallest construction built by man until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built in New York.
Since then, the idea of modernity and of man’s challenge to nature has moved to the United States, but in Paris the Eiffel Tower is increasingly transformed into a poetic identity element thanks to its sinuousness.
And even if, today, Paris is immediately recognized at a glance, it is thanks to the forms of its tower that are known to virtually all the inhabitants of the planet earth.
But Eiffel has created many other structures including the engineering of the Statue of Liberty in America and part of the work of the Panama Canal. He then opened a construction company that built bridges, viaducts and many large infrastructures and took care of the aerodynamics of airplanes and airships thanks to its wind tunnel.
But alongside these great works, the Eiffel company made many small buildings always characterized by an artistic use of iron according to a style that was then called the architecture of engineers.
These buildings were built in many parts of the world including as two exhibition pavilions in South America: one in Lima in Peru and the other in Quayaquil in Ecuador. These pavilions were built from 1905 to 1907 and later hosted two exhibitions.
The pavilion that was in Lima after incredible and fortuitous events was dismantled to make room for a reinforced concrete structure.
The pieces were sold and bought by an Italian businessman and now these disassembled parts are located on a farm in Labico.
The cast-iron and steel structure is 150 meters long by 15 wide and 8 meters high and there are only a few original photos from that period.
For a certain period on its arrival, this structure attracted the attention of many local administrators, including the former mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni, but today it is still waiting for its final location.
In the meantime, we continue to dream of seeing this covered pavilion of Eiffel rebuilt and, why not, we can dream of a twinning between Labico and Paris.