Mafia, Concrete, Territory: A Material History of Power in Postwar Sicily, 1945-1975

Project Description

Fabrizio Furiassi’s doctoral thesis “Mafia, Concrete, Territory: A Material History of Power in Postwar Sicily, 1945-1975” questions the role of architects and planners during Italy’s postwar building boom, identifying the Mafia’s monopoly on the industry of concrete as a key factor in the rapid urbanization of the region. With the combination of archival research, oral history, and ethnographic methods, the project analyses the transformations of the Sicilian territory by tracing the trajectory of concrete constructions to the very landscapes where the material's aggregates were sourced. Concrete is examined not as a static product but as continuous with the land and the people that shape its transition from liquid to solid. As such, the thesis centralizes the crucial agency of materials in historical and social changes, showing how the form and condition of postwar Sicily have been regulated by nontraditional actors otherwise considered external to the discipline’s discourse and practice. An introduction to the project was published in Log 53: Why Italy Now?

Supervisor:  Prof. Dr. Kenny Cupers
Co-Supervisor(s):  to be determined

Short Bio

Fabrizio Furiassi is a PhD candidate in Urban Studies at the University of Basel and a Lecturer at Parsons School of Design in New York, where he teaches architectural history/theory and design studio. He also co-leads a unit at the Architectural Association Visiting School in Seoul. Fabrizio works at the intersection of academia and practice and has over ten years of international experience at design firms and cultural institutions, including at The Commons Inc. in Montreal, Sou Fujimoto Architects in Tokyo, Obra Architects and the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery (GSAPP Exhibitions) in New York. Fabrizio graduated in architecture and urbanism from La Sapienza University of Rome (BSc and MArch), Columbia University GSAPP in New York (MSc AAD), and completed the postgraduate research program at the Strelka Institute in Moscow. He is the founder of Distributed Architecture, a New York-based research and design practice focusing on participatory design projects.

Fabrizio’s recent awards include two times the GSAPP Incubator Prize from Columbia University (2021-2022 & 2022-2023), the Architecture + Design Independent Projects Grant from the ArchLeague of NY & NYSCA (2022-2023), and the Doc.CH and the Mobility Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (2022-2026).


Fabrizio Furiassi, MSc
PhD Candidate
Urban Studies
Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Rheinsprung 21
4051 Basel