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Three resilient megastructures by Pier Luigi Nervi.pdf (46.3 MB)

Three resilient megastructures by Pier Luigi Nervi

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-26, 15:09 authored by Manuel Cresciani, John Forth
Resilience, as the ability of a structure to withstand threats and continue to function, is normally related to durability and performance to accepted standards over time. The resilience of a structure can be threatened by poor design, changes in the public’s perception of style, the potential for a change in use, and structural attack; catastrophic events such as fire, explosion, or impact are usually considered the main threats for resilience. In the contemporary built environment, resilience is considered increasingly important; it has, in fact, become one of the major design issues, especially for large, iconic or public and prominent structures, which has not always been the case. Following World War II (WWII), building designers faced the necessity to conceive projects within severe financial constraints, hence the proliferation of a low quality and limited life-span structures — buildings that were designed to be replaceable, cheap, and perhaps anonymous. This approach was thought to be an effective answer to quickly accommodate the large number of people moving towards the urban environment partly destroyed by the WWII. These very buildings now constitute the backbone of our urban scenery and, although some still function adequately, many are perfect examples of structures that exhibit a lack of resilience. Fortunately, a few designers refused this post-war tendency and attempted to design lasting structures of quality, most were engineers. This is not a coincidence, engineers had less to do with the issue of providing residential accommodations and more with the erection of large structures, which necessitated a higher quality control on materials and technologies: Pier Luigi Nervi was one of them. This work considers three large structures designed and built 50 years ago, in 1961, by the Italian engineer. The structures are the bus station at the George Washington Bridge in New York (USA); the Burgo Paper Mill in Mantua (Italy); and the Palace of Labour in Turin (Italy). All of these buildings are hybrid structures (concrete and steel), an unusual choice for Nervi that perhaps reflects the design climate at the time; These buildings reacted quite differently to the events that have occurred over the past half century. One of the key factors to achieve resilience it is considered to be the quality of the buildings, which includes their ability to perform maintenance. The lack of which for whatever reason, this study aims to demonstrate, will inevitably result in a weak performance in terms of resilience on the long run.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Published in

International Journal of Architectural Heritage






49 - 73


CRESCIANI, M. and FORTH, J., 2013. Three resilient megastructures by Pier Luigi Nervi. International Journal of Architectural Heritage, 8(1), pp. 49 - 73.


© Taylor & Francis


  • SMUR (Submitted Manuscript Under Review)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is an Submitted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Architectural Heritage on 02 Oct 2013, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/15583058.2012.669023






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