Preserving the Architectonic Legacy of Pier Luigi Nervi

ph by Matteo Cirenei

Scattered between his Italian homeland, Europe, the US and Australia, the grand legacy of the buildings imagined and created by Pier Luigi Nervi is symbolic of the excellence of technique and the art of construction. It is also emblematic of the complexity involved in the conservation, restoration and re-use of the great works of structural engineering architecture. The reasons are not solely connected with a reduction or loss of physical integrity and serviceability (an issue of material and technical fragility) but also, and sometimes prevalently, with technological change, economic demand and market constraints, associated with the growth and modification of social and cultural climate.

The exhibition “Pier Luigi Nervi: Architecture as Challenge” is therefore an opportunity to refocus attention on some of Nervi’s key works and the particularities of their building systems not only for public acclaim but to create the necessary thrust for their protection.

The research our Foundation is enabling will help shape the criteria for an inventory of those buildings to be maintained at all costs, particularly in view of the proposal to list some of Nervi’s buildings as Unesco World Heritage sites – a testament to the valuable role of Italian engineering worldwide.

The Pier Luigi Nervi Project collaborates with several scientific advisors, who are linked to internationally recognized organisations such as: International, a non-profit organization for the conservation and documentation of the Modern Movement’s architectural heritage, which is also a recognized partner of Unesco; the ICOMOS ISC Twentieth Century Heritage, which focuses its efforts on conserving and celebrating mid to late twentieth-century places that are most at risk through lack of recognition and protection; the fib, Fédération internationale du béton, a not-for-profit Foundation whose mission is to develop at an international level the study of scientific and practical matters capable of advancing the technical, economic, aesthetic and environmental performance of concrete construction.

In recent times, following an agreement with the City of Rome, the Department of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering of the Sapienza University of Rome, the Fondation PLN Project and DO.CO.MO.MO Italia applied for the Keeping It Modern international Grant promoted by the Getty Foundation – one of the most prestigious international institutions supporting the arts, architecture and conservation – to obtain support for the development of a conservation plan for the Flaminio Stadium. The research program, entitled The Flaminio Stadium by Pier Luigi and Antonio Nervi in Rome: an interdisciplinary conservation plan was officially approved on the first of June 2017 and has been developed by a team of specialists in various fields, under the supervision of an international scientific committee.

The conservation plan for the Flaminio Stadium focuses on promoting, supporting and guiding a successive project for its rehabilitation. The program is conceived as a set of design guidelines for the rehabilitation project, providing indications based on a specific understanding of the structure acquired during a campaign of analyses involving the study of historic documents and on site testing. The program has identified all structural, architectural, construction and functional elements of the building, strategically necessary to its conservation and to the restoration of its original characteristics. Research has been carried out with the prospect of restoring its original multifunctional purpose, as a stadium and sports facility, addressing current regulations and compliance requirements.

The conservation plan has been divided into four phases:

  1. History and construction;
  2. Architectural, structural and technical-constructive analysis;
  3. Changes and transformations;
  4. Guidelines for recovery and reuse.

Ultimated in 2020, the conservation plan of the Flaminio Stadium has enabled the listing of the Flaminio Stadium and sets a reference for a respectful and sustainable renovation of historic sports facilities.