The natural form of concrete: read, replicate and test Nervi’s structural systems Summer School
Experimental construction is a characteristic feature of concrete constructions well into the interwar period. For a long time, the concrete skeleton (Hennebique system) dominated practice; however, casting as a new production method and the old construction form were considered contradictory. Numerous designers developed new moulds from practical production. The Italian Pier Luigi Nervi with his "Ferro-Cemento" proposed one of the most groundbreaking construction methods: instead of a formwork, the concrete was placed with trowels on a wire mesh of any shape, which was fastened to carrying irons. In this way, the reinforced concrete not only detached itself from the linear skeleton shape, but also from the rigid geometry of its formwork. The cast stone was jointless, its shape completely independent. Nervi used the very slim, specially shaped elements extremely inexpensively as finished elements, as formwork, or - most impressively - as lost formwork. Material, form, construction and architectural expression are inseparably linked here. Some of the most important testimonies to this special search for form originated in the post-war years in Torino or nearby.
The summer school in Torino is co-sponsored by the Keeping It Modern grant of the Getty Foundation, that in 2019 was awarded to an international team lead by the proponents. Thus, the attendees to the school will be given the chance to understand first-hand the essence of modelled concrete and learn and address the issues related to the structural evaluation and conservation of the heritage of the twentieth century.
We will study the method of Ferrocemento by designing and producing objects in concrete ourselves. In addition, we will visit numerous masterpieces of Italian Modernism in Torino and discuss how this legacy can inspire new paths of design and regeneration.
Within the course, students from different disciplines (civil engineers, building engineers and architects) will have the opportunity to learn and elaborate on issues related to the conservation of the heritage of the twentieth century.
Through a multidisciplinary approach, students will be trained to analyze buildings belonging to this legacy, of which Torino is rich in testimonies, through teaching, recreation and entertainment activities. In particular, students will have the opportunity to learn how to read the work of Pier Luigi Nervi and its main elements in ferrocement: in the laboratory of DISEG they will reproduce elements in ferrocement that will undergo mechanical tests and measurements, to better understand not only the manufacturing process but the qualities and mechanical properties that have made it one of the most characteristic elements of one of the most famous Italian designers in the world.
The Summer School will be held in June 2021.
The Summer School is open to up to 20 Master or PhD students.
Participants will receive 3 ECTS credits upon successful completion of the program.
All the activities will be held in English.
- Frontal lessons held by various experts from different fields.
- Laboratory activities: hands-on sessions the ferrocement elements of Pier Luigi Nervi.
- Design work with tutoring.
- Site visits to the twentieth century architectural legacy of Torino.
- Social activities.
- University of Antwerp – Belgium;
- Pier Luigi Nervi Project – Belgium;
- ETH Zurich (CH);
- Getty Foundation KIM grant;
- IUAV di Venezia;
- R3C interdepartmental centre.