CA’REDIVIVUS: Innovation


Pre-code reinforced concrete frame buildings are known for their high vulnerability to earthquake damage. On one side these buildings have been designed for gravitational loads only, thus the existence of a lateral load resisting system is aleatory, on the other side the technologic possibilities after the introduction of the reinforced concrete made it possible to build higher, and thus these buildings accommodate a large number of inhabitants. But most of the time only post-war reinforced concrete frame buildings are included in this category and consequently analysed. Here the focus will lay on historic pre-code reinforced concrete buildings, namely the ones from the first half of the XXth century.

Structural research on concrete reinforced with steel, not iron, in buildings of historical importance is rare. From this point of view the project will make a substantial advance in the state-of-the-art in the field of conservation of buildings of the Modern Movement exposed to seismic risk. It will do more than this, as it will also contribute to the related field of documentation of the Modern Movement, by analysing the distribution and the threats to this building type. It aims to bring across that multiple housing buildings can be also monuments, not just common buildings, and develop statements towards its conservation in earthquake prone zones. This is a multidisciplinary issue „par excellence“, as it implies architectural, structural, geophysical and societal aspects.  Bringing actors from many fields around a planning problem has almost become routine in urban planning and approaches for it exist in planning of new buildings, but it is rather new in building retrofit. Some attempts exist in the USA, but in architecture in Europe is different. The project will take in consideration the conclusions from the RISK-UE endeavour about European typology, but different from the geosciences-structural engineering direction will emphasise architectural, construction-technological and societal aspects. This is where multicriteria decision methods will be analysed.

The project aims to employ methods dedicated for interventions on existing buildings. This goes across the points of view of multiple disciplines, from which the retrofit is regarded. First an analysis of their value from a historical point of view will be made, by classifying them into cultural (monument) value, architectural value and environmental value. Based on this the amount of allowed interventions can be specified. The intervention amount is determined, on the other hand, by structural parameters. The dedicated method to determine it is based on structural assessment techniques. This concerns both the concepts (performance based retrofit) and the tools (software for building assessment) used. Optimisation is very limitedly supported by the adequate software, thus this will be one of the challenges in the project. Finally participation instruments for the user are of importance and more adequate here than in a new building, since the user are known. Construction technologies on existing buildings require special technologies but of different nature from those developed specially for this type of buildings at the time when they were constructed. Optimisation techniques of the building site organization are required again, support of industrial production is limitedly possible and special materials and machinery are asked. Support from the users of the building is essential, since the intervention disturbs an existing activity.

Last but not least the project opens potential for comparative studies. Comparisons can be made regarding the existence of differences in the architectural language adopted for buildings of the same typology in high and low seismicity areas, and if these were determined by the earthquake hazard or by other factors, like the urban development policies of the time. Changes induced by preservation requirements on buildings in these two areas can be compared. In certain earthquake prone regions masonry construction prevails, in others historic reinforced concrete gives the specific look of the city or are just presences in the periphery. Eventually existing attempts and distribution determined need for seismic rehabilitation can be also compared. Also the time when this type of construction reached the respective countries may vary, and thus the relationship to codes and the earthquakes affecting. For example the differences which the type reached in Italy, compared to Romania are notable. „Casa del Fascio“ in Como (architect Giuseppe Terragni, 1928/32-1936), „Casa Rustici“ (architects Giuseppe Terragni and Pietro Lingheri, 1933/35-1936) and an apartment building in Cernobbio (architect Cesare Cattaneo, 1938-1939), the Giuliani-Figerio apartment building also in Como (architect G. Terragni, 1939-1940) are some representants of Italian rationalism showing a different typology from the French reinforced concrete avant-garde buildings, like the „immeuble de logements Rue Franklin“ or the „immeuble d'habitation Rue Vavin“ (architect Henri Sauvage, 1909-1913), while buildings of Romanian Modernism come much closer to them. Despite the existing culture and both use and preservation of reinforced concrete in Greece, no renowned examples for this current there are known. The project aims a more exact assessment of specific buildings, as in the doctorate work the accent laid on idealisation and generalisation. Comparisons can be also made regarding the suitability of certain methods for buildings situated in different ranges of cultural value.