Short course on Structural Assessment of Heritage Buildings

Pavia, 3-7 October 2005

Heritage buildings and particularly monumental buildings deserve special considerations when the need for structural assessments and remedial interventions arise. In fact, the principles of conservation issued by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and agreed upon by the International Charters require a careful respect for the integrity of heritage buildings and oblige avoidance of methods of investigation and interventions that might entail a loss of authenticity of the heritage building. A special technical competence together with an education in the history of architecture is required by Architects and Engineers working in such a delicate field. When the assessment and intervention involves the study of the seismic behaviour of the building and its seismic vulnerability, the task becomes far more complex and requires both a deep specific competence as well as a careful attitude. The Course aims at being a preliminary introduction to such problems, presented through a detailed description of assessment/intervention endeavours carried out on some famous monuments under the direct coordination and responsibility of the Course Coordinator.

The Course is organised into four lectures a day, delivered by four teachers, and aiming at covering the following material over five days.

  • Introductory notes on the principles of heritage conservation and ICOMOS Recommendations, on dynamic behaviour and analysis, and on problems of foundations.
  • Investigation methods and particularly the application of non-destructive methods drawing advantage from the progress in the field of electronics and informatics such as: thermography, georadars and sonic tomography; Investigations by drill coring and endoscopy; Dynamic methods of investigation on structures and their identification.
  • Seismic hazard assessment of construction sites: probabilistic (PSHA) and deterministic (DSHA) analyses. Historical and instrumental seismicity, completeness of earthquake catalogues; seismogenic zones and their description; handling the uncertainty in PSHA: the logic-tree approach.
  • Case study for the seismic hazard assessment of the archaeological site of Jam in Afghanistan. Design earthquake for the Leaning Tower of Pisa and for the Asinelli Tower in Bologna. Limits and drawbacks of PSHA at the archaeological site of Bam in Iran.
  • Case studies of monumental buildings, their diagnosis and interventions, dealing namely with, the Pavia Cathedral, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Herat and Jam Minarets and the St. Mark's bell tower in Venice.
  • A site visit to the Pavia Cathedral to study the structural strengthening. The work under progress in the Cathedral is the application of an innovative technique to the structural strengthening of the eight main pillars of the monumental church designed by Bramante in the 15th century.
  • Illustrative practical applications. The course is organised and coordinated by Prof. Giorgio Macchi, UNESCO Advisor and ICOMOS member.

Further details can be obtained by following the links below: