Tag Archives: Pier Luigi Nervi

Pier Luigi Nervi. Aesthetics and Technology in Building: the Twenty-First-Century Edition | University Of Illinois Press | 2018

In 2017 Cristiana Chiorino has been the editor with Elisabetta Margiotta Nervi and Thomas Leslie, for the new edition of the Norton Lectures given by Pier Luigi Nervi in 1965 in Harvard, Aesthetics and Technology in Building: The Twenty-First-Century Edition. Nervi was invited to deliver one-third of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures in Poetry at Harvard in 1961-62, along with fellow designer/engineers Felix Candela and Buckminster Fuller.  The Norton Lectures had a long tradition of inviting both traditional poets, and artists whose work evoked poetry, but that year’s invitees were particularly striking.  Could engineers be considered poets?  In an era of profound optimism about technology’s prospects, this was an inspired choice.This new edition introduces Nervi’s ideas about architecture and engineering to a new generation of students and admirers. More than 200 photographs, details, drawings, and plans show how Nervi put his ideas into practice. Expanding on the seminal 1961 Norton Lectures at Harvard, Nervi analyzes various functional and construction problems. He also explains how precast and cast-in-place concrete can answer demands for economy, technical and functional soundness, and aesthetic perfection. Throughout, he uses his major projects to show how these now-iconic buildings emerged from structural truths and far-sighted construction processes. This new edition features a new introduction and essays by Joseph Abram and Alberto Bologna on Nervi’s life, work, and legacy, a center spread of new images by German photographer Hans-Christian Schink shows Nervi’s roof patterns in a new light, and an essay by Roberto Einaudi, who served as Nervi’s translator for the lectures, offers previously unpublished details about how these came about and how they became Aesthetics and Technology in Building.

Client: University of Illinois Press

Year: 2018


The traveling exhibition: Pier Luigi Nervi. Art and Science of Building | 2013 – 2018

Who is Pier Luigi Nervi?

Pier Luigi Nervi

Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979) was one of the greatest and most inventive structural engineers of the 20th century.  With his masterpieces, scattered the world over, Nervi contributed to create a glorious period for structural architecture.  Nikolaus Pevsner, the distinguished historian of architecture, described him as “the most brilliant artist in reinforced concrete of our time”. Nervi shared the cultures of architects and engineers, operating at the very intersection between the art and the science and technology of building.  Like many of his predecessors in the early years of development of reinforced concrete technique at the dawn of the century, his personality comprised many facets, including designer, builder, researcher and creator of new construction techniques.  He was also a professor and lecturer in prestigious universities around the world and the author of books debating the conceptual and technological fundamentals of construction, with particular regard to concrete construction. He has been described as having an engineer’s audaciousness, an architect’s imagination, and a businessman’s practical realism.  His use of the most advanced technical solutions was always accompanied not only by the pursuit of formal elegance, but also by an equally strong attention to the technical and economic aspects of the building process.

Why an exhibition on Pier Luigi Nervi?

Internationally esteemed and praised during his lifetime, after his death in 1979 the work of Pier Luigi Nervi fell into a period of oblivion and it is only in recent years that extensive research into his work has recommenced. In 2010, to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Nervi’s death, an international itinerant exhibition was developed. This work marks the outcome of a multifaceted research project that assembled a vast team of scholars, with the aim of retracing the variegated legacy of Nervi’s oeuvre. The result is a complex historical fresco in which Nervi’s revolutionary construction techniques are closely linked with Italian and international social and political development, coupled with an exploration of the rich world of cultural and scientific relationships in which Nervi moved.

For whom?

After the successes of previous editions, the exhibition was transformed in 2014 in a light format and it will embark in a wide international tour towards other prospective locations in Asia, North America and other parts of the world to celebrate not only the genius and inventiveness of Pier Luigi Nervi, but also his genuine international spirit, as a designer, builder and educator. Such an extended analysis and critical appraisal of Nervi’s work is expected to offer a significant contribution and new hints to the present debate on the role of formal inventiveness in the design of structures and, in a broader perspective, to the dialogue between architecture and engineering. The itinerant exhibition “Pier Luigi Nervi. Art and Science of Building” is a project coordinated by Comunicarch Associates on behalf of Pier Luigi Nervi Research and Knowledge Management Project, headquartered in Brussels.  The exhibition is the new light version of the International Exhibition, Pier Luigi Nervi. Architecture as Challenge. By an agreement with PLN Project Association, Comunicarch Associates is the coordinator of the intercontinental circuit of this exhibition.

The exhibition has been hosted in Wroclaw in 2013 during the Symposium of International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS, 2013), in St Gallen at the Architektur Forum Ostschweiz (2015), in Buenos Aires during the 24° Jornadas Argentinas de Ingeniería Structural (2016) and in Perth at the QV1 by Harry Seidler (2017). The exhibition is now travelling in North America: Philadelphia. ACI convention (2016), University of  Miami (2017) and Lehigh University in Bethheem (2018), Norfolk (2021-2022) and Montreal (2021-2022).

Exhibition specifications

  • 20 panels (photos, high-resolution color reproductions of drawings, and texts) to be printed on site on convenient cheap supports by the hosting institution. Texts in  are English. Translation into local language, if required, shall be provided by the hosting institution.Nervi exhibition
  • 1 video on Nervi’s life and work

Pier Luigi Nervi – parcours d’une vie from Pier Luigi Nervi Project on Vimeo.

  • 13 very effective recently prepared videos of the production process of the reduced scale 3D models of  Nervi’s major projects analyzed in detail in the exhibition produced by NerViLab (Nervi Virtual Lab) group of the Università La Sapienza in Rome  These videos are highly recommended as substitutes of real 3D models.

Video aula nervi – Small from Studio Associato Comunicarch on Vimeo.

Supplemental: exhibition catalogue, educational and promotional resources

Guidelines for hosting the exhibition:

The following guidelines will take you through the process and budget estimation for hosting the exhibition: Download guidelines in pdf

Questions? Contact Cristiana Chiorino, Scheduling and Exhibitor Relations office at cristiana.chiorino@comunicarch.it

Pier Luigi Nervi exhibition | Budapest University of Technology | 2016

In 2016 the Faculty of Architecture in collaboration with the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics brought the exhibition “Pier Luigi Nervi. Art and Science in Building” to Budapest.

The venues:

  • from 21 March, 2016 at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  • from 5 to 24 May at FUGA Budapest Center of Architecture

Link to the exhibition

The traveling exhibition is a project presented by Comunicarch on behalf of Pier Luigi Nervi Research and Knowledge Management Project (PLN).

Besides the exhibition the Budapest University has started a research on Nervi’s influence on the development of Hungarian concrete shell structures. The result of this work will be presented in a joint exhibition at FUGA, titled: “Frozen Modernity’ – The Heyday of Hungarian Shell Structures”.


Client: Budapest University of Technology

Project leader: Cristiana Chiorino

Period: March 2016

EPFL – Lausanne | Conservation of 20th century engineering | 2016

Cristiana Chiorino, partner of Comunicarch Associates, has contributed to « La sauvegarde des grandes œuvres d’ingénierie du XXème siècle », by Franz Graf and Yvan Delemontey, the  first issue of the Cahiers du TSAM, Techniques et Sauvegarde de l’Architecture Moderne dedicated to the conservation of the 20th century’s great works of engineering, aims to explore the future of some of the most remarkable and emblematic concrete structures of the previous century. Through the personalities of the heroic builders, this publication aims to consider what the engineers – the most daring of whom (Freyssinet, Isler, Maillart, Nervi, Vierendeel, etc.) are represented here – bequeathed to the century. While the conservation of 20th century architecture has in recent years been seen as a discipline in its own right, the conservation of 20th century engineering is still in its infancy. Considered too offen purely from the point of view of security or maintenance, these works are now often seen as true masterpieces, cutting edge achievements of the “engineer’s art”, as stunning for their plastic beauty as for their technical performance. This publication provides an opportunity to stimulate, with reference to concrete examples and projects, an awareness of the heritage challenges to be addressed in the field of engineering. ppur.org

An important review of the book can be read on Le Monde blog.

Nervi’s Sport Palace | The Olympic Museum – Lausanne | 2013

The Olympic Museum in Lausanne reopened its doors to the public on December 2013, after 23 months of work during which the new Museum has been entirely revamped. In the permanent exhibition we have contributed to the section “Architecture” in which a model of the Palazzetto dello Sport designed by Pier Luigi Nervi for the Olympic games of Rome 1960 is on show with some original pictures and a descriptive text.







Rome 1960

Pierre de Coubertin long dreamed of seeing the Olympic Games held in the Eternal City, a dream which eventually became reality in the summer of 1960.

While some vestiges of ancient Rome – such as the Baths of Caracalla or the Maxentius – were used for the occasion, brand new sports infrastructure was also constructed in record time. Benefitting from exceptional media coverage, thanks to television being used for the first time, the “new” Rome – reconstructed after the War – was thus revealed to the whole world.

Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979), an engineer, architect and businessmen who, starting in the 1930s, developed exceptional mastery of concrete, created the architectural symbolism of the Rome Games, with the design of four structures: the Palazzetto dello Sport (in collaboration with architect Annibale Vitellozzi), the Flaminio Stadium, the Sports Palace (in collaboration with architect Marcello Piacentini) and the Corso Francia viaduct. Produced in only four years, these projects, with their corrugated or ribbed lines and moulded pillars, combine classical shapes and technological innovation.

The Palazzetto dello Sport

The Palazzetto dello Sport is the most famous symbol. Its circular shape reflects that of a pantheon.

Its creation was originally entrusted by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) to architect Annibale Vitellozzi: it was his remit to design a medium-sized, inexpensive sports arena prototype to be reproduced in every Italian city. Vitellozzi turned to Pier Luigi Nervi to find a structurally optimal solution to create the huge span of the roof. The project developed was both simple and audacious: a 60-metre wide dome is supported by sloping buttresses placed on a 78-metre-diametre exterior circular rim. The whole supporting structure is made of reinforced concrete.

The field of play, raised above ground level, is surrounded by crescent-shaped stands. The meticulously ribbed roof is composed of 1,620 pre-fabricated elements of 19 different sizes, created using a system patented by Nervi.

It took only a little more than a year and an investment of some 200 million Lira (USD 14,000) to produce the Palazzetto dello Sport, in which, in the stifling heat of the Roman summer, the basketball matches and weightlifting competitions of the 1960 Olympic Games took place.

Client: Pier Luigi Nervi Project

Period: 2013

Project leader: Cristiana Chiorino