Knowledge and technical culture to inform the preservation of reinforced concrete. Examples from Canton Ticino.

Mosca, Cristina and Jean, Giacinta and Caroselli, Marta and Bologna, Alberto (2021) Knowledge and technical culture to inform the preservation of reinforced concrete. Examples from Canton Ticino. Luciano Edizioni.

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Abstract

The Canton of Ticino is characterised by a strong presence of architecture in exposed concrete, a material widely used for the construction of infrastructures, large buildings and single-family houses. The conservation of these buildings has been a recurring problem for several years now, and one that is not easy to solve, as shown by the many interventions that have failed even a brief test of time. Technical choices in this field are not easy because they depend on an analysis of the construction history of the works, on a complex diagnosis, on the recurrent impossibility of removing the cause of deterioration, on the choice of compatible materials and their correct application. Last but not least, the technical choices must respect the surface qualities of the building which, especially for works of cultural value and architectural significance, are an integral part of the message that is to be preserved and transmitted. This article presents the specialist consultancy work carried out by the Institute for Materials and Construction (IMC) of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) in support of designers and public bodies who have to undertake repair or restoration work on buildings in exposed concrete. The work carried out by the professionals active within the IMC aims to improve the technical culture to inform interventions on existing buildings, which still has to face some substantial difficulties. For example, there is a reduced propensity to invest in diagnostic investigations, without recognising their value for implementing design decisions, or the tendency of designers to turn directly to manufacturers for the choice of materials. In order to protect the original material as much as possible, a difficult compromise is always sought between reducing the number of samplings and obtaining the data necessary to characterize the structures and by trying to develop, as far as possible, non-destructive investigation methods. As an example, the case studies of Rino Tami's Il Cardo building (1956) and Aurelio Galfetti's Villa Ortensia (1974-75) are discussed, where the data obtained from the diagnostic activity were fundamental in orienting and defining the subsequent interventions.

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