Last March 30 the exhibition “Pier Luigi Nervi and football stadiums. A successful model” opened to the public at the Chiesa dello Spirito Santo in Cesena, Italy. The exhibition features a special installation containing a central core of 10 projects selected from among the architect’s planned and built football stadiums, starting with “Giovanni Berta” stadium in Florence (1929-32). The building in Florence was the first to focus the country’s attention on Pier Luigi Nervi, giving physical form to the perfect synthesis of technology and aesthetics, a typical feature of the Italian engineer and architect’s approach to design.
An extraordinary designer, theorist, lecturer, constructor and businessman, Pier Luigi Nervi was one of the protagonists of 20th Century architecture and engineering whose rich documentary archive is conserved in the MAXXI Architettura Archives Centre. From the “Giovanni Berta” civic stadium in Florence (1929-32) to the Kuwait Sports Center (1968-69), sports facilities and stadiums represent a perfect opportunity to trace the evolution of Nervi’s design philosophy and his construction methods, focusing on the very close relationship between technology and aesthetics, between constructional sincerity and beauty in a built work.
Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979) was probably one of the few able to summarize the two figures – which have long been radically distinct, in training and professional skills – the engineer and the architect, and that was one of the key factors for the success of his work, in which the ability to invent new forms is intimately connected with the knowledge of their tectonic and constructive aspects. This professional engineer-architect profile was built over the years of study at the University of Bologna, during which the features that support the Nervi´s frame of thought were defined: historical consciousness, a interdisciplinary approach, a courageous willingness to experiment and deep knowledge of the reality of technical progress. The design philosophy of Nervi is based on operational experience and intuition, with a constant attention to the relationship between structure and form: in his works the structural grammar is of central importance both in terms of efficiency and aesthetics. The building beauty comes from architectural constructive sincerity.
This perfect combination of technique and aesthetics produced extraordinarily expressive architectures, in which every part was designed in harmonious accord with the internal forces of structure. The first building that materialized admirably these ideas and brought him national prominence was the municipal stadium “Giovanni Berta” in Florence (1929-32). And it was a project for a stadium – more precisely, two buildings for sports- that meant Nervi´s international consecration: the sports facilities for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome (Palazzo dello Sport, with M. Piacentini; Flaminio stadium and velodrome, with A. Nervi; palazzetto dello Sport, with A. Vitellozzi), which with the help of television became admired throughout the world, spreading abroad the fame of the Italian engineer and becoming the eloquent image of modernity of his work.
Planning and technical research on football stadiums is therefore a common link in various experiments explored over the decades. The evolution of ideas and of the ability of Pier Luigi Nervi´s method of construction entailed “a model of success”, and became an essential reference for contemporary architecture and engineering.
The research on Pier Luigi Nervi´s stadiums had its origin in a series of initiatives and seminars that have been taking place since 2008 between Parma Urban Center e Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione (CSAC) with the research areas of the universities of Parma, Bologna and Ferrara. The multiannual work has produced two significant results: a systematic search and clasification of drawings of the stadiums preserved in l’Archivio Nervi at CSAC and the organization of the international congress “Cantiere Nervi. La costruzione di una identità” (“Nervi building workshop. The construction of an identity “), held in November 2010 at the University of Bologna, Ferrara, Parma, which was attended by dozens of scholars and hundreds of students.
From these premises the research project “Pier Luigi Nervi and football stadiums. A successful model” was born, sponsored by the Department of Architecture (DA) and the Department of Civil Engineering, Chemistry, Environmental and Materials (DICAM) of the School of Architecture and Engineering, University of Bologna, which involved over the years a number of prestigious Italian and international institutions (among others, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University, USA; University of Florence, the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the Foundation Ceur – European Centre for University and Research;the School of City and Land Studies of the University of Bologna; MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome) and brought together the documentation found in various archives (CSAC -Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione, Parma;Historical Archive of the City of Florence; MAXXI Architecture Archives Centre, Rome; Archive “Ing.-Arch. Cesare Valle, Rome; Archive Studio Marino-Ruberto, Messina; Archive of the City of Novara).To present the results of the research, it was decided to organize a traveling exhibition, curated by Micaela Antonucci, Annalisa Trentin (DA) and Tomaso Trombley (DICAM).
The initiative has been recognized by the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic as well as the sponsorship of the Italian Football Federation, of Pier Luigi Nervi Research and Knowledge Management Project Brussels, Institute for the Artistic Cultural and Natural – Region Emilia Romagna and the Municipality of Bologna. The exhibition aims to reconstruct the creative and constructive process of the Italian engineer illustrating Nervi´s projects for stadiums in Italy and abroad, through the extensive heritage of drawings and archived materials, accompanied by three-dimensional graphics and constructive models of the most significant projects created especially for this occasion by LaMo and LaMoViDA (Laboratory of Architecture and Models Laboratory of Modeling and Digital Visualization for Architecture of the University of Bologna, based on Cesena).
The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of the book “Pier Luigi Nervi. The stadiums for football”, edited by Micaela Antonucci, Annalisa Trentin, Tomaso Trombley, published by Bononia University Press (Bologna 2014). The exhibition was conceived as an itinerant show in order to be settled in the various institutions involved: Bologna (14.11.2014- 01.14.2015), Cesena (31.03-30.04 2015), Florence (05.05-05.06.2015), Ravenna (September 2015), Rome – MAXXI (December 2015- March 2016).
“Pier Luigi Nervi and football stadiums. A successful model”
Chiesa dello Spirito Santo
Via Milani, Cesena
from 30/03/2015 to 30/04/2015
News Source: Archiportale