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Monthly ArchiveMay 2017


Let’s learn the “risk”


Earthquake figures from the 20th century tell us that there were more than 150,000 victims in Italy, the damage amounted to 120 billion euros, and to return to normality we spent 2.4 billion euros per year.


A risk si the sum of the danger union, that si, the likelihood of a catastrophic event, the vulnerability, that si, the propensity to damage, and of the explained value or of the assessment of damange.

To reduce the risk, therefore, it is necessary to reduce vulnerability by investing in prevention.

The stability of buildings depends on a number of factors:

  • STIFFNESS, that is the constant relationship between the applied force and the variation length of the material. It is expressed by a constant flexible k which varies according to the material.
  • VISCOSITY AND DUETILITY, the property of some materials that can be easily reduced to very subtle wires due to traction forces.
  • RESOLUTION, when the wavelength of the earthquake approaches the oscillation of the building

For this reason man has devised a series of building techniques that enable to deal with earthquakes easily as the reinforced concrete to deal with easily.

The reinforced concrete is made of highly compression resistent centre and highly deformation resistant iron bars, but in case of unsuitable ground resonance they also risk the collapse.

Another system is the X-reinforcement or X-frame structure, very used in Chile where the bearing structures are made of steel and high-energy earthquakes are frequent.

Finally, there are the seismic insulators, which we saw during the meeting with the Engineer Restaino and we saw them set running in the ASTOR shipyard. At present they are the best systems that enable to deal with the resonance problem that not always the reinforced concrete can handle.

Two types of insulators, elastomeric ones and sliding ones, are fitted In the buildings built by the ASTOR, named Giotto.

The first, made of natural rubber or synthetic rubber, is made up of an alternation of layers of steel and elastomer sheets, made solid by hot vulcanization processes.

The second, waden of teflon-steel, runs on flat frictional surfaces with or without lubrication; these insulators need an elasticated recoiling system after the earthquake and can be associated with flexible elastomeric insulators that perform this function.

Investing with these innovative devices in seismic areas is essential even if the costs are very high, but life is priceless!

Photovoltaic fields



Sergio Musmeci (Rome, 1926 – Rome, March 5, 1981) was an Italian engineer, well-known for his achievements in the structural field. He studied at “La Sapienza” University in Rome, where he graduated in Civil Engineering in 1948 and in Aeronautical Engineering in 1953. He began his professional career in the studies of Riccardo Morandi and Pier Luigi Nervi. In 1953 he started collaborating with architect Zenaide Zanini, Who later became his wife. Always at “La Sapienza”, in 1956 he was a professor of Rational Mechanics at the Faculty of Engineering, and in 1969 he hold the teaching of “Bridges and big Structures” in the Faculty of Architecture. As a designer, in 1970 he won one of the first six awards ex aequo at the international architecture competition callled by ANAS for the bridge over the Strait of Messina, where he proposed a single-light suspended structure with a 3,000 metres span, sustained by pylons 600 m high, with a very original space suspension system to stiffen the structure both vertically, to allow railway traffic, and horizontally to withstand wind drives and avoid the risk of derailment of trains in response to excessive deformations (the scale plastic model of the project is preserved at MAXXI in Rome). In the early seventies of the twentieth century he realized thhe Bridge on the River, in Potenza, in which he realized his theories on the structural minimum, the building is one of his most important works, which made him famous, since it took the name of MUSMECI BRIDGE. Sergio Musmeci was an artist who studied the structures by analyzing the natural figures that could to stand on their feet without any support; he was inspired by the behaviour of some bodies and shapes that formed, thus building the bridge. The bridge was built without using prefabricated elements, but directly with concrete castings. The Executing Company was the Edilstrade Forlì – Castrocaro.

Natural objects, given the extraordinary stratification of their meanings, are besides, well worthy of investigations, such as this, of an interdisciplinary nature. The spontaneous beauty of natural forms is also a goal to which it tends to; Such a beauty arises from an intimate relationship among form, materials and functions where every thickness, each color appear necessary, a sobriety made of endless subtleties, which design theorists identify in the fundamental class of formal consistency.

The observation of natural forms has always inspired design choices in architecture; from the classic theme of the winding stairs, declined in countless ancient and contemporary examples – from the admirable stairs of the Blois Castle attributed to Leonardo to the ones of Gaudi for the Sagrada Familia up to the recent Museum of Pei in Berlin – to more subtle and profound ties between architectural form and natural principle (you have only to think of all Gaudi’s late production based on a vocabulary of spontaneous static forms implicitly evoking natural objects). This kind of research, increasingly fused in the course of the twentieth century with the so-called architecture of engineers, has been carried out, even with very different languages ​​and approaches, by personalities, especially by Musmeci.

This last, in fact, was mainly inspired by figures representing the isometrics of bones and sunflowers; observing the expansion of the flower, he came to the conclusion that nature alone creates the perfect forms that can give stability with a minimum of surface.



“Form can be the means through which to solve a structural problem, it is certainly the most powerful medium and, in any case, the only one that allows the structure to visually communicate its own reality”


“To the extent it adheres to its static function, it may become a danger of communication between the architectural object and the intuitive faculty of the user”


“The Form is the unknown, not the tensions”

The Musmeci Bridge at EXPO 2015

Basilicata chose the Musmeci Bridge as its object for its relationship with the river and the urban landscape. In EXPO, in 2015 in Milan, each region had to be represented through an object that could best represent it. It took several years to design and carry out the viaduct and for those who worked at the yard it was an innovation venture.

Over the years it has been visited by mathematicians, architects and engineers from all over the world. Nothing, however, explains it better to the astonishment of the citizen who crosses it in its belly: it allows you go through the thin membranes of the viaduct, below the road and above the water.   


The heat pump

The heat pump is a thermal machine that can transfer thermal energy from a source to a lower temperature to a higher temperature source, using different forms of energy, generally electrical.

The operation of the heat pumps is equal to the operation of a refrigerator. With the difference that the refrigerator cycle is inverted. The principle is simple: From a source of natural heat (geothermal, water, air) heat is absorbed to use it for heating. A heat pump heating system consists of three elements: energy-source plant, heat pump, distribution plant and accumulator.

Principle of operating a heat pump:

1: A thermal fluid transports thermal energy

The thermal fluid circulates inside a closed circuit and has the task of carrying and transmitting thermal energy.

You wonder where does the energy gain so typical of heat pumps come from? – The answer is simple: from the evaporator!

2: The thermal fluid evaporates in the evaporator

The name of the evaporator derives from the fact that the liquid coolant fluid boils, in other words evaporates inside it at very low temperatures and in the meantime absorbs energy from the environment.

The coolant fluid is thus in a gaseous state.

3: Under pressure the gas will heat up

At this point the coolant is compressed into the compressor and decreases its volume. During this process the pressure increases and consequently the temperature of the coolant fluid. The coolant fluid circulates to the condenser.

This is an exchanger in which the energy absorbed by the environment is transmitted to the heating system.

4: The coolant cools down and absorbs heat again

In the cooling process, the heat transfer fluid flows to the liquid state. The expansion valve decreases the pressure and

the fluid absorbs heat energy from the environment again.

The cycle then starts again.


The first advantage is undoubtedly the energy efficiency, which as mentioned is high. This makes the geothermal heat pump cost-effective even in the face of greater gas cost than electricity. The economic benefits of the heat pump are bigger than the more expensive and the more energy-efficient the plants to be replaced (those with fossil fuels such as diesel and LPG for example).

A well-designed and installed geothermal system in the right conditions saves billing for about 40% of total energy consumption expenditure (if the plant is equipped with a separate counter). The combination of the heat pump to a radiant heating and cooling system guarantees energy savings of 40% to 70% compared to traditional systems. From the environmental point of view, however, the heat pump with heating function increases the use of renewable energy and thereby reduces climatic emissions.

A heat pump user is guaranteed at least the comfort of classical combustion systems, as well as unprecedented economic and energy savings and a more modern and eco-friendly home.


Those who build apartments or houses should consider the fact that a heat pump, consuming less energy than a traditional system, automatically improves the energy class of buildings, paving the way for a property revaluation and privileged access to local incentives Or national targets in an ecologically viable zero impact.


Finally, heat pump installers can finally create a unique heating, cooling and hot water plant for healthcare, thus providing greater comfort and lower operating costs.

Moreover, the goal of the European community is to be taken into account: by 2020, by 2020, reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by replacing them with completely renewable and clean energy.

In this sense, heat pumps will definitely be able to contribute, as renewable heat sources, with 60% energy efficiency compared to conventional combustion systems and no CO2 emissions at the site where they are installed.

Whenever possible, it is always advisable to install a heat pump system to replace traditional heating; This way, it is possible to eliminate combustion and achieve a higher safety standard when gas line connections or gas storage facilities are not needed, such as LPG or diesel fuel, but a simple electrical connection.

A heat pump is ultimately easy to install and is therefore an ideal solution also during the renovation of houses or flats; In these cases, problems related to the availability of space or other structural constraints (especially evident in historical centers) can be more easily resolved.

Summarizing, the two main advantages associated with heat pump heating systems are:


A heat pump is a really flexible heating system that can be tailored to individual needs each time.


A heat pump is characterized by a high energy yield; Thanks to it it is able to present lower operating costs than conventional heating systems (such as autonomous systems, electric stoves, gas stoves, pellet stoves, etc.); In addition, a heat pump can be conveniently installed in either new-built homes or in existing or refurbished dwellings.

If we want to go further, a clear indicator of the convenience of a heat pump compared to a classic system is the so-called Time Backed Time (TBA), ie the time needed to match the savings (resulting from the resulting low running costs of a pump Heat) and the initial surplus.