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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.   


Alessia Matera


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