Pier Luigi Nervi: Project and Structure


The Irish Architectural Archive and the Italian Institute of Culture Dublin currently have an exhibition that celebrates the work of Pier Luigi Nervi.

Palazzetto dello sport, Rome

Nervi’s Palazzetto dello sport, Rome

The Italian engineer and architect Pier Luigi Nervi [1891-1979] was one of the master-builders of the twentieth century. The exhibition presents a selection of images produced by STUDIO VASARI, Rome, from original photographs commissioned by Nervi.

Under Tommaso Vasari, the Studio progressively specialized in architectural photography and have a vast range of works by Nervi in the Vasari Archives at the University of Parma [CSAC]. The works on display comprise of black and white photographs printed on bromide paper and mounted on plywood panels.

Nervi’s distinctive structures, with their sculptural buttressing and soaring skeletal frames, triumphantly attest to the extraordinary potential of concrete as a design medium.

Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican

Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican

As a professor at the University of Rome from 1947, Nervi taught that a designer could develop truthful solutions in three ways:

  1. By understanding the harmony of the laws of the physical world that regulate the equilibrium of forces and the resistance of materials

  2. By honestly interpreting the essential factors of each problem

  3. By rejecting the limitations of the solutions of the past.

One can see the influence of the Golden Section [also known as the Divine Proportion] in his work, which display remarkable properties of harmony, regeneration and balance. As Nervi once said

there does not exist…a work of art which is accepted and recognised as excellent from an aesthetic point of view which is not excellent from a technical point of view. Good technology is a necessary condition of good architecture

His works have influenced many latter day modern architects, notable Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava and Renzo Piano.