EARTHQUAKE RESISTANT ARCHITECTURE. THE IMPORTANCE OF PREVENTION


Long-term planning meets risk mitigation. How important is it to study the territory before starting to build? The opinion of Vicenzo Giovine

Long-term planning meets risk mitigation. How important is it to study the territory before starting to build? The opinion of Vicenzo Giovine

Whatever the construction material used, all rules and regulations must be respected including qualified builders, compliance with the Italian Technical Construction Regulations on ductility, and a Project Manager able to properly assess the construction and the performance of materials entering the building yard.  Speaking of which, at the last MADE expo in 2015 the Italian National Council of Geologists clearly specified the methods to be adopted in order to safeguard this fragile country.

 

MADE expo asked Vincenzo Giovine, Vice Chairman of the Italian Council of Geologists for his opinion.

 

Dr. Giovine, how important is a detailed geological and geomorphological analysis prior to venturing into building construction?

“There are no areas of Italy that are completely risk-free when it comes to earthquakes, except for Sardinia, which is low-risk. It is essential to understand the territory whether the plans are for new constructions or reconstructions. Two buildings may be in identical condition, but “site effects” related to the ground surface, geology and morphology of the location will play a crucial role in their behaviour. Seismic micro-zoning studies are essential for gauging the seismic amplification that, at the interface between the structure and the ground, determines the degree to which the structure may be damaged.

 

The Italian Minister for Infrastructure. Graziano Delrio, has stated that “The country will put in place an organic prevention plan”.  What proposals are you putting to the Government?

“Let’s not forget that 60% of Italy’s architectural heritage was built before Law 64 was passed in 1974, introducing technical regulations for constructions in earthquake-prone areas. We propose that every building be given a “Building Logbook” – a kind of “medical record” for constructions. It would provide a comprehensive map including the geological features of the site, as well as the structural and maintenance aspects.”

 

The Italian building construction industry has obviously always had a strong focus on earthquake safety. What steps can be taken to raise awareness and spread the culture of prevention?

“To make prevention part of culture, you have to go into schools and teach children how to behave in the event of an emergency, like they do in Japan for example. A long-term plan needs to be rolled out if we are to achieve a situation that will never be zero-risk, which is impossible, but at least to mitigate existing risk.”