e-rph 20, jun. 17 | ISSN 1988-7213 | revista semestral
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e-rph nº 20, junio 2017
Intervención | Experiencias
Terremotos y reconstrucción. Proyectos y experiencias de Italia | Lucia Serafini


3.- The contribution of the restoration

The reconstruction plans drafted by the Faculty of Architecture in Pescara were based not only the geographic circumstances of the earthquake and the university campus’s proximity to the damaged areas, but also—and above all—on the wealth of studies on the region conducted throverough decades of teaching and professional experiences in the historic centres and local construction techniques, which were also examined in light of the centuries of experience with earthquakes and the measures developed to mitigate their effects (Varagnoli, 2008; Varagnoli-Serafini-Verazzo, S.D.: 281-293; Varagnoli-Serafini-Verazzo, 2104: 139-160. Varagnoli 2008; Serafini, 2008. Verazzo, 2015; Di Nucci, 2009).

These studies brought together the necessarily urbanistic characters of the various plans with the more modern demands for the restoration of the historic centres; they impacted methods and objectives in both the study and design phases.

Following the earthquake, the crater area was subdivided into nine homogenous areas, located within a territory of close to 3 000 square metres, close to 20% of the entire regional area. L’Aquila was excluded from this territory, as we already mentioned, because it was considered too complex in terms of the quantity and quality of its monuments to not constitute an example in its own right. The areas of intervention were defined based on their geographic homogeneity and the landscapes that characterise the many basins and valleys typical of the Abruzzo region. However, their express aim was to simplify relations between the regional authorities and the towns and villages, in the hopes of establishing a regional government based on cohesive forms considered essential for the social and economic renewal of the entire crater(9).

In compliance with the methodological approach that considers the historic centres and the broader areas to which they belong as necessarily inseparable, the reconstruction plans were proposed as strategic and integrated plans, that is with a multitude of approaches and skills ( Clementi pp. 17-35; ID., 2016: 129-140): from the State represented by the Delegated Commissioner, to the Regional and Provincial authorities, to the Regional Directorate, the Superintendents, National and Regional Parks, and even the municipal technical offices and the citizens of each affected village, who are necessarily the key stakeholders in any discussion on reconstruction.

The extent of the damage in each individual village was the main consideration in defining the perimeters, so-called “red zones”, which were established in cooperation with the administrations and the Mission Engineering Structure with a focus primarily on ancient areas and on buildings of historic and artistic value, which are covered by protection laws. The state of emergency in which the perimeters were drawn immediately following the earthquake explains in part their often hasty outline, dictated more by a need to maximize reconstruction than by a consideration of the damage based on the urban organism. Therefore, while the perimeter followed the ancient city walls in L’Aquila and in other centres and therefore enclosed the entire historic centre, the many types of damage led to a patchwork of perimeters in other cases. Once example is the centre of Ofena, in the province of L’Aquila, where the plan includes portions of the historic centre that were damaged must worse than others as well as monuments outside it, like churches and convents, that are isolated from the area and have strong landscape characteristics. It is clear that in this case more than in others, it was difficult to define and identify so-called structural aggregates, understood as interacting and continuous buildings from a static viewpoint, that had to be dealt with necessarily as single units (Serafini 2013: 268-275).

Ilustración 06. Figura 6. Ofena, Reconstruction Plan. Drawing of the main fronts (F. Nardelli).

The reconstruction plan, which was introduced after the earthquake by Law 77 of 24 June 2009(10), has a long history in Abruzzo, since it is actually an update of the plan established by Law 154 in March 1945—before WWII had even ended—to repair the damage caused by bombing and to mend the fabric of buildings that was often irreparably torn apart. Then, as now, the stated objective was to bypass the bureaucratic machine that hobbles along for normal urban works, through a more agile instrument of an extraordinary nature to coordinate physical reconstruction programmes and economic and social renewal plans for the damaged towns and villages. That aim was backed by an urgent need for residents to return to their homes, to avoid the major risk of loss of social ties, and to preserve the viability of surviving businesses. Unfortunately however, just like after the War, the bureaucracy once again reared its unwieldly head; almost eight years after the earthquake, not all of the 56 planned reconstruction plans have yet completed the procedures to receive financing before they can move on to actual reconstruction(11).

The delays in L’Aquila were just as serious. The 1970s urban development plan on which the reconstruction is based has been unable to get reconstruction started, bogged down in years of arguments and discussions, and tangled up in red tape that was unravelled only recently, coinciding with the opening of the Basilica di San Bernardino, numerous historic palaces and part of the centre, especially along Via Vittorio Emanuele in spring of 2015 (AbruzzoWeb. L’Aquila, 23 June 2016; Parisse, 2016).

In order to make best use of remaining resources and design a future scenario that’s both possible and necessary, the Plans project used the following as references: regional law of 1983(12), the quality objectives of the Landscape Plan of the Abruzzo Region—entirely relevant in areas like those studied where the blending of nature and culture, buildings and the environment creates an extraordinary marriage of shapes and values—as well as urban programs (when they exist) drafted for individual villages prior to the earthquake, which were naturally updated to include demands made necessary by the post-earthquake situation.

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Universidad de Granada
Departamento de Historia del Arte
Observatorio del Patrimonio Histórico Español
Proyecto de Investigación de Excelencia HUM 620
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