How Cultural Divide can put Cultural Heritage at Risk

The seismic events that have damaged cities and towns in central Italy in recent years destroyed, or irreparably damaged, important examples of architecture. Behind several of these damages, it is known among experts in the sector that bad management of the safety interventions of the buildings must be recognized. Emblematic cases can be identified in the earthquakes that, between 1997 and 2017, struck the regions of Abruzzo and Umbria in Italy.

Image of the vault of the upper Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, which collapsed after the 26th September 1997 earthquake. The use of reinforced concrete beams in the roof was suspected to be a possible cause of the collapse, in which four people died while carrying out an inspection to detect damage caused by the previous night’s shock. Image: Wikipedia
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Earthquakes and Cultural Heritage: the STOP Vademecum to help first responders limiting damages to buildings

Earthquakes pose a big threat to cultural and heritage buildings. Normally, historic buildings are more vulnerable to seismic actions than ordinary ones. So, also the artifacts that such buildings normally protect are subject to damages, due to the debris and, sometimes, to fires ignited by earthquakes.

Cover of the the STOP Vademecum published by the CNVVF (Italian National Fire and Rescue Services)
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3D Scanning and Emergency Management of Cultural Heritage Buildings after Earthquakes: the St. Francis of Assisi Integrated System

3D scanning of the three levels of the St. Francis of Assisi Basilica (Assisi, Italy) -courtesy of Prof.  Fabio Garzia – La Sapienza University, Rome (Italy).

One of the main problems of emergency management in case of damage reported by historic buildings after an earthquake is represented by immediate damage assessment. In fact, nowadays it is not possible to use techniques other than the personal evaluation carried out by first responders.

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Large scale crisis and data exchange: the CAP protocol in L’Aquila earthquake

On April, 6th 2009 the Italian city of L’Aquila and the surrounding area have been striken by a 6,3 Mw earthquake, causing 309 victims, more than 1.600 injured and 10 billion euro of damages.

A door is one of the few remains of an old house in the historical center of Amatrice (Italy), destroyed by the earthquake of Aug. 24th, 2016. (Credits: Fireriskheritage.net)

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Damages to Cultural Heritage caused by 24th August 2016 Central Italy Earthquake

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On August 24th, 2016  a severe earthquake has hit an area in Central Italy approximately among the city of Amatrice and Norcia. The quake, that has been followed by months of replicas (especially on 26th October and 30th October) has killed nearly 300 people and damaged or destroyed a number of heritage buildings (churches, houses, walls, towers etc.).

In many cases, it has not been possible to implement with the necessary timing temporary shoring or putting in safety measures. Therefore, in the shocks happened the weeks after the 24th August, some buildings that had been damaged, but  not  destroyed, have collapsed.

The numerous debris, which was not possible to remove, due to administrative difficulties in moving them in appropriate areas, have prevented sometimes to approach the buildings  and, therefore, to let firefighters operate safely.

Moreover, the sheer size of the area affected and the number of works to be protected caused delays in the processing of putting in safety works projects. The projects, in fact, must be drawn from engineers,  but have to be approved by the competent body for the protection of cultural heritage.

September 2012: the program of the Venice International Workshop on Emergency in Historical Centers

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VENICE – SCUOLA GRANDE DI SAN GIOVANNI EVANGELISTA

20 September 2012: International Workshop  – Protecting historic centres during emergencies

The Italian National Fire Corps (CNVVF) has organized the meeting, which will address to historical centers emergencySeptem,nbre . The use of IT technologies in this field and the techniques used to put in place provisional works to save historical buildings after an earthquake will be shown, with reference to the l’Aquila earthquake experience.

Some presentation will show problems of fire protection in historical buildings.

Session 1 – Technical codes and case studies
Chairman
Maurizio Crovato (Chief editor of RAI International)

  • 10.00 Nfpa 909 and 914 and statistics Donald Moeller – Deborah Freeland (NFPA)
  • 10.20 Fire standards in Italy: problems and solutions Luca Nassi (CNVVF)
  • 10.40 Toronto Distillery district Fred Leber (Leber/Rubes Inc.)
  • 11.00 Protection of the Historical Architecture and criteria of Equivalent Safety Renata Codello (Soprintendency of Venice)

Break

13.10 Questions and discussion

Break
Session 2 – Emergency management – Chairman Loris Munaro (CNVVF)

DOWNLOAD THE LEAFLET:  Venice Provisional Program – vers. 29.8.2012

Did Rome’s Colosseum suffered a post earthquake fire in 271 A.D.?

Colosseum simulation of coaction stress distribution
Image showing the simulation of coaction stress distribution in the Rome’s  Colosseum according the Prof. Enzo Cartapati (Sapienza University of Rome), which presentated a study on the effects of the 217 A.D. earthquake and its possibile connection with a fire that damaged in the same period the monument 

In 217 A.D. Rome’s Colosseum was slightly damaged by a fire. Since Rome is built in a seismic area and there is an earthquake reported during September 217 A.D. ,Rome Univerity  La Sapienza’s Professor Enzo Cartapati has studied the possibility of a fire event due to the seismic event.

Together with Maurizio Cerone, Prof. Cartapati has conducted a structural analysis of Colosseum’s stone columns, in order to understand if actually the fire occurred after the seismic shock.

The presentation of such work, presented during the April 11th 2003 Conference “Integrating Historic Preservation with Security, Fire Protection, Life safety and Building Management Systems”,  can be downloaded from this website:

Cartapati-Cerone_Colosseum