Biography of Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979)

Italian engineer, born in 1891 in Sondrio and died at his home in Rome in 1979. He/She studied and enrolled in the Faculty of Civil Engineering of Bologna (1913). Later, he/she received training as a technician of structures. Between 1915 and 1918 the war interrupted his work, but after he/she founded her own Studio (1920), and years later (1932), created a construction company.

He taught as Professor technical construction between 1945 and 1962 at the Faculty of architecture of Roma.En 1950 was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Buenos Aires, receiving the same title by many universities in later years.

In terms of its architecture, it is important to remember that it was not architect but engineer and Builder. It carried out a scientific research on structures in concrete during their lifetime. Indeed, his works are mostly large public buildings: hangars, offices, studies, palaces of exhibitions, etc.

This Italian not only considered architectural work project: had to materialize it, taking into account the functionality and economy. When designing you must create workable works without forgetting the means available to the designer.Its architecture is characterized by large structures in concrete (emphasizing the study of vaults in this material) and scientific research, not never identified with any architectural power.

His first great work is the Municipal Stadium of Florence (1929-1932), important civil engineering concrete structure reinforced with frameworks, highlighting the marathon of 55 meters Tower located in the center of one side of the stadium.

Three years later he/she built two hangars of GEODESIC structure in Oviedo. This work emphasizes the structure of arches of concrete crisscrossing forming a homogenous mesh. The enclosure is made with brick.

Following his first two hangars, Nervi built another six, this time with precast concrete Orbieto, Orbetello and Torre del Lago Puccini (1939-1942). The structure in this case consists of a concrete lattice mesh supported in six stands of the same material.

Later projects and built the main hall of the Palacio de Exposiciones in Turin (1947-1949), covered by a light wavy Vault.Nervi also built salon C for the same Palacio de Exposiciones, this time between 1949 and 1950, covered with a barrel of prefabricated Vault similar procedure.

In collaboration with two architects, built the headquarters of the Unesco in Paris (1953-1958), made up of two buildings: the building of the Secretariat, on stilts and a plant in the form of and; and the Palacio of conferences with trapezoidal shape.

Subsequently Nervi collaborates in different buildings for the 1960 Olympics in Rome. His most recent works include a train station Savana (1958-1961), the Palacio of labour in Turin (1960-1961), the skyscraper Plaza Victorial in Montreal (Canada), the Cathedral of Santa MarĂ­a in San Francisco (USA, 1966-1971); and his last great work, the classroom of Papal audience at the Vatican. In this last work built a vault undulating, formed with elements precast concrete, with rectangular openings on the sides and supported by a series of pillars and a set of chains that counter horizontal thrust. Apart from his works, Nervi designed other so many projects and in-depth studies with models in collaboration with the I.S.M.E.S. (Instituto Experimental models and structures).


BRU, e. & MATEO, j. l.: contemporary European architecture. (Barcelona, Ed. Gustavo Gili, 1987).

DESIDERI, Paolo: Pier Luigi Nervi. (Barcelona, Ed. Gustavo Gili, 1982).

LUIGI NERVI, Pier: Pier Luigi Nervi. (Barcelona, Ed. Gustavo Gili S.A., 1982).

PICA, a.: Pier Luigi Nervi. (Barcelona, 1970).