Technical Architecture

Giorgio Croatto,
Umberto Turrini,
Angelo Bertolazzi,

The research activity concerns the following topics belonging to the Scientific Disciplinary Sector ICAR / 10 - Technical Architecture:

  • Study of the techniques of recovery of the existing buildings; fields of energetical, functional and architectural regeneration (recovery and conservation of buildings)
  • Building sustainability and the reuse of materials. Adaptation and renewal of architectural technologies; (new technologies and materials)


  • Study of the techniques of recovery of the existing buildings; fields of energetical, functional and architectural regeneration (recovery and conservation of buildings)

This theme analyzes the recovery and conservation of buildings, focusing on the many aspects of the subject, Reversibility and compatibility of the recovery with the existing one; evaluation of the procedures and systems of current use, with the aim of highlighting critical issues and the possibility of increasing reversibility values. Study of procedures for evaluating the overall effectiveness of the interventions, identifying and defining appropriately "weighted" parameters and extending the results to the complete building, conceived as the final result deriving from the set of transformation operations performed on the same (architectural, structural and plant engineering), performed to satisfy new and renewed functional / formal requirements. This fact to further deepen and expand, to a higher macro level, the previously identified concepts of compatibility and reversibility.
In this context, criteria and "guidelines" are identified and used to allow the identification of the priorities to be placed at the base of recovery interventions and, in this field, knowledge becomes fundamental for the recovery of the existing one.
The study covers in detail the recovery methods having as their object the modification of the internal volumes of the building that maintain the existing context to the unchanged boundary, such as "nested building", to obtain a sustainable energy and functional recovery of the urban historical heritage.
In these areas, the criteria and guidelines can be tested in real operational sessions through real "case studies" to evaluate their effectiveness and correctness.
In the second instance, based on the results obtained, the research addresses areas of improvement as regards the interaction systems of new elements with existing elements in contexts of nested buildings characterized by architectural recovery interventions.
The experimentation also concerns solutions for the connection between new horizontal elements and existing vertical elements made with reversible systems, in order to offer less invasive levels than the current ones realized with the use of existing techniques. Construction solutions and technologies deriving from other building contexts are studied and used, such as prefabrication, decontextualizing them and applying them to building recovery.
Similarly, innovative broad-spectrum constructive solutions are analyzed. From the study of sustainable underground techniques on historic buildings in the context of redevelopment of historical heritage in a context of building sustainability up to the identification of guidelines and intervention criteria for expansions and / or up-raising of post-war buildings with high-content techniques of technological innovation (CLT lightweight structures, high efficiency titanium zinc coatings, cogeneration systems and recovery of land resources). With regard to this topic, international awards have been received.
As regards the study of recovery techniques in the international context of the Mediterranean area, the construction techniques and typological matrices of the Albanian / Greek building are studied through a campaign of surveys and studies "in the field". The study concerns in detail the residential built but also the commercial heritage (hotel buildings) subject to a slow cultural deterioration in favor of modern consumerism which involves the elimination of traditional culture (architectural and socio-cultural values). they are more able to meet multicriteria sustainability parameters and criteria (functional, energy, structural, etc.) in an ever-changing urban context with increasingly restrictive requirements.

  • Building sustainability and the reuse of materials. Adaptation and renewal of architectural technologies; (new technologies and materials)

The second research topic concerns the study of construction technologies, whether they are historically consolidated or even coeval, in order to identify new solutions oriented towards concepts of sustainability, volumetric modularity, constructive independence and construction speed.
The issues of adaptive buildings are of central importance, ie buildings with high thermo-hygrometric performance capable of modifying functional layouts according to the needs of the user. This concept is highly innovative if it is conceived in a context of building sustainability which makes the optimization of the building envelope based on the needs of energy saving. The research made it possible to identify selection criteria for optimizing the multicriteria adaptive building that make use of multiple modular solutions simultaneously, establishing hierarchies and providing assessment tools for final performance. These solutions are then tested in situ using specifically designed buildings (currently underway Corewood project).
In the same line of research, an innovative study is underway for a laboratory building made of CLT multilayer wood called UNIZEB, which is illustrated below.

UniZEB is a permanent and multidisciplinary laboratory, created by students and for students, with the support and guidance of professors, graduate students, research fellows, companies and professional bodies.
The project deals with training, research and innovation in the field of low or zero energy consumption; its ultimate aim is the design and construction of energy-efficient and environmentally, socially and economically sustainable housing modules. From this it can be seen that the activity of UniZEB is not limited only to the field of construction and plant engineering, but also embraces a large number of disciplines that are apparently less connected to construction, like the economy, the psychology, communication. UniZEB, in fact, proposes to study its own solutions and its application cases at three hundred and sixty degrees. The project therefore presents an innovative multidisciplinary character and a unique opportunity for the formation of specific know-how in the technical design and management of a team by the students. Currently UniZEB includes more than sixty students, coming not only from engineering studies (mainly from DII and ICEA departments), but also from psychology and labor consultancy, economics, communication, letters, etc. It is necessary to underline the fact that every October, when academic activities resume, a period of recruitment is provided; during this period new students can apply to join the laboratory, following the exit from the same of boys now unable to participate for various reasons, such as the fact of having graduated or the assignment of a place for the Erasmus program. Therefore the team is constantly evolving.

The UniZEB laboratory deals with training and research in the field of energy saving and environmental, social and economic sustainability in relation to construction. This need stems from the awareness that buildings are the cause of 40% of CO2 emissions; this is as true for Europe as it is for Veneto. Therefore the European Union, in recent years, has promoted policies that aim to reduce the use of energy from fossil sources in buildings. This objective can be pursued both in existing buildings, through targeted retrofit interventions, and in new buildings, designing them to follow the parameters NZEB (Nearly Zero Energy Building), ZEB (Zero Energy Building) or PEB (Plus Energy Building). There are numerous technologies currently on the market that can reduce the energy consumption of buildings, but these are centered on individual aspects of construction, such as the casing, the heating and / or cooling system, lighting, renewable sources, etc. The possible combinations of the various technological solutions and their efficiency in the actual operating conditions are less well known and analyzed.
UniZEB, given these premises, proposes to:
• stimulate students' creativity towards the development of innovative technologies, promoting concrete training, through a learning-by-dong approach, already appreciated and commonly used in different European university systems;
• promote innovation and collaboration between the University and companies, strengthening a continuous experimentation of new technological solutions to be re-launched in the sustainability market;
• to raise public awareness for an increasingly aware and efficient use of energy;
• focus on the environmental, economic and social sustainability of high energy efficiency homes, guaranteeing a high level of comfort.
All these points materialize in the design and construction of autonomous prototypes from the energy point of view, with a view to providing a service to the community and companies: a computerized and infrastructured research laboratory, in which each parameter is monitored 24/7, in conditions real operating values and where different technological combinations can be tested.
Please refer to the Unizeb website for further information

Keywords: Sustainability, reuse of materials, architectural technologies