Japanese survey of quake-damaged structures in Italy

November 28, 2016

Japanese surveyWith the goal of providing mutual support and collaboration on seismic damage of historic structures, the Architectural Institute of Japan has carried out a survey of buildings damaged in the 2016 Central Italy earthquakes.

This survey, which took place between the dates of 29 Sept and 3 October, involved experts in masonry structures and seismic evaluation from the Nagoya City University, Kinki University and private architectural firms and institutes. Together, these colleagues surveyed quake-damaged buildings in Norcia, Amatrice, L’Aquila, Macerata and other surrounding towns.

Eisuke Nishikawa, Project Manager, Sites Unit and newly seconded ICCROM staff member from Japan, joined the Japanese survey effort on 2 October in the historic city of Amandola, located about 30 km north of the epicentre. Although Amandola was not as devastated by the earthquake as cities such as Amatrice, certain of its historic buildings were damaged. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo joined the survey on this day.

The survey focused mainly on two historic brick structures in Amandola, the Monastero Benedettine San Lorenzo and the Chiesa di San Francesco.

Japanese survey of quake-damaged structures in ItalyIn the monastery, the survey noted wall cracks and fissures, particularly around window regions, the collapse of gables, and the fragmentation and pulverization of wall finishings. The church suffered cracks and a gap on the upper part of apse, along with pulverization of wall finishings as in the other building. Additionally, the spire of the church bell tower detached and fell. These types of damage are typical lesions suffered by masonry buildings in an earthquake, and are a common concern between Italy and Japan.

Over time, Japan has carried forward many projects for the seismic reinforcement of traditional wooden structures, yet there is also a need to develop strategies for historic brick buildings. Like Italy, Japan is located in a strongly seismic area and has an important trove of historic masonry structures dating to the early 20th century, which are now classed as heritage. Steel-framed brick buildings such as the 1914 Tokyo Station, used by many thousands of commuters per day, point to a common interest between Italy and Japan to find seismic retrofitting and reinforcement solutions that protect human life while also preserving these historic structures.

This collaboration was subject of a seminar on 1 December in Rome, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Embassy of Japan in Italy.  The seminar, entitled La Prevenzione del Rischio Sismico in Italia e in Giappone (the Prevention of Seismic Risk in Italy and Japan) addressed the need to exchange experience and knowledge in the field of disaster prevention and protection of cultural heritage, and envisaged cooperation in this field between the two countries.

The seminar speakers, among them Mr Nishikawa, included high-level risk management officials, geophysics experts, seismic engineers, professors in construction and retrofitting methods, and the mayors of quake-damaged cities.  Their presentations cited the many commonalities between Japan and Italy in the area of seismic risk.

The following areas were specified as useful collaboration points between the two countries:

  • Methods for analysis of seismic risk
  • Adoption of seismic classification and building norms
  • Assessment of building stock stability, implementation of optimal retrofitting methods
  • Awareness campaigns and education for a public culture of seismic preparedness.

The seminar was part of the festivities marking the 150 year anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Italy.



Ministry of Foreign Affairs – workshop announcement 

Programme of workshop

Italy Earthquake’s Other Casualty – Cultural Heritage

Earthquakes in Central Italy

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