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Dino Tamburini

Trieste, Italy
1 of 4
Dino Tamburini in the studio in via Machiavelli, 1. October 5, 1966.

Domenico, better known as Dino Tamburini, was born in Trieste on October 14, 1924, spent his childhood and youth in the family home, in the Castagneto alley, a green and hilly area of the city. He was an Italian civil engineer and architect born, raised and worked all his life in Trieste, a city and a port in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, on the border with Slovenia.

Childhood and studies

After a basic training course and enrollment in the classical high school, Dino, fifteen years old, to indulge his interest in a more technical education and a strong passion for drawing, decided to transfer to the Guglielmo Oberdan scientific high school, where he graduated in 1942. In November of the same year, yielding to the pressure of his father, he abandoned the idea of enrolling in the Academy of Fine Arts in favor of that at the engineering faculty of the Politecnico di Torino. Due to the war events, after a year he moved to the University of Padua to the course of Civil Construction Engineering, obtaining his degree in November 1949 and obtaining the provisional qualification to practice the profession of engineer in 1950.

Drawings and Caricatures

During his studies he also devoted himself to drawing and graphics, in particular caricature, which will become his favorite artistic expression. This passion will accompany him throughout his life, and his very personal style will be particularly appreciated. This passion will accompany him throughout his life, and his very personal style will be particularly appreciated. See, for example, the catalog of the exhibition of his sketches and drawings held in Ferrara, relating to the twenty-five years 1984-2009 in the Scardino (2009) (2009).


During World War II and the Nazi occupation, according to the testimonies of his daughters, Dino is captured and held prisoner in a health facility and then sent to the front against his will; in an attempt to escape he sees his study colleague die in front of him from a gunshot fired to stop them. In 1945 he joins the partisan resistance, Tamburini never talks about this period and does not leave writings, except for a few letters, in which he describes the pain of seeing a friend having to leave for a concentration camp (which he will fortunately find in South America).

Back to Trieste

Tamburini returned to Trieste to participate actively in the city’s reconstruction and reflections on its future as an integral part of Italy. After the short period of apprenticeship with Vittorio Frandoli, he establishes his own architectural studio and, together with his friends Roberta Costa and Lucio Arneri and older colleague Antonio Guacci, wins his first competition for the wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the port of Trieste, a complex and innovative structure for shipment and distribution, that unfortunately never sees the light. Tamburini’s interest in new construction technologies and materials finds expression in his and Costa’s design for tower flat buildings, the first “skyscrapers” of Trieste.


Tamburini then proceeds his work alone and design urban plans, residential structures, schools, sport halls and churches. He is the author of more than fifty public and private civil buildings in Trieste, some of them, like Parish Church dedicated to Aloysius de Gonzaga recognised for their innovational approach and aesthetic values. In the 1970s, he works on transport infrastructures, like Trieste’s first airport terminals, and scientific laboratories, visiting US and France to learn the peculiarities of architecture for research. When the urban development of Trieste slows down in 1980s, Tamburini, graduated at the age of 58 in architecture in Venice, turns his efforts to the restoration and reconstruction of historical buildings like the Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, the Palazzo Aedes, the Hotel della Ville and works with local artists and artisans. Tamburini archive dates entirely from the period after his return to Trieste as a graduate student, covering years of his professional career, 1948-2008. It is documenting his architectural projects, his graphic work and editorial activity and contains drawings, technical papers, photographs, draft of publications, notes and correspondence with clients, colleagues, and friends.

50s: beginning of career and the reconstruction of Trieste

After the war, Tamburini returned to Trieste and began his professional activity in the construction site of the episcopal seminary (1949-50) project by Vittorio Frandoli. For the construction company Crismani, he prepares his first works, which served to replace two bridges on the Grand Canal in Trieste.

In 1952 he won his first national competition together with the architect Lucio Arneri and the engineers Antonio Guacci and Roberto Costa, a project for the wholesale fruit and vegetable market, a large two-storey commercial structure on the shore of Trieste. The structure was conceived by engineers to be implemented in two phases: first as a city market with small retailers, then as a response to the exponential growth in port goods traffic, thanks to department stores equipped with automatic unloading and transport systems (Arneri et al., 1951) The project, however, will not be carried out, and Dino will have to wait a few more years, before seeing one of his projects carried out.

In 1949 he became a member of the Circolo della Cultura e delle Arti di Trieste (and remained there until 2008 formalizing his resignation due to his health conditions (Dino Tamburini, 2008)together with Roberto Costa (1924-2016), joining the other Trieste architects and engineers who will contribute most to the reconstruction of Trieste during the administration of the Allied Military Government (GMA). Among the members stand out the names of Romano Boico, Aldo Cervi, Alessandro Psacaropulo, Marcello Mascherini and Umberto Nordio (Rugliano, 2004) (2004).

The architect Umberto Nordio, already well known in these years, leads most of the young professionals of the Circle. Dino considers him to all intents and purposes his teacher and Nordio's latest works deeply influence him. Between 1953 and 1961 Dino was an assistant to Nordio in the course of architectural composition for the new degree in Civil Construction Engineering at the University of Trieste (Cammarata, 1950) In addition, in 1956, Tamburini works together with the group led by Nordio on the project for the INA CASA village in the San Luigi district (Dreossi, 2004) (2004).

In 1952 the GMA requested the Istituto Autonomo Case Popolari, the commissioning body for the construction of housing for the American military, to opt for the project of Tamburini and Costa for the houses in via Conti. The engineers propose two "skyscraper" houses with the load-bearing structure made entirely of concrete, light bricks and American-style windows. The Public Work Agency office chooses this solution for the innovative approach, the careful study of the distribution of interior spaces and finally the desire of the designers to build a modern Trieste despite the contrast with the existing urban fabric (Barillari, 2004) (2004). The Towers in via Conti become a reference model and open the city to subsequent modernization interventions; such as Casa Vriz and the skyscraper between via Carducci and via Milano.

After the project in via Conti, Tamburini and Costa founded a study together, and in the following two years they worked on the projects of the Costa and Bolaffio house in via Besenghi (1951), the buildings in via Combi (1953), the office building and new entrances to the beach of Grado (Gorizia) (1952-1954), the Headquarters for the Porto Institute (1952) and some projects for high schools in Trieste, Chiavari (Genoa) and Gorizia (1953). Tamburini then continues the design activity alone with the project for the condominium in via Canova (1956-1958) (Tamburini, 1956) (1956).

Already in 1955, Dino Tamburini participated in the regional competition for the design of a new church in the San Luigi district of Trieste; this was his first real personal project. His proposal is a sober and austere church with vaults and domes covered with a rustic plaster, with exposed concrete walls and pillars and a marble floor. The project wins the first prize and is appreciated for the particular conical vaults, slightly overlapping, which delimit with their edges the windows of colored cathedral glass, which create a unidirectional lighting convergent to the altar. Tamburini immediately meets the favor of the Diocese of Triestina, for example in the choice of a few decorations (the bronze pillars for the main door, the altarpiece and the facade of the church), but made with fine materials and designed with great care by the sculptor Marcello Mascherini (ITDT201059). For the project of the church Dino received in 1962 the prize of the National Institute of Architecture.

In these years Tamburini worked in Grado collaborating with the engineer Vigilio De Grassi (1889-1967), known on the occasion of the construction management for the entrances to the beaches of the same town. Together they prepare the Grado Master Plan in 1958 and the Detailed Master Plan of the Sacca and Schiusa areas, build the schools in Fossalon (1959-1963) and in Schiusa, a gymnasium in via Vinci (1958-1962), the branch of the Cassa di Risparmio di Trieste in Grado (1958-1959) and work on the arrangement of the Sacca District (1960-1965).

In 1959 Tamburini, already thirty-five years old, married Nicoletta Brunner, daughter of a family friend, a woman with a strong character and solid cultural roots. With Nicoletta he will share twenty years of life, the education of four children, the care of the house in Barcola and the passion for art. They will publish the picture books of poems together (Brunner, 2004) (2004). She will be the one to accompany him in his last years of life, for a friendship that lasted a lifetime, despite the fact that they had already been emotionally away for years.

60s: your own architectural studio and monumental projects

At the beginning of the sixties Tamburini opened his own architectural studio under the name Studio Ingegnere Tamburini in via Machiavelli 1. In that office, worked the surveyor Tullio Venturini who worked on his behalf in the construction sites, Rita Caputo who was in charge of administration and customers.

In the following decade, Tamburini continued to work on residential construction, participating in the construction of the buildings between via Salvi, Silvula, Del Ronchetto in Trieste (1962-1966) and the building complex in the area of Campo Marzio (1963). The project he is working on with particular enthusiasm is that for two buildings in the Gretta district (1962-1966), for which he also draws the interior details, windows and railings.

The most challenging project is the residential complex 'Il Giardino' with the attached headquarters of the data processing center of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region and regional offices (1974-1982). Of these years are also the projects of industrial or transport structures, Tamburini in 1962-1966 designs and directs works of the Tourist Air Station and the runway of the Ronchi dei Legionari Airport and participates in the competition for the new Aeroclub in Milan. In 1980 he also prepared a proposal for Genoa-Sestri airport, but the project will never be considered for the delay in the delivery of the project to the clients.

One of Tamburini's most important works in the sixties is the Europa hotel and the adjoining Le Ginestre hotel school, commissioned by the National Board for the Training of Trade Workers (ENALC) (1961-1968). For this project, Tamburini is inspired by the white villages (los pueblos blancos) in Andalusia: he draws rounded shapes covered with white plaster, perching on the cliff, reminiscent of other residential projects that follow the principles of organic architecture of Alvar Aalto and [Frank Lloyd Wright].

Between 1966 and 1976 Tamburini took care of the construction of the new building of the State Art Institute, then dedicated in 1973 to his teacher Umberto Nordio (disappeared in 1971). The rationalist project, which draws inspiration from Le Corbusier's Maison de la Culture, is reminiscent of the silhouette of a ship by overlapping two buildings, and is a decidedly unusual work for Tamburini.

In 1967 he participated, with Marcello Mascherini, Lojze Spacal, Giuseppe Zigaina, Corrado Balest, Franco Basaglia, starting with the idea of Stelio Crise - at the time librarian of the University of Trieste and later director of the Biblioteca del Popolo - to the creation of the series of self-produced books and prints “Iapidia”.

70-80s: the restoration projects of historic buildings in Trieste

At the end of the seventies Tamburini was part of the group of engineers in charge of the design of laboratories and university settlements as part of a plan for the redevelopment of a reception center for refugees fleeing from the communist countries of Eastern Europe located in the carsic village of Padriciano. To understand the functionalities of scientific areas and technology parks, he travels to the United States and France. This area is now known as the Science Park Area, home to high-tech businesses, including the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

In the seventies and eighties in Trieste not so much is built anymore, but the historical and residential buildings of the early twentieth century are recovered and restored (Marin, 2002); Tamburini will also follow this trend, turning its activity first in the field of private construction. From 1975 to 1983 he restored the office of the Banca Popolare di Novara in the historic Hotel de la Ville, and also deals with the design of the furniture.

This is followed by the restorations, together with Umberto Nordio, of the Politeama theater in Rossetti (1968), the Palazzo Muratti in Udine (1971-1977), the Alleanza Assicurazioni palace in Trieste in via Cesare Battisti (1971-1975), the hotel “Il Guscio” in Grado (1979) and the building in Viale XX Settembre, better known as Casa Cassab (1988).

In 1979 Tamburini began work on the restoration of buildings in Piazza Tommaseo: the project occupied the architect for more than ten years and ended with the restoration and interior design intervention for the historic Tommaseo cafe.

In the early eighties, some of his projects and interventions on cultural heritage were criticized, because he, a graduate in engineering, was judged to lack the necessary training. For this reason, at the age of 58, he enrolled in the Faculty of Architecture of Venice, obtaining his degree in 1982

In 1986 Tamburini received the assignment for the restoration of the Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi, which required an adaptation to health and safety standards, the renovation of the furnishings and decorations, and the design of the stage machine. This last intervention, which is particularly complex, requires specific in-depth preliminary studies. Tamburini visits La Scala and the theaters of Parma, Turin, Munich and Vienna and the Bolshoi in Moscow; finally, he drafts a project together with the artistic consultant, the architect Gino Pavan, and directs the construction work until completion in 1997.

The project is chosen for the 1996 Marcello D'Olivo two-year Architecture Prize and presented at the exhibition in Udine. This is immediately followed by the saleswoman, in collaboration with the architect Andrea Benedetti, for the restoration of the Sala del Ridotto of the Teatro Verdi (1998-2004), renewing all the technical facilities, the stage, the furnishings and the decorations.

2000s: recovery of ATER building stock and latest projects

At the end of the nineties, Tamburini still collaborated with ATER (former IACP) on projects for the restoration of the historic popular building heritage of Trieste.

In via Flavia (1999-2008) the architect designs and builds, on a plot made vacant, one of the 'L' buildings with 72 apartments and underground parking. Between 1999 and 2003 he also worked on the recovery of the block of Androna Aldraga (via dei Capitelli).

The last architectural intervention carried out by Dino Tamburini, his 'swan song' as he himself used to call it, is the restoration and expansion of the Yacht Club Adriaco (2001-2004). The oldest sailing school in Trieste, of which Dino himself had always been a partner. In addition to the restoration of the existing building, the club is calling for the construction of the second floor intended for the teaching room, canteen and gym. On this occasion, Tamburini returns again to apply his engineering skills: the upper floor hangs from a load-bearing lattice structure, so as not to burden the original building; the complex is easily recognizable by the green color, which stands out on the red of the historic walls.


Tamburini continues to design and draw even in the last years of his life. He died in Trieste after a long and devastating illness on February 20, 2011. Those who knew him well, describe Dino Tamburini as an affectionate, impatient, enthusiastic person, with an extroverted character, who loved his friends and had a strong sense of the artistic and intellectual clan.

Dino has collaborated on several projects with the artists, painters and photographers of Trieste: Livio Schiozzi created the mosaics for the passenger lounge of the Lloyd Triestino, the furnishings for the Folaga Allegra park in Gavirate and worked with Dino on the project of the Theater in Udine. With Marcello Mascherini he worked on the Church of San Luigi and some private orders, and Tamburini took care of the urban placement of his sculptures such as the fountain for the bronze group "Cantico dei Cantici" in Piazza Oberdan and "Il Guerriero".

Tamburini was an active member of the artistic and cultural associations of the city: Dorfles Workshop dedicated to experimental theater, the aforementioned Circle of Culture and Arts, the Galleria Torbandena by Giuliana Carbi and Franco Jesurum, the Tommaseo Gallery. He collaborated with art critics and architects to study his projects, including Giuliana Carbi and Nicoletta Zanni. He was a friend of Corrado Balest, Dario de Rosa, Federico Righi, Ossi Czimmer, Nino Peritz, Lucio Saffaro.


  • Arneri, L., Costa, R., Guacci, A., & Dino Tamburini, (1951). National competition for the project of the wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Trieste Architects II.
  • Barillari, D. (2004). Allied military government: a new commission. Edizioni Municipality of Trieste.
  • Brunner, N. (2004). Callisto. Iapida.
  • Cammarata, A. E. (1950). Establishment of the {c}bear of degree in civil engineering-building subsection. University of Trieste.
  • Dino Tamburini, (2008). Letter to giorgio tombesi, president of the culture and arts circle.
  • Dreossi, M. (2004). Registration of the projects kept at the technical archive of the municipality of Trieste. Edizioni Municipality of Trieste.
  • Marin, A. (2002). Public building and urban planning. SilvanaEditorial.
  • Nuhefendic, A. (2005). Judge and engineer, writers by chance. The Little.
  • Rugliano, A. R. (2004). The circle of culture and the arts. "Italy in an international dimension". Edizioni Municipality of Trieste.
  • Scardino, L. (2009). Amplessi, phrases and portraits : drawings by Dino Tamburini (from 1984 to 2009). Liberty House.
  • Tamburini, S. D. (1956). House of dwellings on the bottom tav.304 of chiadino-città.
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Trieste, Italy
bostjan, November 19th, 2023
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