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Basento Viaduct

Potenza, Italy
1 of 10

In the immediate postwar period, several talented engineers entered the fray with structural designs and formally managed to be technological innovators. One was the multi-talented Italian engineer Sergio Musmeci, whose best known work, the Viaduct Basento ,1967-1974, is one of the most emblematic eclectic infrastructure of the time.

The theoretical and practical work of Musmeci challenges those who believe that the relationship between mathematics and architecture is only theoretical. Along with his contemporaries Frei Otto, Eladio Dieste, and his mentor Luigi Nervi, derived forms of the stresses incurred in different materials and structural systems, usually through extensive studies with large-scale models, reversing the typical design process arbitrary geometry first prescribing specific problems or conditions before they see the issues structural. The final form was the result of optimization, which ensured maximum efficiency in performance and minimal material usage.


The viaduct crosses the river becoming Basento access to the ancient city of Potenza, founded in BC 260. The city has been industrially developed along the river is the capital of the mountainous region of Basilicata, Italy.

The bridge is the main route of communication between industrial area and the residential area of the city, with its design influenced initially by the location of the river and the railroad tracks, across both, plus two roads in the nearby industrial area to the city. The structure withstood the great earthquake in Irpinia in 1980 which reached 6.89Mw on the Richter scale.


Musmeci was motivated by the need to produce shapes created by the forces and stress. In a change from the traditional method, the latter is considered known, and the geometric variables are the unknowns that have to be found, ie, the best way for a structure, expressing its maximum efficiency and driving forces through material chosen, constantly changing direction, if necessary. In this project, the architect was implemented in structures that form is not determined by the building but for the representation of loads and their actions in space.

The architectural solution on Basento Bridge (Ponte sul Basento), is the result of thinking Musmeci, who considered that the thought of the engineer and the architect should coincide in the main, the first would have to develop its imaginative aspect and its Once the architect be more technical. With the viaduct Potenza, Musmeci showed the will of tender points between the two disciplines, resulting in a piece of sculpture, architecture, dynamic and changing according to the observation point, equipped with a highly expressive from every point of view.

The unusual 3D shapes are reminiscent of the crest of a rooster poultry or nuns headdress hospital in some of the fantasies of the Italian film director Federico Fellini.

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lchiselef, September 1st, 2017
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