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Renzo Piano to help Italian earthquake reconstruction

2nd Renzo Piano
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Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi has asked Renzo Piano to play a major role in rebuilding towns ruined in last week’s earthquake

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy last Wednesday, devastating the historic towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto. At least 290 people died and 10 are still missing.

Renzi met with Piano at the weekend to discuss the reconstruction of the medieval towns, before launching a national plan for quake risk and prevention on Monday.

Speaking to The Guardian, Piano said the nation must take rapid action and implement anti-seismic regulations.

He said: ‘We have to act quickly, with the utmost urgency. Anti-seismic requirements must be inserted in the laws of the country to make our homes safe, just as it’s compulsory for a car to have brakes that work.’

The Italian government has promised to move 2,900 displaced residents – currently living in 58 tent camps and other temporary shelters – to lightweight wooden houses.

Reconstruction of the devastated Italian towns is set to begin in six to eight months.

The Shard architect has previously worked with Unesco, as well as in earthquake-prone zones in Japan and California.

He told The Guardian that buildings can be made safe with ‘subtle scientific’ methods.

But Piano also voiced concerns about unlawful activity. He said: ‘It is not just corruption, there is bureaucracy and illegality. Now there is a strong push against it and Italy is trying to do something about it. It is not impossible to overcome it; something new is coming.’

Other architects and architectural organisations have also been offering assistance since the earthquake. 

Peter Williams, managing director at Article 25, a charity that oversees sustainable projects in areas of poverty and disaster, told the AJ: ‘We are currently in the process of contacting the relevant authorities in both countries to offer help in rebuilding the communities. At the moment the focus in Italy is on relief and immediate aid but the construction standards in the quake-prone area are also being called into question.

‘These disasters emphasise again how important the design of good, earthquake-resistant buildings is. Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do. We all need to focus on preventing disasters proactively. Our charity is here to support wherever help is needed to reconstruct and create a safe environment.’

And Jonathan Wimpenny, a Huddersfield-born architect, flew out to Italy last week to examine potential damage to a number of buildings he has restored.

Wimpenny has had work in Italy since the 1970s. He told the AJ that some public buildings erected since the 1970s did not adhere to the country’s seismic regulations.

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