Reconstructions Design tools after emergencies. Transizioni sismiche, permanenze insediative tra emergenza e ricostruzione

Department: PhD in Architecture, History and Project
Supervisor: Prof. Matteo Robiglio | Prof. Andrea Maria Lingua
Candidate: Ilaria Tonti

Italy is a fragile state by nature and is affected by endemic and recurrent natural disasters (earthquakes, floods and landslides). In the last 50 years, the Italian territory hit by six violent earthquakes, three of which alone in the Central Apennines’ fragmented and discontinuous areas in the previous twenty years alone.  

The rules, the processes, and the solutions for emergency management in Italy, and the world, have moved architectural design away from standardised solutions and lack of attention to the territorial complexities.

All this is combined with the slowness of reconstruction processes, which can be empirically verified, especially in Italy, are often completed within 20 to 30 years of the event itself. 

Since the 2016 seismic events in Central Italy and from the spatial impact of temporary buildings, the research reflects and analyses the relationships between emergency and permanent urban settlements and their effects/transformations of such actions in that long time in-between, which precedes reconstruction. The perspective is the overcoming of emergency operations, from the concept of protection to the idea of incorporation and coexistence within its design practices of long-term risks.

Temporary solutions, temporality, living in the emergency, permanence, spatial detection of impacts, open data are keywords that outline the starting point for understanding reality in continuous transformation and waiting for permanent reconstruction. 


What is meant by “temporary”? What role does it play in the territories, and what geographies does it produce?

Through which tools to survey, observe, investigate and re-design these territories?


The research aims to reflect on the temporary management in the absence of an overall, systemic, and national scale phenomenon perspective. Geospatial analyses support these reflections, mappings that try to characterise those “theoretically” temporary processes (from the geographical to the settlement scale).


The research is structured on a double level: on the one hand, an overview of the existing architectural literature oriented in the field of post-event temporariness; on the other hand, it uses the geo-referenced information systems (GIS) tools to define and compare the settlement transformation resulting from temporary solutions.

With an interdisciplinary approach, these technical methods, with their data acquisition and processing tools, cross all the research phases and considered useful tools to put cartographic representation, alphanumeric data, and architectural practices in a stressful relationship to bring out these new centralities defined as “temporary”.

A methodology finalised to the development of a harmonised geospatial database of knowledge, measurement, and representation of the phenomenon on a territorial and local scale, through the use of stratification of heterogeneous sources and information, often not updated (satellite images, regional Geoportals, very high-resolution orthophotos, LIDAR surveys, UAV photogrammetric data, demographic and economic data, numerical technical maps, cadastral maps, project documents).

The PhD activities’ main objective will be to construct a multiscale and multi-temporal geographic Database of post-emergency solutions supported by a geo-information system (GIS).

The thesis intends to investigate the interaction between geomatic tools as a design tools, for knowledge, for re-designing and for understanding a potentially active role of monitoring at different times, using theoretical, practical, and spatial multiscale frameworks.


 The final objectives are:

1 – through the construction of a diachronic digital atlas of “temporary” emergency response actions, give back an empirical and accurate overview of the current state of the phenomenon in Central Italy. The experimentation of active and flexible digital tools can act in the meantime concerning the different times of emergency planning, management, and monitoring of the reconstruction process itself and not (re)created exclusively ex-post.


2 – Through the analysis and comparison of case studies, to define a prototype of Open Data for the management of temporary actions in the post-disaster phase, including the numerical and spatial information needed.