Historic Architecture

NANO-CATHEDRAL - Nanomaterials for conservation of European architectural heritage developed by research on characteristic lithotypes

The NANO-CATHEDRAL project aims at developing new materials, technologies and procedures for the conservation of deteriorated stones in monumental buildings and cathedrals and high value contemporary architecture. The objective is to provide “key tools” in terms of innovative nano-structured conservation materials (consolidant and protective treatments) for restoration and conservation on a full European scale. Five different cathedrals representative of different exposure conditions and types of stones are involved: the Cathedral of Pisa (Italy), the Cathedral de Santa María of Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain), the Sint-Baafs Cathedral of Ghent (Belgium), the Cathedral of St. Peter and Mary in Cologne (Germany) and the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, in Wien (Austria). Moreover, the Oslo Opera House, is also included as an example of a contemporary building with white Carrara marble cladding.
The research project is supported by the European program Horizon 2020 Call NMP21- AC 646178, under grant agreement No 646178.

Contacts: Lucia Toniolo, Francesca Gherardi

The Monza Cathedral: diagnostic and set-up of the conservation methodologies

The XV century façade of the Monza Cathedral is characterized by the presence of several and rather different lithotypes from Northern Italy. These includes different types of marble (Musso, Candoglia and Crevola) both of carbonatic and dolomitic nature, sandstones and serpentinites. In the framewok of the ongoing pilot restoration activity, the MaMeCH laboratory is involved in the characterization and assessment of the overall state of conservation of the stone materials of the façade. Moreover, one of the main objective of the diagnostic and monitoring activity is the set-up and evaluation of the cleaning, consolidation and protection methodologies which will be implemented in the forthcoming general preservation plan.

Contact person: Davide Gulotta

  • D. Gulotta, E. Bontempi, R. Bugini, S. Goidanich, L. Toniolo, "The deterioration of metamorphic serpentinites used in historical architecture under atmospheric conditions", Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 2017, 50, 402-411.
  • F. Gherardi, D. Gulotta, S. Goidanich, A. Colombo, L. Toniolo, “On-site monitoring of the performance of innovative treatments for marble conservation in architectural heritage”, Heritage Science, 2017, 5(4), 1-15.

The Oslo Opera House - Condition analysis and proposal for protection and maintenance of exterior marble

Since 2015 Politecnico di Milano, Betong Consult AS, NanoPhos SA, Technical University of Crete and Surfa Products Scandinavia AS have been jointly carrying out the project “The Oslo Opera House – Condition analysis and proposal for protection and maintenance of exterior marble” for Statsbygg in Norway. The Oslo Opera House is a listed building, designed by Snøhetta. The project is being done in close cooperation with the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage as well as other professionals which Statsbygg has established collaboration with regarding the approximately 23 000 m² Carrara Marble that decorates the external facades and roof of the Opera. (Credits: HollanStudio / Statsbygg)

Contacts: Lucia Toniolo, Francesca Gherardi

The façade of the “Duomo di Milano”: diagnostic and monitoring for a sustainable maintenance

The façade of the Duomo was recently subjected to an extensive and complex conservative intervention. The ongoing project aims at monitoring the evolution of the stone surfaces, evaluating the durability of the restoration materials and treatments, and studying the main degradation phenomena triggered by the highly polluted atmosphere of the city centre. A sustainable approach for the regular maintenance will be defined accordingly.

Contact person: Davide Gulotta

Protective treatments: nanostructured coatings based on TiO2 nanoparticles

The aim of this research is the set-up of nanostructured coatings with photocatalytic properties for the conservation of stone materials. In particular, new treatments based on water and ethylene glycol dispersions of TiO2 nanoparticles have been developed and applied on specimens of a calcarenite (Noto stone) and Carrara marble. Many tests have been carried out in order to verify their ability to induce decomposition of inorganic and organic compounds, making the surface on which they are applied self‐cleaning.

Contact person: Francesca Gherardi

  • F. Gherardi, A. Colombo, S. Goidanich, R. Simonutti, L. Toniolo, Innovative nano‐TiO2 particles for the preparation of self-cleaning treatments of historic architecture and sculptures, Proceeding of the conference Hydrophobe VII, Lisbon, 10-11 September 2014.
  • F. Gherardi, A. Colombo,M. D’Arienzo, B. Di Credico, S. Goidanich, F. Morazzoni, R. Simonutti, L. Toniolo, “Efficient self-cleaning treatments for built heritage based on highly photo-active and well-dispersible TiO2 nanocrystals”, Microchemical Journal, 2016, 126, 54-62.

The "cortile del Richini". Knowledge, conservation and maintenance

The famous “Cortile del Richini” has been subjected to an extensive study aimed at characterizing and monitoring the state of conservation of its façades. The results have been correlated to those acquired during the last conservation campaign (1990-93), in order to evaluate the evolution of the degradation phenomena and the durability of the conservation treatments. A web-based GIS platform has been implemented to collect the data and to support the maintenance activity. (Project concluded in 2013)

Contact person: Davide Gulotta

  • D. Gulotta, M. Bertoldi, S. Bortolotto, P. Fermo, A. Piazzalunga, L. Toniolo. (2013). The Angera stone. A challenging conservation issue in the polluted environment of Milan (Italy). Environmental Earth Sciences, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp. 1085-1094
  • S. Bortolotto, D. Gulotta, L. Toniolo. Conoscenza, conservazione e manutenzione. In A. Negri, P. Tucci (a cura di), “Il Cortile del Richini. Un monumento da salvare”. Skira, Milano 2013, pp. 153-196. ISBN: 8857222141

A sustainable conservation through colours and materials: the historical center of Castiglione Olona

A method for the conservation project of finishings of historical buildings is defined. The procedure takes into account the connection between colour, materials, architecture and context. The Colour Plan consists of research and investigation activities (historical documentation ,materials and decay survey, diagnostic on site and laboratory investigations, chromatic survey of the façades) to define colour palettes and procedural guidelines. (Project concluded in 2014)

Contacts: Lucia Toniolo, Margherita Bertoldi

  • M. Bertoldi, M. Marletti, S. Puglisi, Riqualificazione urbana del centro storico di Lomello e La diagnostica per l’architettura. Il caso studio della ex chiesa di S. Rocco, in S. Bortolotto (a cura di), “Lomello. La conservazione del costruito”, Aracne Esempi di Architettura/27, Milano, 2014; ISBN 978-88-548-7136-6
  • M. Bertoldi, S. Bortolotto, ‘Progetti Colore’: metodologie e gestione per la conservazione, in G. Biscontin, G. Driussi (a cura di), “La conservazione del patrimonio architettonico all’aperto. Superfici, strutture, finiture e contesti”, Arcadia Ricerche, Marghera, 2012, pp. 59-67; ISBN 978-88-95409-16-0
  • M. Bertoldi , S. Bortolotto, D. Gulotta, L. Toniolo, Progetti colore: la diagnostica per il costruito, in M. Rossi (a cura di), “Colore e colorimetria. Contributi multidisciplinari vol. VIIA”, Maggioli, Milano, 2011, pp. 497-504; ISBN 88-387-6042-x

Characterization and durability evaluation of commercial NHL binders and ready-mixed mortars

Commercial binders and pre-mixed mortars for the intervention on the cultural heritage are currently available in a large number of different formulations. A deeper understanding of the compositional, microstructural and mechanical features of such products was the main objective of the project, as well as the evaluation of their durability at work. Commercial binders and NHL-based ready mixed mortars were fully characterized and subjected to long-term crystallization tests, in order to identify the main factors affecting the susceptibility to salt decay. (Project concluded in 2013)

Contact person: Davide Gulotta

  • D. Gulotta, C. Tedeschi, S. Goidanich. Long-term evaluation of the salt decay susceptibility of NHL commercial mortars. Online proceedings of the international conference “Built Heritage 2013 Monitoring Conservation Management”, 18-20 novembre 2013, Milano, pp. 1125-1132. ISBN 978-88-908961-0-1
  • D. Gulotta, S. Goidanich, C. Tedeschi, T. G. Nijland., L. Toniolo. (2013). Commercial NHL-containing mortars for the preservation of historical architecture. Part 1: Compositional and mechanical characterisation. Construction and Building Materials, vol. 38, pp. 31-42
  • D. Gulotta, S. Goidanich, C. Tedeschi, L. Toniolo. (2015)Commercial NHL-containing mortars for the preservation of historical architecture. Part 2: Durability to salt decay. Construction and Buildings Materials 96:198-208