NERVI'S cantilevering stadium roofs: Discipline of economy leads to inspiration

Sigrid Adriaenssens, David P. Billington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Although he came from a tradition that built magnificent palaces and churches, the Italian master builder Pier Luigi Nervi is arguably mostly known for his sports infrastructure. In this paper, we focus on his first (Giovanni Berta Stadium, Florence, 1930-1932) and last (Olympic Flaminio Stadium, Rome, 1957-1959) internationally widely recognized stadium with cantilevering roof. Through literature studies and structural analyses, we compare and contrast these two stadia on the basis of their structural and constructional efficiency, economy and design intent within the specific social-political context of the inter bellum and post-World War II era in Italy. The interpretation of these studies shows Nervi's clear progression from imitation, innovation to inspiration in his stadium design. More specifically shortage of construction materials and skilled labor did not constrain his projects but drove Nervi to design and build great structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-178
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
Issue number176-177
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Cantilever
  • Fabrication
  • Ferrocement
  • Grandstand
  • Nervi
  • Pré
  • Stadium


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