Reinforced concrete, repair and conservation of structures: an ongoing challenge for engineering


Emma Potter

CONCRETO project and the role of engineers

To better understand engineers' perspectives on these issues, the CNI Study Center conducted a survey in May 2024, as part of the CONCRETE project, financed by the European Union through the Erasmus+ programme. The project is led by the Pier Luigi Nervi Foundation and involves 13 bodies including training structures, representative bodies of technical professionals and research centres.

From the survey, which involved almost 3 thousand interviewees (almost all engineers working in the civil-construction sector), it emerged that 71.5% of the participants were busy frequently or occasionally in repair and conservation projects of reinforced concrete structures.

Around 30% of engineers said that these interventions constitute 25% of their annual work volume, while for 21% they represent as much as 40%.

The types of structures on which we intervene most are: residential (80%) and public buildings (46%). Infrastructure (30%) and listed modern buildings (24%) also require frequent repair and recovery interventions. Multidisciplinarity emerges as a relevant aspect, with engineers and architects collaborating closely.

Types of interventions and necessary training

The most frequent interventions include the repair of the parts underneath the external plaster (patch repair), reinforcement interventions And crack repairs and reparative interventions and reinforcement with fibre-reinforced materials.

The market ofrestorative engineering of reinforced concrete is expanding, highlighting a growing demand for experts. However, only 42% of engineers has followed specialized university courses or has specific certifications for interventions on reinforced concrete. Most acquire skills through practical experience and professional development courses. 98% of interviewees recognize the importance of specific insights, suggesting the need for both short and long-term training events.

In this context, discussion between professionals is essential. The “Concreto Day” conferenceorganized within the European project CONCRETO, will be held on June 10th at the Polytechnic of Milan. During the event, experts will discuss techniques for reuse, restoration and renovation of reinforced concrete, presenting case studies such as the restoration of the Church of the Beata Vergine Immacolata in Bergamo, the renovation of the Corso Sardegna Market in Genoa and the recovery of the New Civic Library in Turin.

Future perspectives

The CONCRETO project, promoted by the Pier Luigi Nervi Foundation, is an example of collaboration between training institutions, universities and professionals. The CNI Councilor, Sandro Cattaand the President of the CNI Study Center, Marco Ghionnathey point out the importance of continuous professional development to keep the engineering category competitive.

Innovation in intervention techniques and the use of advanced materials such as fibre-reinforced materials require constant development of skills. Initiatives such as the CONCRETO project and thematic conferences contribute to stimulating debate and professional growth in the building systems engineering sector.

From the press release by Antonio Felici, head of the Press Office of the National Council of Engineers