Domus Archive: the original report on the Morandi viaduct

Following the tragedy that has shaken Italy, we found preserved in our archives, the original project report on the great bridge built in Genoa between 1960 and 1967 by Riccardo Morandi.

Riccardo Morandi, Viadotto sul Polcevera, Genova, 1960-67 foto Arno Hammacher

“Architecture on a new scale.” So opened the article in Domus devoted to the project report on the Polcevera viaduct drafted by engineer Riccardo Morandi on 25 August 1967. It was then published with drawings and original photos in Domus 459 for February 1968. Previously unpublished, kept in the publisher’s archives, it explains the genesis of the construction of the great viaduct built between 1960 and 1967. After seven years’ work, the engineer Riccardo Morandi inaugurated what was then called “a great work of art with a unified conception”. A viaduct over one kilometre long suspended 45 metres above the ground, it promised to solve the problem of the city’s traffic by linking the Genoa-Savona and Genoa-Valle del Po motorways. This illusion endured for half a century, until the tragic morning of 14 August 2018.

The autograph document contains corrections and annotations that Morandi added by hand. It brings out many points that, in the light of the tragic outcome, appear complex and disquieting. They include the numerous critical aspects of the context of the work. The report describes the bridge as "of considerable size and technical interest, due to the fact that it is part of a densely built-up area containing civil and industrial buildings. Above all, it spans not just the Polcevera River but also a series of very important railway facilities.” This sheds light on the complex nature of the bridge’s setting, which is responsible for the immense difficulty of dismantling its remains, and very likely also for its maintenance in the past.

Kept for fifty years in the Domus Archives at Rozzano, the project report on the Polcevera viaduct was sent in its original form to the editors of Domus as documentary material for the composition of an article on the subject published in February 1968, just after the opening of the bridge. Hence it is an exceptional document, which Domus is presenting complete to its readers and anyone interested in understanding more about the events that have marked our time. Today as a half century ago.

Domus 459, February 1968
The cover of Domus 459, Febrauary 1968

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