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Church of Santa Caterina D’Alessandria

The church of St. Catherine of Alexandria was one of the last works by Ferdinando Fuga; built in 1700, was seriously damaged by the powerful earthquake that struck the city of L’Aquila in 2009. The church is characterized by a central-plan with elliptical shape; the perimeter is over 90 m and the maximum height is approximately 20 m. The dome was richly decorated with stucco and finished with a lantern which is fully collapsed. The intersection of the ellipse with an elongated geometric matrix generate a series of compartments characterised by huge openings : in the deepest one takes place the major altar, on the opposite side of the access compartment. Along the axis there are two wide doors; the one on the left bring to the sacristy, which looks like a large room with a vault decorated with stucco; the door on the right takes to the part intended to vestibule.

After a preliminary analysis of the damage caused by the earthquake to the entire complex, the church appeared widely and severely damaged in all its bearing walls; the most critical part was the dome, crossed by numerous fissures and affected by the collapse of the top portion of the lantern. Also the main facade showed a detachment from the rest of the structure with tipping outward. Other evident mechanisms of collapse were the shear slump on the side walls.

The restoration project of the complex of Santa Caterina starts from the requirement of extensive repairs on all vertical structures that have lost their bearing capacity. The key intervention has been so identified in the undo-redo, accompanied by injections of consolidating mixtures, to be performed on most of the structure. This choice has been made to ensure, as far as possible, the respect of the traditional techniques and the use of  materials homogeneous with the existing ones.

Other planned interventions were: the replacement of existing roof , deteriorated and partially collapsed, with a new wooden roof; the rebuilt of the summit lantern; the installation, where possible, of metal tie-beam; the reinforcement with FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymers)of valuable elements; the realization of metal roof curbs and the consolidation of vaults and of masonry arches with steel fibers on a mortar matrix.

The purpose of the project is to restore the social and cultural function of the architectural asset and give back to the city a key monument for its social life; the project therefore, is only the first step to a wider work: reconnect the  the artistic heritage with the urban fabric, contributing to the opening of a new phase of the architectural history in one of the most significant historical cities of Italy.

Site

L'Aquila

Year

2012

Phase

Realized

Client

Consortium Santa Caterina