Annalisa Trentin: Architecture and Construction: A Structural Declension from Eiffel to Koolhaas

The two towers that form the base of the Eiffel tower under construction

The Tour Eiffel, by Gustave Eiffel, under construction in Paris in the late 1800s. photo / provided

Annalisa Trentin studied at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, where she received an M.A. in 1992. She was an assistant professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Politecnico di Milano, and Università di Bologna. Since 2001, she has been an associate professor in architectural and urban composition at the Università di Bologna; she is also the deputy director of the Department of Architecture and was the coordinator of the Ph.D. program in architecture until 2016.

Trentin does research and teaches architectural design at the School of Engineering and Architecture, mainly investigating the relationship between theory and architecture of the 20th century. In this field, she has also conducted research on engineering and architecture, focusing her attention on the relationship between theory and practice and on the value of structural design.

Currently, Trentin coordinates an international research group on the figure of Pier Luigi Nervi, in cooperation with Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione dell'Università di Parma, MAXXI Museum, and Princeton University. For several years, with the support of the Ungers Archiv für Architekturwissenschaft Cologne, she has studied the theoretical work of Oswald Mathias Ungers.

She is the author of many projects, essays, and several books, including Oswald Mathias Ungers, una scuola (2004) La lezione di Aldo Rossi (2008); La lezione di Pier Luigi Nervi (2010); and Architettura e Costruzione: La declinazione strutturale da Gustave Eiffel a Rem Koolhaas (2016).


This lecture focuses on the relationship between structural engineering and architecture, through two fundamental aspects of construction: the scientific and the humanistic. In particular, the vision that Trentin would like to convey is the contribution that structural engineering can make to architecture in terms of conceptual engineering, through its various interpretations and with the consequent expressive potential of joint work between engineer and architect. This topic, which tends to identify the structural interpretations in architectural construction, is developed in full awareness that structural thinking does not necessarily constitute the only architectural interpretation. Instead, this research seeks to understand how structures can speak and how they can give cultural value to buildings. With the words of masters from Gustave Eiffel to Rem Koolhaas, Trentin attempts to create rules for contemporary project.