Home 9 Research projects 9 INFORTREAT. Reconstructing the Early Modern bastioned front Coordinators: M. G. Bevilacqua (Principal Investigator – PI) with R. Spallone (vice PI), A. Giordano, M. Russo

INFORTREAT. Reconstructing the Early Modern bastioned front Coordinators: M. G. Bevilacqua (Principal Investigator – PI) with R. Spallone (vice PI), A. Giordano, M. Russo


The main objective of the project is to translate the knowledge contained in treatises on military architecture (from the 16th to the 18th century) into virtual environments, including through 2D and 3D digital representations that can be readily consulted and interpreted on a freely accessible web-based digital platform, primarily for research and conservation purposes (restoration projects, maintenance plans, etc.), as well as for higher education and other activities promoted by public and private entities in the field of Cultural Heritage. Building Information Modeling (BIM) techniques will be applied for the creation of digital informative models.

One of the central activities for the project is to investigate the construction techniques for the realization of fortification systems in the modern age. The fundamental tools for understanding the widespread technical knowledge among military engineers active between the 17th and 18th centuries are the treatises, which – through accurate descriptions, diagrams, and illustrations – provide insight into the most well-known technologies of the time and an idea of the organization of large military construction sites.

The selection process carried out on the extensive theoretical production prioritizes treatises that provide technical information on the construction of bastions, which form a solid basis for the development of digital information models of regular bastioned fronts, subsequently enabling the transition to source-based and reality-based BIM models (the latter relating to the two case studies described later), whose development is coordinated by the unit in Padua.

The project also aims to delve into two case studies: the walls of Lucca and the Citadel of Alessandria, which will be addressed by the units in Pisa and Turin, respectively.

The Citadel of Alessandria is an 18th-century military engineering work among the most extensive and best-preserved in Europe: a sector of the walls and the Santa Cristina bastion will be analyzed, which still retains its structure dating back to the first half of the 18th century, designed by the Piedmontese architect Ignazio Bertola.

The new digital surveys, coordinated by the unit in Rome, and the analysis of the theoretical context of the fortified system through the study of Italian, French, and Spanish military treatises from the mid-18th century will allow framing the Alexandrian work within a broader cultural milieu.

The project is based on historical-archival research and numerous field inspections carried out during a previous collaborative project between the Polytechnic University of Turin and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (“The History of the Citadel of Alessandria from the 1730s to the 20th century”). These investigations open new perspectives for further studies and interventions aimed at the conservation and enhancement of this important historical and cultural heritage.

The inclusion of the case study in the current PRIN 2022 project takes place within the framework of authorization for access and data sharing by the Ministry of Culture, the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Landscape for the Provinces of Alessandria, Asti, and Cuneo.

Link to the official page

    Research units’ leaders

    Marco Giorgio Bevilacqua (PI), University of Pisa Contact: marco.giorgio.bevilacqua@unipi.it 

    Roberta Spallone (vice PI), Politecnico di Torino Contact: roberta.spallone@polito.it 

    Andrea Giordano, University of Padua Contact: andrea.giordano@unipd.it

    Michele Russo, University of Rome “La Sapienza” Contact : m.russo@uniroma1.it

    Unit 2: Politecnico di Torino 

    Personnel of the research unit:  

    Roberta Spallone, Edoardo Piccoli, Marco Vitali 

    Valentina Burgassi, Rosa Maria Marta Caruso, Fabrizio Natta, Martino Pavignano, Enrico Pupi 


    Short Bibliography

    Anna Marotta (a cura di), La Cittadella di Alessandria, una fortezza per il territorio dal Settecento all’Unità, Alessandria: Cassa di Risparmio di Alessandria, 1991. 

    Émilie d’ Orgeix, Portefeuilles de plans : projets et œuvres d’ingénieurs militaires en Europe du XVIe au XIXe siècle, Bourges, Archives Départementales du Cher / Paris, Centre d’Etude d’histoire de la Défense, novembre 2001, p. 204 (avec V. Maroteaux) 

    Giovanni Durbiano, Luca Reinerio (a cura di), Riabitare la fortezza. Idee per la cittadella di Alessandria, Torino: Umberto Allemandi & Co, 2002. 

    Amelio Fara, The Citadel of Alessandria: Giuseppe Ignazio Bertola’s Architectural Infraction of the Hexagon’s Geometrical Regularity. In “Nexus Network Journal”, nov. 2014, pp. 777-773. 

    Amelio Fara, Giuseppe Ignazio Bertola (1676-1755): il disegno e la lingua dell’architettura militare, Firenze: Angelo Pontecorboli Editore, 2015. 

    Pascal Brioist, Dessiner et construire un bastion à la Renaissance. Dans Robert Carvais, Anne-Françoise Garçon, André Grelon (dir). “Penser la technique autrement XVIe-XXIe siècle, en hommage à l’œuvre d’Hélène Vérin”, Histoire des techniques – n°10, Études, n° 6, Classiques Garnier, 2017, pp. 205-231.

    Edoardo Piccoli, Cesare Tocci, A prova di bomba. Ingegneri, architetti e teorie sulle volte in un cantiere militare di metà Settecento. In “ARCHISTOR”, 12, 2019, pp. 212-251.  

    Edoardo Piccoli et al. Building on water in the Modern State. Eighteenth century foundation techniques in the fortifications of Alessandria. In “6th Conf. of the Construction History Society”, 2019, pp. 358-373. 

    Edoardo Piccoli, The “architecture parlante” of an 18th century fort. In Vigliocco Elena (a cura di), “Riuso del patrimonio oversize. Un progetto adattivo per la Cittadella di Alessandria”. Torino: Politecnico di Torino, 2021, pp. 68-79. 

    Edoardo Piccoli, Cesare Tocci, The buildings inside the Citadel of Alessandria: architectural and construction history. In Coricelli F., Martini L., Robiglio M. (a cura di), “The Future Urban Legacy Lab: A report 2017-2021″, Torino: Politecnico di Torino, 2021, pp. 91-97.