12th International Conference on Structural Repairs and Maintenance of Heritage Architecture


5 - 7 September 2011
Chianciano Terme, Italy


STREMAH_200_x_250The 12th International Conference on Structural Repairs and Maintenance of Heritage Architecture (STREMAH 2011) has recently been held in Chianciano Terme, Tuscany, Italy, organised by the Wessex Institute of Technology (WIT), UK, represented by Professor Carlos A Brebbia and the Politecnico di Milano, represented by Professor Luigia Binda.

This conference, which started in Florence in 1989, has a long tradition of evolving and developing new topics of interest to the community.  It is without a doubt the foremost meeting of its type and attracts delegates from all over the world.

Modern society exerts considerable strains on architectural heritage, partly due to the increase in population and the associated demands on the built environment, and also because of the pernicious effects of pollution.  The difficulties and costs of repairs and maintenance contribute to the neglect of important buildings in times of economic stress.  It is hence important that the research addresses not only technical questions, but solutions that can be implemented in practice, where social and economic conditions may be paramount.  The STREMAH conference fulfils the important function of bringing together experts from different disciplines and from all around the world to discuss problems of common interest and put forward solutions.

The STREMAH conferences over the years have evolved and addressed a wide range of interdisciplinary topics.  It has also provided many outstanding contributions with the conference books widely distributed throughout the world.  Furthermore, all papers from the 1993 conference up to the 2009 conference are available in Open Access format in the Wessex Institute eLibrary (  These, together with the STREMAH 2011 conference papers constitute a permanent record of the most significant work in the field.

 Opening Addresses

STREMAHThe meeting was opened by Professor Carlos A Brebbia who explained the work of the Wessex Institute of Technology and its function as a centre for the dissemination of knowledge.  This function is carried out in different ways, ranging from the organisation of international courses and conferences, to the training of researchers at PhD level.

WIT Press, the publishing arm of the Institute – Professor Brebbia said – is very active in the publication of different types of books other than conference proceedings and has now launched three importance International Scientific Journals, two of them associated with the topic of the conference; the International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning and the International Journal of Design and Nature & Ecodynamics.  All these publications are widely distributed throughout the world in digital as well as paper formats.

WIT – Professor Brebbia explained – lays great emphasis on the application of advanced research in practice, dealing with many partners around the world in the study of engineering and environmental problems using specially developed state-of-the-art computer techniques.  The Institute collaborates with industry as well as other academic partners in achieving the application of these methods.

STREMAH is one of the most interesting conferences organised by WIT – in great part because of its interdisciplinary character.  The meeting has been regularly reconvened every two years in the following locations;

  • Florence (1989)
  • Seville (1991)
  • Bath (1993)
  • Crete (1995)
  • San Sebastian (1997)
  • Dresden (1999)
  • Bologna (2001)
  • Halkidiki (2003)
  • Malta (2005)
  • Prague (2007)
  • Tallinn (2009)

Professor Luigia Binda then spoke about the importance of the conference and how the topics have continued to change over the years.  The work of the conference  - Professor Binda said – is recorded in the published books, whose quality is much higher than the usual conference proceedings.  This has led to most of the WIT conference books being included in the Index of Scientific and Technical Proceedings, a distinction that sets these books apart from those of other meetings.

 Invited Presentations

The conference attracted a series of outstanding papers, including the following invited presentations;

‘Conservation philosophy in action: examples of structural intervention in the United Kingdom and the export of national practices’
by J. D. Miller, Gifford and Partners, UK

‘Preservation of industrial heritage’
by S. Niederhagemann, German Mining Museum, Germany

‘Earthquake numerical simulation of the dynamic and earthquake behaviour of Greek Post-Byzantine churches with and without base isolation’
by G. C. Manos, Thessaloniki University, Greece

‘Towards a non-destructive methodology to distinguish wrought iron from mild steel in 19th century structures’
by I. Wouters, Free University of Brussels, Belgium

‘Renovation of the deck of a major listed bridge structure’
by R. Brueckner, Mott MacDonald, UK

‘Polonceau versus Ardant: efficiency versus aesthetics?’
by M. de Bouw, Artesis University College, Antwerp, Belgium

‘The monitoring of world heritage sites during construction works in their vicinity: the case of Casa Milà and of the Church of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain’
by W. Jäger, University of Dresden, Germany

‘Numerical models to predict the creep behaviour of brick work’
by A. Taliercio, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

‘Mechanical, hygric and thermal properties of innovative renovation renders’
by R. Cerný, Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic

‘Maintenance management success factors for heritage building: a framework’
by Z. A. Akasah, University Tun Hussein Onn, Malaysia

‘Vulnerability of Machu Pichu citadel 100 years after its scientific discovery’

by C. Cuadra, Akita Prefectural University, Japan

 Conference Topics

The meeting covered a wide range of work, grouped into the following sections;

  • Heritage architecture and the historical aspects
  • Assessment and reuse of heritage buildings
  • Modern (19th /20th century) heritage
  • Structural restoration of metallic structures
  • Regional architecture
  • Prevention and monitoring
  • Stone masonry walls
  • Heritage masonry buildings
  • Earth construction
  • Wooden structures
  • Materials characterization
  • Non-destructive techniques
  • Performance and maintenance
  • Simulation and modelling
  • Seismic vulnerability

 International Scientic Advisory Committee

STREMAH_ISACThe International Scientific Advisory Committee met to discuss the way the conference is progressing and how to improve the next meeting, to take place in 2013.  A new list of topics was proposed and the focus of the conference analysed.  It was suggested to change the title slightly in line with the current interests of the meeting (but without changing its acronym).  Several possible locations and venues were put forward and they are going to be investigated by the WIT Conference Division.  The general feeling is that the meeting is progressing well and continues to attract not only well-established researchers but also a younger generation which will ensure the stability of future conferences.

 Social Events

STREMAH_churchAt the end of the second day the delegates were invited to an organ recital that took place in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Montepulciano.  The church has a unique wooden organ dating from the 17th century, the only complete instrument of its type in the world.  The recital was performed by Pier Paulo Strona, an Adjunct Professor at WIT who, after a successful career at FIAT, now dedicates time and energies to his love of music.  The recital consisted of pieces by Italian composers and others belonging to the Italian School, including Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726), Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1710), Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785), Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) and Giovanni Battista Pescetti (1704-1766) amongst other organ music composers.

Following the recital, delegates participated in a banquet consisting of seafood and fish prepared at an excellent local restaurant.  The occasion was most friendly and at the end the participants were offered a CD with organ music played by Pier Paulo.

 Publication of Papers

The proceedings of Structural Studies, Repairs and Maintenance of Heritage Architecture XII, 784pp (Print ISBN: 978-1-84564-526-7; Online ISSN: 1743-3509) are available in paper and digital format from WIT Press priced at £337/US$674/€472. Orders can be placed on the WIT Press web site at or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223 or fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853.

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as Volume 118 of WIT Transactions on the Built Environment (Online ISSN: 1743-3509). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at