University of Cambridge > > Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars > On the Assessment and Design of Compressed Structures

On the Assessment and Design of Compressed Structures

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This lecture addresses critical challenges and innovative solutions in the analysis and design of masonry structures, which constitute a significant portion of global architectural heritage. It will showcase work conducted by myself and various research groups I have collaborated with, focusing on developing new analytical and experimental methods for accurately analyzing such structures. Key topics include Membrane Equilibrium Analysis (MEA) and Linear Arch Static Analysis (LASA), both in its analytical and graphical forms. These static methods provide a fundamental understanding of the equilibrium and stress distributions within masonry structures. Furthermore, the presentation will delve into numerical kinematic methods based on block analysis, which offer insights into the dynamic behavior of these constructions under various load conditions. A significant portion of the lecture will be dedicated to laboratory experiments conducted on scaled models of masonry arches. These experiments aim to elucidate the dynamic behavior of masonry structures, providing a solid empirical basis for the theoretical and computational models presented. Additionally, case studies of notable structures that have been designed and assessed using these methods will be discussed. Among these, the Angelus Novus Vault built in occasion of the 2023 Venice Architectural Biennale and the SOM pavilion for COP28 in Dubai will be highlighted, demonstrating the practical implications of the research and the potential for integrating traditional masonry techniques with modern engineering principles to create resilient, efficient, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing structures.


Carlo Olivieri is Assistant Professor of Structural Mechanics at Pegaso University, and was previously Assistant Professor at the University of Salerno. He has collaborated closely with the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University, and holds an adjunct professorship at the Polytechnical University of Bari. In his Ph.D., he developed Linear Arch Static Analysis, extending classical Thrust Line methods to study curved masonry and concrete spatial structures. His current research focuses on innovative optimization strategies for purely compressive shapes under seismic conditions and the use of low-carbon material blocks for construction. In 2023, he served as structural engineer and site manager for the Angelus Novus vault at the Venice Architectural Biennale, in collaboration with Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) and Princeton University.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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