Following the MAXXI exhibition on Pier Luigi Nervi, the voyage of the “La Giuseppa” fishing boat designed by the famed engineer and built entirely in “ferrocement”, continues. For the 150th anniversary of Italian Unity, the 60th of the FA0 organisation’s move to Rome and the opening of the 35th session of the General Commission for Mediterranean Fisheries, the exhibition “Pier Luigi Nervi for FAO” was inaugurated at the organisation’s headquarters in Rome. The initiative is sponsored by the Italian Permanent Mission to the UN in Rome, with the collaboration of Rome’s Tor Vergata University and MAXXI Architecture, and the support of the Italcementi Group.
An Italian story: Nervi and his fishing boats for FAO
In March 1967 FAO commissioned Pier Luigi Nervi to design two fishing boats in “ferrocement” to be placed in Egypt’s artificial Nasser Lake to promote fishing, recognized as a valid instrument for combating poverty.
The project, which involved Nervi’s free contribution, called for the two boats to be built in Rome, an instruction manual for building them and the subsequent training of local manpower to reproduce boats like them. The fabrication system designed by Nervi was exceptionally economical, rapid and easy to learn, even for unskilled labourers.
Despite numerous other commitments, Nervi responded enthusiastically to FAO’s proposal, which allowed him to resume the experimentation he had never completely abandoned. Immediately after the Second World War, Nervi applied his main invention to the construction of these boats: a new material called “ferrocement” that he had patented in 1943.
Contact was re-established between Nervi and FAO in the summer of 1969. The two boats, one 7.5 and the other 10 metres, were built on the Nervi firm’s premises in La Magliana and launched from the port of Fiumicino. Two years later another two boats, destined for other African lakes, were built in the context of the same fisheries development programme. None of these prototypes has survived, however, and only “La Giuseppa”, built in those same years with the same techniques, is left to tell the tale.
“La Giuseppa” was exhibited to the public in the MAXXI museum’s main plaza during the exhibition Pier Luigi Nervi. Architecture as a challenge. Rome, ingenuity and construction