The expert's opinion / 9/11/2023
High performance materials with low environmental impact
Choosing the right products has enabled high performance to be achieved in surroundings with high saline aggression
The Construction Manager of Cobar SpA, the contractor in charge of the works on the Regium waterfront, talks about the technical and urbanistic problems encountered on this important site
What is the current status of the regeneration work along the seafront?
Work has been suspended for the time being until the local authority completes a new substation near the port, and this will then allow us to finish the redevelopment work in Via Florio, the only portion of the site that hasn’t been completed. In spite of the delay, this wonderful part of the coast was “handed back” to the residents of the city back in May 2021, once enough of the redevelopment work had been completed
What were the biggest technical and urbanistic problems you encountered on this important site?
It is inevitable to come across numerous problems when working on such a complex project extending over such a vast, rundown area: the amount of red-tape before the local authorities could repossess some of the areas to be worked on, the presence of numerous underground service networks built abusively over the years, operating while being closely controlled by the local archaeology authority, the need to organise work so that it would reduce its impact on the daily life of local residents to a minimum and the impact of the pandemic.
I must acknowledge, however, that from the moment we started working on site, we saw at first hand the will and effort of everyone to complete the work quickly and to a high standard: from the administration departments of the local council to the designers, from the residents passing through the areas around the site on almost a daily basis to see how work was progressing to the workforce that gave their full availability to work whenever necessary. I am proud of the role played by Cobar, which constantly ensured their presence and availability to oversee and review the schedule of works and site management activities in general, always ready to adapt the schedule as and when any technical or administrative issues arose. When all stakeholders have a common objective, difficulties can be overcome more quickly.
When all stakeholders have a common objective, difficulties can be overcome more quickly
The masterplan was drafted by Zaha Hadid Architects. How was the relationship between the main contractor, the public administration and the architects?
Overall, the relationship with the executive designers, representatives on site from Studio Artuso Architetti Associati and with the client, represented by staff from various departments of the local council, was completely symbiotic and collaborative. Obviously, there were the occasional moments of tension, but in these moments there was always mutual respect for everyone’s expertise and professionalism, so not only did they never have a damaging effect on how work progressed, they just highlighted the incredible will of everyone to achieve the objective.
What criteria did you use when choosing the products and materials required?
All too often, and too hastily in my opinion, in these cases there is a cliché whereby the only criteria for a construction company when choosing materials and products is to go for those with the lowest price.
For the site we are talking about the opposite was true. We opted for materials with high performance properties which have a low impact on the environment, are easy to maintain over the years and which had a consolidated background regarding their use and application. This choice was determined by Cobar’s consolidated business policy and this enabled the executive phases to be optimised and standardised and to be certain, from the outset, that the high performance expected, indispensable when creating structures and elements for public use in surroundings exposed to high levels of saline aggression, would be achieved.
How much did it help to be able to rely on cutting-edge, consolidated products such as those proposed by Mapei?
Using products that have been tested and certified, backed up with years of experimentation and research such as those proposed by Mapei, is undoubtedly a guarantee of reliability and safety for the entire production chain.
Not only do they guarantee the performance of an element or structure over time, they also enable the executive phases to be carried out more quickly, by-passing the on-site testing phase to evaluate their suitability, which is usually a slow, complex process.