Stainless steel is often at the heart of contemporary architecture and building projects, which in recent years often involve adding on to, conserving, or modernising pre-existing structures. The aim of these projects is to increase security, improve the buildings’ functionality, and very often, to conserve their cultural value. But is it possible to renovate “old” spaces while maintaining their original integrity?

In Italy there are numerous examples of historic buildings that for safety reasons require structural renovation, and in many of these stainless steel is an essential material for their modernisation. Naturally, renovation projects with the most evident use of stainless steel include those in which the buildings are younger than 100 years old, however there are also excellent engineering examples where steel has been used to reinforce antique buildings’ safety and improve their internal structure. In Friuli Venezia Giulia, there is the example of Basilica di Aquileia where tourists are now able to view the splendid mosaic floors thanks to a glass and stainless steel platform, leaving the mosaics protected from humans’ footsteps.

In the case of the archaeological site of Efeso a cover was installed to protect against the elements, which in years past had almost wiped out the precious site. The canopy covers 4,000 square metres and blends with the surrounding landscape thanks to its support columns that have been positioned according to the excavation locations.

The Prague Botanical Gardens feature a greenhouse from the seventeenth century on the side of the Royal Palaces gardens. The garden’s new greenhouse is the same size as the original and in the same location, but features contemporary design, and is structurally capable of sustaining heavy weights and withstanding the effects of the elements. The greenhouse’s roof is made of stainless steel pipes which hold diagonal glass panels in place, ending in a cross juncture. The result is noteworthy in its beauty and has been copied by other architectural projects over the years.

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