The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi recently met with acclaimed architect Renzo Piano to discuss reconstruction strategies following the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy last week, killing more than 290 people.

Following the meeting where the architect was asked to take the lead in reconstruction and disaster prevention work, PM Renzi launched a national plan for quake and risk prevention. The discussions with Renzo Piano also covered housing strategies for survivors and rebuilding works in medieval towns.

The massive quake has left the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto in ruins and displaced up to 3,000 people. With many still missing, volunteers, police and firefighters are working their way through the debris as they search for survivors and victims.

In the first phase of the Italian Government’s rehabilitation plan, 2,900 displaced residents from the 58 tent camps and other shelters will be moved to lightweight wooden houses within the next six months. The second phase of the plan will involve reconstruction of the damaged central Italian towns.

Piano, on his part, is pushing for stronger building laws to make structures earthquake-resistant and ensure the safety of both public and private buildings with appropriate anti-seismic regulations. Additionally, Piano has also proposed a comprehensive plan to protect Italy’s public buildings, homes and cultural sites over the next 50 years. Though this plan involves millions of buildings, the 78-year-old architect believes it can be achieved if it’s done over at least a couple of generations.

Having worked with UNESCO and gained experience in high-risk quake zones in Japan and California, Piano says a subtle scientific approach is required to make buildings safe. Though issues such as corruption, bureaucracy and illegality act as stumbling blocks in Italy, he is optimistic about the country overcoming these obstacles.

Former Emilia Romagna governor Vasco Errani is being appointed by the Government as special commissioner to oversee post-quake reconstruction.

Image: Tent camp in Arquata del Tronto for people displaced by the earthquake (Photograph: Cristiano Chiodi/EPA)