‘Designed in Italy. Made in Australia.’ is the title of a new exhibition that is showcasing the comprehensive work developed during the 1960s and 70s by world-famous Italian structural engineer and innovator, Pier Luigi Nervi.

Currently on show at the Tin Sheds Gallery, The University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, the exhibition uses research, a series of original work and new documentation to reveal the contribution made by the revolutionary Italian master builder, architect and artist to the design and construction of Australia Square, and his application of new construction principles and methods.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Paolo Stracchi, lecturer in Architectural Technology from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, and is based on his research of the design and construction of Harry Seidler’s ground-breaking building, Australia Square and the contribution made by Nervi and his team.

While the structure was highly celebrated as the start of the new modernist movement in architecture and praised for its innovative design and technology, Seidler’s circular design presented engineering and architectural challenges during the build.

Upon Seidler’s insistence, Nervi was consulted, which led to the adoption of the Sistema Nervi (Nervi System) for the first time in Australia to shape the famous Nervi ceiling of Australia Square. The Italian engineer also suggested the adoption of permanent precast column formworks to shape and build the tapering columns in the iconic Australian tower.

Subsequently, this precast system was quickly adopted as the benchmark in the local construction field, going on to become the trademark for many buildings.

Visitors to the Designed in Italy. Made in Australia. exhibition can learn more about the fruitful collaboration between Nervi and Seidler; the unexpected affinities between the Italian and Australian construction industries; the Roman and Milanese precedents used in modern Sydney; and an unlikely connection between an Italian factory and a revered Australian skyscraper.


Tin Sheds Gallery, The University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, 148 City Road, Darlington until 7 September 2019 (Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11am – 5 pm).

Australia Square, 264 George Street, Sydney from 18 September - 10 October 2019 (Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10am – 5pm).