The world of cultural heritage restoration, particularly in architecture, unfolds along a complex path that combines tradition and innovation. The degradation phenomena that affect various types of materials constituting these assets depend on the natural aging of the material itself, incorrect or lack of maintenance, and are accelerated by environmental factors. Research, therefore, aims to synthesize and refine products that can sanitize these phenomena and reduce maintenance costs and time, while adhering to the principles of restoration theory: recognizability, reversibility, compatibility, and minimal intervention.

Through careful study and leveraging the experience of Piacenti SpA, active since 1875, the main degradation phenomena that significantly impact the conservation of cultural heritage, historic buildings, and monuments can be attributed to coherent/incoherent deposits, biodeterioration, lesions, and microlesions (such as cracks and detachments). Challenges in using materials for restoration interventions are linked to compatibility with original materials, reversibility, durability, resistance to mechanical and/or seismic stresses, toxicity to workers and the environment. These factors effectively limit the use and experimentation of materials and products that could sometimes be suitable.

The present project aims to study and experiment with technological solutions for restoring the structural functionality of architectural elements, whether made of wood or masonry. This will be achieved through the development of new composite materials that can integrate sensors (such as accelerometers, inclinometers, and humidity sensors) inside them. These sensors will serve to monitor the structural integrity, ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the intervention over time.

The proposed technological advancement considers comprehensive experimentation and validation at the NEXT Technology and CNR laboratories, adhering to criteria and principles of low environmental impact while preserving their effectiveness through Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) analysis.

The technological advancements suggested will have economic implications for both Piacenti SpA and the entire target audience, including public and private entities responsible for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage. This will be achieved through the reduction of COSTS and EXECUTION TIMES for restoration and renovation interventions on architectural structures, facilitated by technological progress and the transfer of know-how from the involved research partners.

The project activities will involve direct engagement with stakeholders interested in optimizing resources allocated for maintenance. The selected pilot sites suitable for in-situ testing, where the project lead is currently involved, are as follows: Cantiere dei Grandi Uffizi in Florence, Palazzo dei Vescovi in Pistoia, Fontana dei Leoni in Empoli, and Cimitero monumentale delle Porte Sante in San Miniato, Florence.

Partner Introduction:


Piacenti Spa is a company based in Prato that specializes in the design and execution of restoration and conservation activities for protected buildings, complex monuments, and historically significant artistic assets. The company’s technical activities are detailed on their official website.


Next Technology Tecnotessile is a Research Organization with a mixed public-private capital structure (40% owned by the Ministry of Education, University and Research – MIUR, and the remaining 60% by manufacturing companies). Founded in Prato in 1972, its main purpose is to be a reference hub for technology transfer, innovation, research support, development, and technical training for textile, fashion, and mechanical textile industries. Initially established under the law 1089 of 25/10/1968, which created a fund for applied research, the organization now extends its research and development activities to other related sectors like technical textiles, composite materials, and chemistry. Additionally, it collaborates with more distant industries such as paper, leather, accessories, advanced automation, logistics, and information and communication technology (ICT) through research, development, and technology transfer projects.


The Institute of Cultural Heritage Sciences of the National Research Council (CNR-ISPC), particularly the Florence section (formerly the Institute for Conservation and Valorization of Cultural Heritage), conducts research and development in the conservation and valorization of cultural assets. The CNR-ISPC possesses a strong multidisciplinary expertise with researchers specializing in chemistry, geology, biology, engineering, and architecture, enabling them to approach heritage-related issues holistically. The institute maintains a broad network of national and international collaborations with CNR institutions, universities, and other public and private entities dedicated to cultural heritage conservation. Their main focus lies in archaeometric characterization and interpretation, degradation mechanisms identification, development of analytical and conservation protocols, as well as the enhancement and enjoyment of cultural artifacts and their conservation context. CNR-ISPC is actively engaged in instrumental development, working closely with local and foreign companies in the creation of conservation tools and methodologies. Their competencies and research lines align well with the proposed industrial research and experimental development activities of the project, complementing the technological and thematic expertise. The instrumentation available at CNR-ISPC is strategically and critically important for the project, both in the prototype development and validation phases. In addition to the typical laboratory equipment for material characterization of cultural heritage (petrographic microscopes, XRD, ESEM-EDX, and more), CNR-ISPC possesses a considerable number of portable instruments (FT-IR, FORS UV-Vis-NIR, XRF, photogrammetry, SfM 2D/3D, UV-Vis-IR imaging techniques, sensors for chemical-physical parameters measurement – moisture content, salt content, surface and internal cohesion with UPV and rebound). The institute has a track record of numerous R&D projects at regional, national, and international levels.