After a series of earthquakes in 1783 destroyed thousands of buildings in Calabria, the Bourbon government which ruled southern Italy introduced a system of construction designed to minimize future damage and to save lives. The building system, called la casa baraccata, was based on the sophisticated notion that structures must respond to seismic disturbances as units. The system was based on an internal framework of wood members embedded in the rubble construction which was common in Calabria. Height limitations, foundations, and special "x" bracing to counter lateral forces were also part of the system that was invented in Calabria and promulgated as the construction code in 1785. It represents one of the earliest concerted responses to earthquake danger and one which was lauded by early 20th-century engineers as a practical means of providing safe construction in earthquake country.
- Copyright 1983 The Society of Architectural Historians