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Restoration and Biodivesity
Virtuous examples of coexistence

Sole attraverso i rami

What is biodiversity and why is it so important?

Biodiversity is the richness of life and the variety of life forms and environments of the Earth. Strengthen the productivity of any ecosystem; of an agricultural land, a forest, a lake, and so on. The loss of biodiversity contributes to food and energy insecurity, increases vulnerability to natural disasters, decreases the level of health within society, reduces the availability and quality of water resources and impoverishes cultural traditions. Each species, no matter whether small or large, plays and plays a specific role in the ecosystem in which it lives and precisely by virtue of its role helps the ecosystem to maintain its vital balance. Even a species that is not endangered on a global scale can play an essential role on a local scale. Its decrease at this scale will have an impact on habitat stability.



Why should we plan for biodiversity?

We live in an increasingly globalized world; for this reason, it is of fundamental importance to become aware of the fact that biodiversity, including cultural diversity, is a heritage of all humanity and deserves respect and protection. Each of us in our small way can make a difference.




Swifts have accompanied man since the Neolithic, adapting to exploit niches, cracks and cavities in buildings. They are a presence linked to the summer, they have a fascinating biology that make them one of the most popular birds. If man has marked their evolutionary success, in recent decades it is the cause of an important decrease in European populations, caused by the correct modernization of cities which, however, entails the disastrous consequence of the closure of cavities.

used to build nests, effectively erasing the colonies. Protecting swifts means entering into a collaboration agreement between those involved in the conservation of biodiversity, those who design cities and those who protect their historical and artistic heritage, in order to harmonize building practices with the ecological needs of these animals.


 Man - animal

Growing urbanization in Italy has brought with it a profound change in the relationship between man and animal. As cities grow and occupy new spaces, they often overlook the habitat of wild animals. In many cases, these species are forced to live, in spite of themselves, in artificial contexts, where criticalities emerge in a very short time, producing enormous animal suffering and increasing social and economic costs. it is therefore important to evaluate and rethink the policies and methods of coexistence with these species, for the well-being of humans and animals. We must remember that we too, like them, are guests on this planet; we must learn to live with animal species, without overwhelming them.



Autumn and spring are periods of displacement for migratory birds and very delicate moments because the animals are tired and more vulnerable. In this area, in the heart of the city of Milan, Common Swifts and Major Swifts nest, recognizable by their brown-black plumage, slender body, long and narrow sickle-shaped wings and short, forked tail.



How to recognize the nest of common swifts?

The nest is stuffed with vegetable fibers and feathers and covered with saliva, it is placed inside cavities of all kinds. Swifts originally found suitable cavities in rock faces and trees; today they reproduce almost exclusively in niches of buildings. With renovations and new constructions these are often lost, but with special nest boxes or with the installation of artificial cavities it is possible to create replacement nesting sites.


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The greater swifts need architectural structures with cavities suitable for their larger dimensions and their different reproductive sociality, often based on the sharing of common spaces. The types of cavities used by common swifts in Italy are the most disparate and include above all the pontoon holes and other openings on the walls of historic buildings that locally allow the establishment of showy and important colonies, often of several species.

To help the swifts to proliferate, the pontoon holes should preferably have large dimensions (over 20 cm in height) and take into account important details for the individual case and to obtain the main effects; that is to say a comfortable environment, suitably darkened and protected from the intrusions of predators, obtainable for example with a diaphragm that closes the opening but equipped at its base with a suitable slot.



What is Living Monuments?

An association with the aim of studying and enhancing urban biodiversity, identifying and certifying the Living Monuments present in inhabited centers.

What is a Living Monument?

A Living Monument is a building, ancient or modern, whose architectural characteristics have determined the settlement of colonies of swifts, during the reproductive period, and of other beneficial species.


How does a building become a Living Monument?


Through self-certification that defines the faunal and architectural details of the monument that can be filled in from the main site of the association.  The identification of colonies of swifts nesting in a building allows it to be certified as a Living Monument and to implement the necessary safeguards in the event of renovations and restorations.




Restoration respectful of biodiversity, this is how the Living Monuments project is defined. Each tower, in its wall structure has open pontoon holes, used in the medieval period as a place to house the joists of the scaffolding. These have been, with this noble project, prepared so that they can selectively house small birds, bats, swifts but not pigeons.

Swift protection is inextricably linked to the presence and conservation of suitable nesting sites. If currently the swifts are considered at the Italian and European level as species with a lower conservation risk, in the future, they risk drastic decreases in populations, following the progressive loss of sites suitable for reproduction, caused by the restructuring of the buildings that house the nests and by the closing of the pontoon holes in the buildings.

The pontoon holes, in addition to hosting the swifts and representing an important architectural element for their conservation, host other species, such as bats, which more generally frequent historical buildings for reproduction or rest.

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Swifts build their nests in the cavities of buildings that have not been experienced by humans; towers, attics and bridge holes once used for scaffolding.



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The intervention involved the restoration of the Towers of the Pusterla of Sant'Ambrogio which represents one of the three entrance gates that remain part of the circle of medieval walls that surrounded the city of Milan (together with Porta Ticinese and Porta Nuova). We found ourselves in front of two towers with very different characteristics, one in fact was rebuilt during the restoration of the 1930s and therefore presents great construction regularity, the other tower instead maintains its medieval structure and carries all the traces of the changes it has undergone over time. The Pusterla had in fact been incorporated into other buildings and was itself no longer a defensive function but housing. The construction site also had the particularity of carrying out a "restoration tailored to the wild", the meeting between the company, the designer and the Progetto Natura Onlus Association allowed the selective closure system of the holes to be implemented. bridges of the highest tower, preventing access to these to troublesome species such as pigeons, but safeguarding the possibility of nesting for swifts. This allows the protection of the volatile fauna of Milan and the restoration of the Pusterla was the first case in the city for the application of this solution.



Watch the video during the restoration of the Pusterla Towers.





The restoration of the medieval tower of Villa involved the recovery of all the external surfaces, made of Moltrasio stone with the exception of a small portion of plaster, the removal of the flooring and the roof covering of the terrace and the construction of the new terracotta flooring. . The degradation present before the conservation operations carried out consisted mainly of a widespread and consistent layer of surface deposit and important biological attacks that almost completely covered the surfaces, hiding their colors.

  • The cleaning operation has been extended to all types of material, adopting controlled pressure hydro-washing as the main operation, promptly intervening with micro-sandblasting operations on the surface portions of the most stubborn deposits.

  • After the cleaning operations, we continued with the consolidation by injection of the parts in the detachment phase of the only portion of ancient plaster present and consolidation of the cortical layer with ethyl silicate in the areas where it was particularly disintegrated.

  • Subsequently we proceeded to intervene on the joints, proceeding to lower the grouting above the level made during the previous interventions and removing the elements made of cement mortar.

  • Then grouting and sealing of stylings between the joints and small surface cracks of the stone material were carried out by applying lime mortar and selected aggregates. Where the concrete elements were particularly tough, it was decided to intervene by applying glazes to the potassium silicates, with the aim of chromatically balancing the surface.

  • The next phase of the restoration involved the external flooring of the terrace, first of all by removing the old flooring, the waterproof covering and the flaps along the masonry.

  • The metal frames were degreased and repainted in the same color as the existing one, gray outside and white inside, with a special opaque metal enamel, and finally the glass was replaced.

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The cavities in the walls of the San Fruttuoso Tower are an excellent place to nest. Here the birds have found a place in the pontoon holes, historically used for the scaffolding of the scaffolding. In the case of San Fruttuoso, work was carried out at the Torre Doria to safeguard the pale swift, a protected bird that nests in that place for a few months a year. The restoration work carried out on the tower took into consideration the presence of these important birds, observed and examined during a territorial research.

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During the interventions the nesting was respected by creating special openings in the sheets of the scaffolding to allow the passage to the flight of the swifts. But not only that: during the intervention the decision was not to close or modify in any way the passage to the holes of the tower once the presence of the Swifts' nests had been verified.

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Let yourself be transported to the Ligurian territory.

Click on the button if you want to learn more about the subject by viewing the TORRE DORIA construction site.