The history

…A little bit of history…

On November 5, 1958, in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic Giovanni Gronchi, Politecnico di Torino was inaugurated. The construction of the new building in Corso Duca degli Abruzzi provided the Faculty of Engineering with a new seat after the destruction of the previous one in Piazzale Valdo Fusi due to the bombings of the Second World War.

Politecnico di Torino, founded in 1906 and born from the unification of the Regia Scuola di Applicazione per gli Ingegneri (Law 13 November 1859, n. 3725, of public education) with the Regio Museo Industriale Italiano (Royal Decree, 23 November 1862 on the initiative of Senator Giuseppe De Vicenzi), finally found an operational place.

It was organized in about twenty Institutes, and five of them will contribute, in stages, to the formation of the present DIATI.

They were the Institute of Mining Art, the Institute of Geology and Mineral Deposits, the Institute of Topography and Geodesy, the Institute of Hydraulics and Hydraulic Constructions, the Institute of Transport and Roads, the Institute of Industrial Organization. From the first three in 1981 the Department of Georesources and Territory (DIGET since 1983) was born, named Department of Environment, Land and Geotechnology (DITAG) from 2000 to 2012.

In 1958 the Institute of Transport and Roads and the Institute of Industrial Organization were merged into the Institute of Transport and Industrial Organization. This latter Institute joined the one of Hydraulics and Hydraulic Constructions on 1 January 1993 to form the Department of Hydraulics, Transport and Civil Infrastructure (DITIC). 

Forerunner of the formation process of the Department of Geo-resources and Land, in the first instance, was Professor Aldo Bibolini (Rector of Politecnico di Torino from 1938 to 1945).

From 1920 he had already obtained the chair of Mining Technology and later he taught Mining Art, Geology and Mining Fields until his death in 1949.

Eclectic character, he took care of the organization of the collections that unfortunately were largely dispersed after the war destruction but that, later, were given to the Institutes of origin for educational purposes and research. An example above all is the wonderful collection of minerals stored at the premises of DIATI that, despite the numerous removals to and from the Castle of Valentino, managed to survive.

Inspired by the work of Bibolini, in the new Politecnico (1958), two Institutes were established, based on his experience: one in Mining Art and one in Mineral Deposits and Applied Geology under the guidance of Professor Lelio Stragiotti (from 1949 to 1982) and Professor Stefano Zucchetti (from 1972 to 1983).

In 1981 there were profound changes in the university organization following the process of the departmentalization, which tended to give the new structures the title of scientific research with the amalgamation of several institutes with compatible activities. The formation of the Departments was complex and delicate and, at that stage, in 1982 Lelio Stragiotti was elected Rector of Politecnico and with his undoubted negotiating and organizational skills, he achieved the goal of the departmentalization of the University. 

Regarding the constitution of the DIGET (Italian acronym of Department of Geo-resources and Land), from the beginning, the merge covered only the Institutes of Mining Art with Topography and Geodesy and, as first Director, there was Prof. Sebastiano Pelizza (1982-1983).

In 1983 the Institute of Mineral Deposits and Applied Geology decided to join the Department of Geo-resources and Land and Prof. Bruno Astori (1983-1986), coming from the former Institute of Topography and Geodesy, followed the first director. This Institute was located in a different area of the university complex and its amalgamation involved, therefore, a series of displacements and building works of expansion that characterized the following decades.

Prof. Astori was followed by Prof. Giulio Gecchele (DIGET 1986-1989/1991-1993/1994-1999), Prof. Gaetano Ranieri (DIGET 1989-1992), Prof. Sergio Dequal (DITAG 1999-2007), Prof. Mariachiara Zanetti (DITAG 2007-2012/ DIATI 2012-2015).

In parallel with the achievement of university autonomy, in the nineties, the country had developed a new awareness of the needs of environmental protection, landscape conservation, artistic heritage and job safety.

New study issues and economic change that had, in practice, almost zeroed the extractive activities of the country, forced DIGET to change direction and take the path of environmental recovery, protection and enhancement of the territory, harmonizing the creation of infrastructures with the new environmental awareness.

To implement the new academic direction, the name was transformed from DIGET to DITAG, an acronym for the Department of Land, Environmental and Geotechnology Engineering. 

In addition to the path of the three Institutes previously considered, the one of three other structures of the University had developed: the Institute of Hydraulics and Hydraulic Constructions, run at the beginning of the ‘60 by prof. Bruno Gentilini (Dean of the engineering faculty in 1958-1961) and then by prof. Giannatonio Pezzoli (director from 1965 to 1992), the Institute of Transport and Roads, and the Institute of Industrial Organization run by prof. Russo Frattasi (director from 1970 to 1992).

The last two in 1958 formed the Institute of Transport and Organization under the guidance of Vittorio Zignoli, at the time professor of Technology and Transport Economics, given the research affinities and the many points of contact with the new major works and facilities that in those years were carried out in correlation with the needs of transport demand and the industry related to it. A strategic integration between infrastructure, transport and industrial and state economy.

The Institute of Hydraulics and Hydraulic Construction and the Institute of Transport and Industrial Organization were unified on January 1, 1993 with the acronym of DITIC (Department of Hydraulics, Transport and Civil Infrastructure), first under the direction of prof. Russo Frattasi (1993-1996), then prof. Luigi Butera (1997-2004) and finally prof. Luca Ridolfi (2005-2012).

The aim of DITIC was to integrate scientific and technical skills, related to topics, research methodologies and applications, related to hydraulics, transport networks and related infrastructure overall, from design to operation.

Both Institutes could count on equipped laboratories for theoretical and applied research, the first one related to the hydraulic disciplines (Giorgio Bidone laboratory) and the second one related to tests on road materials and structures (experimental laboratory of High Quality LAQ) and to tests and research predominantly means and facilities.

The new Department focused its teaching and research activity on topics concerning Hydraulics, Hydraulic Constructions, Transport and Civil Infrastructure in general (Roads, Railways, Aqueducts, Sewerage, etc.) and with a strong impact on the protection and management of land.

Also related to the DITIC, teaching and issues linked to economic and organizational aspects of companies and plants, representable as micro territorial entities.

It should be remembered that the Institute of Hydraulics and Hydraulic Constructions brought to DITIC, and then to DIATI, the large and well-equipped laboratory dedicated to the eminent figure of Giorgio Bidone (1781-1839), a distinguished mathematician and professor at the University of Turin.

From the same University he was called, in 1811, to teach General Mechanics and Hydrodynamics with exercises to be carried out near the Tower of the outflows with whom the Plant of the Hydraulic Experiences called "of the Parrella" was equipped.

The Plant has its origins in 1763 by Decree of Carlo Emanuele III who commissioned the mathematician and plumber Domenico Michelotti for the project. Under the jurisdiction of the University, the Plant was equipped with a three-storey hydraulic tower for the feeding of the pressure motions and the processes of outflow under swing and a network of free-pile canals of various sizes and slopes.

The hydraulic tower was transferred to the Castello del Valentino in 1869 under the direction of Prospero Richelmy, professor of hydraulics and first Director of the Royal School of Application for Engineers.

In 1815 Giorgio Bidone was appointed by the University of Turin to the chair of Theoretical and Experimental Hydraulics and in 1818 Director of the Hydraulic Plant of Parrella, all this in relation to its scientific production oriented to research and applications for the solution of hydraulic problems of major importance in our region, already then characterized by an extensive network of channels for irrigation and production of driving force.

Thanks to Giorgio Bidone, it is enough to recall the study of the phenomenon of "hydraulic prominence" universally known as "Bidone’s jump". The knowledge of what Giorgio Bidone did, for hydraulics and in our geographical area, supports the decision taken at the time by the Institute of Hydraulics to name the Laboratory after him.

The path of the two Departments (DITAG and DITIC) gradually converged, on the first hand in response to the need, which emerged in the early years of the new century, to set up more complex and efficient research facilities and, on the other hand, to aggregate and rationalize resources and services such as the technical department, secretariats, libraries, security and computer systems, not forgetting the strict and mandatory parameters on the number of teachers interested in their implementation.

In essence, the phenomenon of the departmentalization of the Institutes was repeated on a larger scale with the merger of several Departments.

Between the DITAG and the DITIC the points of contact were already numerous, both in research and in teaching and the fusion then was natural and almost automatic: this has brought to the formation of the DIATI, or the Department of Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering, under the guide of the Professor Mariachiara Zanetti.

Timeline of DIATI’s direction:

01.01.2012-30.09.2015: prof.ssa Mariachiara Zanetti

01.10.2015-30.09.2019: prof. Rajandrea Sethi

01.10.2019-today         : prof. Francesco Laio