The first antiseismic regulation in Europe was adopted at the time of king Ferdinando IV di Borbone, after the great earthquake which killed about 30 thousands people in Calabria, in the year 1783. This is not just a secondary fact, since the Italian territory is under constant seismic risk. Of course, a significant change in construction technologies has taken place since then,with the advent of reinforced concrete and steel, in the first place.
Nevertheless, it should be observed that, in the pre-industrial era, they designed building technology that was able to undergo seismic stress effectively, avoiding structural collapse. The Bourbon king did neither use cabins or other temporary buildings, and took into account the local expertise of the workers and materials available.
The postseismic reconstruction was led by a large team of engineers and allowed the reconstruction of dozens of cities. Some of them were relocated to safer places. Others, such as Reggio Calabria, were rebuilt on site.
Instructions signed by King Ferdinando IV prescribed large roads (6-8 meters in width for the secondary; 10-13 for the main ones), central squares for the main markets and other smaller squares, whose size was related to the population, so they can be places of refuge.
Beyond the historic and urbanistic aspects of this huge “ricostruzione”, the technological heart of these new buildings was represented by the adoption from the structural point of view of a very effective technique: a three-dimensional wooden frame embedded in the stone masonry, so as to allow the walls to resist seismic stress without leading easily to the typical diagonal shear “ X “ crack patterns that we can see in buildings as a result of significant seismic events.