Historic hanging partitions: analysis of a relevant application in Palermo 

This paper describes historic technical solutions used to suspend lightweight partitions from timber trusses in one of the most relevant aristocratic residences in Palermo. The study examines part of the building, namely a masonry box 24-m long and 10-m wide. This large space, articulated in two storeys, was divided into rooms by lightweight walls and ceilings. The construction analysis of these partitions and the above roof trusses was carried out through an observational study during the recent restoration of the building. The main focus of this paper is a complex system of reinforcements and load-bearing elements – made of timber and wrought iron – used on the second floor to suspend a couple of tiled brick partitions and the related timber vaulted ceiling from the corresponding roof trusses. This solution, realized between the late 19th and early 20th century, employs a series of timber rafters, one timber trussed beam, and three groups of single or paired iron tie-roads. While analyzing the technical details of this system, the study contributes to documenting the use of suspended building components in the historic construction of Sicily.


The authors are grateful to Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi for their hospitality. Special thanks are extended to the restoration managers, arch. Giovanni Cappelletti and eng. Marco Giammona, for their support and to arch. Dario De Benedictis for his constant assistance.

Authors contributions

Enrico Genova: conceptualization, data curation, investigation, methodology, writing
Giovanni Fatta: conceptualization, supervision, writing