The Architecture of Ancient Rome

Roman architecture served the needs of the Roman state, which was keen to impress, entertain and cater for a growing

The Architecture of Ancient Rome


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министерство образования российской федерации

южный федеральный университет

институт архитектуры и искусств








Реферат на тему:

The Architecture of Ancient Rome"




Выполнила студентка

гр. АС - 23 Дудка Е.А.

Рецензент: Щербина Л.Д.



  1. Introduction
  2. Architectural Priorities of Ancient Rome
  3. Architectural Advances: Arches & Concrete
  4. Types of architecture of Ancient Rome
  5. Housing and Apartments
  6. Public architecture
  7. Thermae
  8. Forum
  9. Civil engineering
  10. Aqueduct
  11. Bridges
  12. Walls
  13. Impact of Politics and Religion on Roman Architecture


Roman Architecture


Unlike the more creative and intellectual Greeks, the Romans were essentially practical people with a flair for engineering, construction and military matters. In their architecture, as in their art, they borrowed heavily from both the Etruscans (eg. in their use of hydraulics for swamp-clearing and in the construction of arches), and also the Greeks, whom they regarded as their superiors in all visual arts. However, withoutRoman art- with its genius for copying and adapting Greek styles - most of the artistic achievements of Greek antiquity would have been lost.

Architectural Priorities of Ancient Rome


Roman architecture served the needs of the Roman state, which was keen to impress, entertain and cater for a growing population in relatively confined urban areas. Social elements such as wealth and high population densities in cities forced the ancient Romans to discover new (architectural) solutions of their own. Drainage was a common problem, as was security. This, together with Rome's growing desire to increase its power and majesty throughout Italy and beyond, required public buildings to be imposing, large-scale and highly functional. This is exemplified by Roman architectural achievements in drainage systems, aqueducts, bridges, roads, municipal structures like public baths, sports facilities and amphitheatres, even central heating systems. Numerous temples and theatres were also built. Later, as their empire spread, the Roman architects seized the opportunity to create new towns from scratch, designing urban grid-plans based on two wide streets - a north-south axis (the cardo) and an east-west axis (the decumanus). The town centre was located at the intersection of the two roads. They also built upwards; for example, Ostia, a rich port city near Rome, boasted a number of 5-storey apartment blocks.

Roman buildings were then built in the commercial, political, and social grouping known as a forum, that of Julius Caesar being the first and several added later, with the Forum Romanum being the most famous. The greatest arena in the Roman world, theColosseum, was completed around 80 A.D. at the far end of that forum. It held over 50,000 spectators, had retractable fabric coverings for shade, and could stage massive spectacles including huge gladiatorial contests and mock naval battles. This masterpiece of Roman architecture epitomizes Roman engineering efficiency and incorporates all three architectural ordersDoric, Ionic, and Corinthian.Less celebrated but just as important if not more so for most Roman citizens, was the five-storyinsulaor city block, the Roman equivalent of an apartment building, which housed tens of thousands of Romans.

It was during the reign of Trajan (98-117 A.D.) and Hadrian (117-138 A.D.) that the Roman Empire reached its greatest extent and that Rome itself was at the peak of its artistic glory achieved through massive building programs of monuments, meeting houses, gardens, aqueducts, baths, palaces, pavilions, sarcophagi, and temples.

Architectural Orders. The Romans preferred more ornate columns to the simple Doric and Ionic. The name of the column was also the name of the architectural order. Columns were used to support structures as well as for decoration. A word like octastyle refers to the number (8) of columns on the front row of the porch.

Columns could be made by stacking drums, but many of the Roman columns were made of single pieces with the fluting left off. If made of porphyry or other hard materials, these columns would be polished. The Romans also increased the height of the columns by mounting them on pedestals. Romans also used columns as buttresses.

Architectural Advances: Arches & Concrete


During the Republican era, Roman architecture combined Greek and Etruscan elements, and produced innovations such as the round temple and the curved arch. As Roman power grew in the early empire, the first emperors inaugurated wholesale leveling of slums to build grand palaces on the Palatine Hill and nearby areas, which required advances in engineering methods and large scale design.

Roman architecture was assisted by major advances in both design and new materials. Design was enhanced through architectural developments in the construction of arches and roof domes. Arches improved the efficiency and capability of bridges and aqueducts (fewer support columns were needed to support the structure), while domed roofs not only permitted the building of larger open areas under cover, but also lent the exterior an impressive appearance of grandeur and majesty, as in several important secular and Christian basilicas, like the Pantheon.

The use ofvaultsand archestogether with a sound knowledge of building materials, for example, enabled them to achieve unprecedented successes in the construction of imposing structures for public use.

Developments in materials were also crucial, as chronicled by Vitruvius in his bookDe Architectura. This is exemplified by the Roman invention of concrete (opus cementicium), a mixture of lime mortar, sand, water, and stones, in the 3rd century BC. This exceptionally strong and convenient substitute for stone revolutionized Roman engineering and architecture. As tile-covered concrete began to replace marble as the main building material, architects could be more daring. Buildings were freed from the rectangular Greek design-plan (with its undomed roofs and lines of pillars supporting flat architraves) and became less geometric and more free-flowing.

Because of these methods, Roman architecture is legendary for the durability of its construction; with many buildings still standing, and some still in use, mostly buildings converted to churches during the Christian era. Many ruins, however, have been stripped of their marble veneer and are left with their concrete core exposed, thus appearing somewhat reduced in size and grandeur from their original appearance, such as with the Basilica of Constantine.

The Roman use of thearch, the use ofconcretebuilding methods, the use of thedomeall permitted construction of vaulted ceilings and enabled the building of these public spaces and complexes, including the palaces,public bathsand basilicasof the “Golden Age” of the empire.

Like their Egyptian and the Greek predecessors, architects in ancient Rome embellished their public buildings with a wide range of artworks, including: Roman sculpture(especially reliefs, statues and busts of the Emperor), fresco murals, and mosaics. The concrete core was covered with a plaster, brick, stone, or marble veneer, and decorative polychrome and gold-gilded sculpture was often added to produce a dazzling effect of power and wealth.

Types of architecture of Ancient Rome


  1. Housing and Apartments


Although less visible level to the modern observer, ancient Romans developments in housing and public hygiene are impressive, especially given their day and age. Clear examples are public and private baths and latrines, and under-floor heating in the form of thehypocaust, double glazing (examples inOstia Antica), and piped water(examples inPompeii).

Possibly most impressive from an urban planning point of view are the multi-story apartment blocks calledinsulaethat catered to a wide range of residential situations. These buildings, solely intended for large scale accommodation, could reach several floors in height. Insulates were often dangerous, unhealthy, and prone to fires. There are examples in cities like the Roman port town ofOstia, that date back to the reign ofTrajanand show how Roman architects met residential needs in a variety of situations.

As an example, consider the housing onVia della Focette: a large-scale real estate development that catered to up-and-coming middle class entrepreneurs. Rather like modern semi-detached housing, these residences had repeated floor plans intended for easy, economical, and repetitive construction. Internal spaces were designed to be relatively low-cost, yet functional and with decorative elements reminiscent of the detached houses and villas to which the buyers might aspire later in their lives. Each apartment had its own terrace and private entrance. External walls were in "Opus Reticulatum" and interiors in "Opus Incertum", which would then be plastered and sometimes painted. Some existing examples show that a popular choice of interior decor was to paint panels in alternating red and rainbow.

Early Roman houses were huts, of course, much like primitive people´s everywhere. Modern archaeological excavations have revealed foundations of similar huts dating to the eighth century BC.

What is generally considered the typical Roman house, or domus, was a pla

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