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Prehistory: The Etruscans

Roman Characteristics
Building Materials
Architectural Ideals
Structural Revolution
Civic Architecture
Roman Architecture:
Prehistory: The Etruscans
Etruscan civilization
Preceded the Roman Empire in Italy
Most of their architecture was destroyed by
the Romans
Only hidden structures, such as tombs, were
Much of their architecture was greatly
influenced by the Greeks
The legacy of Etruscan architecture lives on
through its influence in Roman architecture
Roman Architecture:
Roman Characteristics
April 21, 753 B.C.
Pinpointed by the Romans as the day Rome
was founded
Early Romans were militant and very
Lacking in artistic culture
Romans absorbed the Greek culture
Literature, philosophy, science, and
New appreciation of the arts
Roman Architecture:
Roman Characteristics
Roman architecture emerged from
Hellenistic and Etruscan influences
It held many original aspects,
Materials and building techniques
Fulfilled practical purposes
Served commerce, industry, and shipping
Roman Architecture:
Building Materials
Building materials were very important
to the success of Roman architecture
Access to a wide variety of building stone
Volcanic tufa
Nearly unlimited quantities of white marble
Quarry opened by Augustus north of Pisa
Other varieties were imported from the Far
Roman Architecture:
Building Materials
Romans perfected the art of brick-
Perfected this material
Became the most characteristic material
in Roman structures
Was used to construct massive walls and
great vaults
Roman Architecture:
Architectural Ideals
To the Romans, the space inside a structure
was just as important as the exterior
Interior space was the primary focus of
Roman architecture and was shaped by
vaults, arches, and walls
Romans were fond of extravagance
Architecture for the powerful was gaudy
and colorful, not like the ruins as seen
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution
The combination of arches, vaults,
and concrete in architecture are a
pure Roman creation
The individual elements had been used
in earlier civilizations
Egyptians and Mesopotamians had used
primitive arch forms
Greeks had experimented with the arch
and concrete with little success
Etruscans had constructed vault-like forms
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution
More intricate than a simple post-and-
lintel system
Formed by a multitude of small elements
that curve over space by resting against
each other in a delicate balance
The elements used to create an arch
The shape of the structure keeps each
voussoir in place
Held together by their own force
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution
Created by extending an arch along its
Merely an extended arch
Supports and provides a roof for a given
Types of vaults
Barrel/Tunnel vault
Cross/Groin vault
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution
Barrel/Tunnel Vaults
The earliest type of vault
Appear in limited form in Egypt,
Mesopotamia, and Hellenistic Greece
Has a few limitations
Exerts a continuous load, therefore
needing constant support
Difficult to illuminate
Increases in length require thicker vault
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution
Cross/Groin Vaults
Created to overcome the limitations of
barrel vaults
Employed by the Romans very heavily
Formed by intersecting two barrel vaults
at right angles
Resistant to square plans
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution
The grandest type of vault
Cloister vault
An eight-sided vault, with an octagon-shaped
Formed by crossing barrel vaults over an
octagonal plan
Rare in Rome, more prevalent in medieval
True dome
Perfectly rounded dome, preferred by the Romans
Built up in complete rings wherein each ring forms
a self-supporting component of the final dome
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution
A mixture of mortar-like cement with an
Many advantages over traditional stone
Does not need to be quarried, shaped, or
Highly skilled labor was not needed to prepare
the concrete
Can be cast in just about any shape imaginable
Arches and vaults could be economically
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution
Romans developed many types of facings
that were weather resistant and pleasant to
the eye
Opus incertum
Random shaped stones of concrete
Opus testaceum
Brick facing; made concrete wall look as if it
were constructed from bricks
Opus mixtum
Decorative patterns of tufa, stone, or brick
Roman Architecture:
Structural Revolution

Opus mixtum; Photo: Sullivan

Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Aqueducts
Used to supply the civilization with water
from afar
Utilized an arch to create a continuous
line of decent for water
Aqua Claudia
Brought water over solid masonry some
ten miles into Rome
Some areas were over 100 ft. in height
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Bridges
Were generally lower in height and
broader than aqueducts
Two important Roman Bridges:
Pons Fabricus
Pons Milvius
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Theatres
Adopted the Greek theatre and
transformed it
The Roman theatre was closed, unlike the
Greeks who preferred an open, outside
Theatre of Marcellus
Integrated Roman style with that of the
Provided around 10,000 seats arranged in
three tiers
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Arenas
The Colosseum
Built by Flavian emperors Vespasian, Titus,
and Doitian
Located on the site of an artificial lake that
had been part of Neros Golden House
Extensive system of tunnels, chambers,
and mechanical devices below the arena
Hydraulic provision used to flood the arena
for naval displays and mock battles
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Circuses
Circus Maximus
Oldest and largest
circus stadium
Rebuilt and destroyed
from the first through
third centuries A.D.
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Baths
Strenuous daily life prompted the
Romans to construct large public baths
Wealthy citizens also constructed private
baths in their domiciles
Featured elaborate heating systems
Furnaces beneath floors
Heat was transmitted to rooms by tile
ducts, warming the floors and the walls
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Temples
Earliest Roman temples were
indistinguishable from those of the
Axial plan
Deep porch
Widely spaced columns
High podiums
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Temples
Temple of Jupiter
Originally built in the
late sixth century B.C.
Rebuilt in 69 B.C.

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Temples
Located in Rome
Considered by many to be the greatest
structure of antiquity to have survived in a
state of near completeness
Built by Hadrian between A.D 118 and 128
Three notable parts:
Immense, domed cella
Deep, octastyle Corinthian porch
Block-like intermediate structure
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Cities

The typical Roman city of the later Republic and empire had
a rectangular plan and resembled a Roman military camp
with two main streetsthe cardo (north-south) and the
decumanus (east-west)a grid of smaller streets dividing
the town into blocks, and a wall circuit with gates.

Older cities, such as Rome itself, founded before the

adoption of regularized city planning, could, however,
consist of a maze of crooked streets. The focal point of the
city was its forum, usually situated at the center of the city
at the intersection of the cardo and the decumanus.
Plan of the City of
By the time of Augustus,
Rome had grown from a tiny
settlement on the Tiber River
to a metropolis at the center
of an expanding empire.
Under the republic Rome
became the political capital
of the Mediterranean and a
symbol of Roman power and

URBAN DESIGN Greek: sense of the finite

Romans: political power and organization
USE OF SCALE Greek use of scale is based on human measurements
-- Romans used proportions that would
relate parts of building instead of human measure
MODULE Greek use of house as module for town planning
-- Roman use of street pattern as module
-- to achieve a sense of overpowering grandeur
-- made for military government
THE STREET Greeks: as a leftover space for circulation
-- Romans: street are built first; buildings came later
PLACE OF ASSEMBLY Greeks: market (agora)
-- Romans: market, theater, and arena
All Roads Lead to Rome
To the original
Greek orders,
the Romans
added two:
The Tuscan
Roman Innovation

Tuscan Order:

Like the Doric, except this one

has a base.
It is the most simple and solid of
the five orders.
Its column is seven diameters
high; and its capital, base and
entablature have few mouldings.

-Order of Classical architecture, developed in Rome, that combines

characteristics of both the Ionic order and the Corinthian order.
-The composite order is a mixed order, combining the volutes of the
Ionic order capital with the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian order.
-The composite order volutes are larger, however, and the composite
order also has echinus molding with egg-and-dart ornamentation
between the volutes. The column of the composite order is ten
diameters high.

The forum, an open area bordered by

colonnades with shops, functioned as the chief
meeting place of the town.

It was also the site of the city's primary

religious and civic buildings, among them the
Senate house, records office, and basilica.
When archaeologists
began excavating the city
of Pompeii, which had
been covered with ash and
mud by the eruption of
Mount Vesuvius in ad 79,
they found the remains of
people, ancient buildings,
and other artifacts
preserved amid the
volcanic debris. Among
the structures uncovered
was The Forum of
Pompeii, pictured, a group
The chief temple of a Roman city, the
capitolium, was generally located at one end
of the forum.
The standard Roman temple was a blend of
Etruscan and Greek elements; rectangular in
plan, it had a gabled roof, a deep porch with
freestanding columns, and a frontal staircase
giving access to its high plinth, or platform.

Roman temples were erected not only in the

forum, but throughout the city and in the
countryside as well; many other types are
One of the most influential in later times was
the type used for the Pantheon (ad 118-28) in
Rome, consisting of a standard gable-roofed
columnar porch with a domed cylindrical drum
behind it replacing the traditional rectangular
main room, or cella.
The Pantheon in Rome is one of the most famous buildings in the
world. It was commissioned by Hadrian in 118 and completed in
128. At one time it had a colonnaded court leading to the portico.
The dome of the rotunda behind the portico is 43.2 m (142 ft) in
diameter. The oculus (a round opening) at the top is 8.5 m (28
Roman engineers
completed the
Pantheon, a temple to
all the gods, in ad 128.
Its interior was
conceived as a single
immense space
illuminated by a single
round opening, called
an oculus, at the
highest point in the
dome. The interior is
decorated with colored
marble, and lined with
Roman theaters first appeared in the late
Republic. They were semicircular in plan and
consisted of a tall stage building abutting a
semicircular orchestra and tiered seating area
Unlike Greek theaters, which were situated on
natural slopes, Roman theaters were supported
by their own framework of piers and vaults and
thus could be constructed in the hearts of cities.
Amphitheaters (literally, double theaters) were
elliptical in plan with a central arena, where
gladiatorial and animal combats took place, and a
surrounding seating area built on the pattern of
Roman theaters.
The earliest known amphitheater (75 bc) is at
Pompeii, and the grandest, Rome's Colosseum
(ad70-80), held approximately 50,000 spectators,
roughly the capacity of today's large sports
The Colosseum in Rome (70-82) is best known for its multilevel
system of vaults made of concrete. It is called the Colosseum for
a colossal statue of Nero that once stood nearby, but its real
name is the Flavian Amphitheater.
It was used for staged battles between lions and Christians,
among other spectacles, and is one of the most famous pieces of
The basilica was a roofed hall with a wide central area
the naveflanked by side aisles, and it often had two or
more stories.
In Roman times basilicas were the site of business
transactions and legal proceedings, but the building
type was adapted in Christian times as the standard
form of the Western church with an apse and altar at the
end of the long nave.
The first basilicas were put up in the early 2nd century
b.c. in Rome's own Forum, but the earliest well-
preserved example of the basilicas (circa 120 b.c.) is
found at Pompeii.
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Basilicas
An important category of Roman
Most important Roman source for early
Christian architecture
Pure Roman style of architecture
Essentially means a roofed hall,
rectangular in plan, sometimes with an
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Basilicas
Basilica Ulpia
A.D. 98-117
Finest example of the
columnar basilica
Built by Trajan
Important model for
later ages

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Roman Structures
Roman Basilicas
Basilica in Trier,
Early fourth century
Built by Constantine
The final Roman
Served as an
important model for
the Romanesque
period of architecture
Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Romans were great builders of tombs
Different from the Greeks and Egyptians
in scale and religious style
Tomb of M. Vergilius Eurysaces
Citizen who made a fortune selling bread
to Caesar's army
Built a tomb in the shape of an oven
Roman Architecture:

Photo: Sullivan
Roman Architecture:
Roman catacombs
Built by the poor as
place of burial

Photo: Sullivan

A clear picture of Roman architecture can be

drawn from the impressive remains of ancient

Roman public and private buildings.
Many of our modern government institutions

are modeled after the Roman system, as is

much of our public architecture.