ROMAN ARCHITECTURE: CONCRETE VISIONS

 
Reading: Architecture, chapter three, pp. 127-152.
 
Late Antique style (from 3rd c. AD): Increasing pressure from barbarians at frontiers (soldier-emperors). Shrinking economic prosperity. Gradual decline of landed aristocracy and wealthy commerical class, replaced by court aristocracy. Steady growth of proletariat and slave class, mercenary army. Disappearance of middle class. Emperor more and more despotic on pattern of oriental rulers, with complicated court ceremonial. Imperial policy frequently determined by demands of proletarial and by popular religious movements (such as Mithraism and Christianity). Christianity recognized in 313 (Edict of Milan); state religion in 380.
 
New materials for the sculptural and volumetric richness of late imperial or Late Antique architecture: concrete with brick and stone facing, marble veneers. Sculptural decoration usually free standing statues in niches. Walls painted in illusionistic fresco. Buildings axially organized, with logical relations of main and subordinate axes, from single units to large scale city plans. Spatially, Roman architecture shows a development from closed, simple space units and regular articulation to more complex spatial relations, more fluid interpenetration of spaces, more rhythmic organization of space and mass.
 
Representative buildings:
1) Forum of Trajan, including Basilica Ulpia (following entry), Rome, c. 111-117, attributed to Apollodorus of Damascus; figs. 196--201.
     
 
2) Basilica Ulpia: plan and reconstructed interior view
       
 
3) Pantheon, Rome, c. 118 AD: plan; reconstruction with forecourt; reconstructed elevation; reconstructed section; section today; aerial view today; full view in eighteenth century; interior today; interior of dome; figs. 177--182.
       
       
       
 
 
 
4) Basilica, Trier, Germany, early 4th c.; figs. 190--191.
   
 
5) Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, Rome, 307-312 AD: reconstructed plan; reconstructed cutaway view; reconstructed interior view; exterior/interior views today; figs. 188, 189.
       
       
       
 

 

 
Terms: "poured" concrete (actually laid on: it was too thick to be poured, as it would be today); cross-axial planning