Ancient Roman Architecture

Made By:

Ankit Jain

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 streets—the cardo (north-south) and the decumanus (eastwest)—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 Rome
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 wealth.

We will be discussing the following types of architecture:


Vaulting Systems



Civic Buildings

Triumphal Arches

Roman Orders


• Roman temples were erected not only in the forum, but throughout the city and in the countryside as well; many other types are known. 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.

-Sense of direction (N/S) -Sense of space on a definite axis -Ritual

The Pantheon, rebuilt by Agrippa


The rotunda is twice as high as the porch. The exterior is made completely of brick. The rotunda is also known as a honeycomb structure.

-Dome made of concrete and mortar -As the dome rises near the oculus it consists mostly of volcanic material -Such material, which the Romans had a great supply of, is called pozzolana. It is considered to be true cement -Covered with gilded bronze -The proportions of the rotunda and dome are based upon geometry, most like the entire building -The diameter and height of the rotunda are the same: 43.2 meters -The dome is 21.6 meters high, exactly half the height of the rotunda

Interior of the Pantheon
-Floor is curved so rain water from oculus runs off to the edge -First story contains altars, second story contains 14 blind windows and drum that supports the dome, and third story is the dome made up of coffers

-The only light source for the structure -For a building dedicated to all the gods, it should only admit light from the heavens

Floor patterns of Pantheon

-Floor patterns emphasize Romans’ fascination with geometry and symmetry. The squares are finite and measurable whereas the shape are circles are infinite and immeasurable. The opposition creates a symmetry.

Coffer Method
-Series of indented squares (five rows of 28 coffers each) -Squares become smaller towards the top of the dome for proper support -Each square would have been painted blue with a star in the center of each -Creates optical illusion that dome is wider than it actually is

• 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.

Forum of Augustus. -The front of the temple appears to be pushed up to one end of the square, relating to and dominating the space in front of it. -Domination of a defined space and on a definite axis are qualities in Roman architecture.

Roman Orders




Levels of the Colosseum corresponding to the Roman orders

Level 1: Doric Level 2: Ionic Level 3: Corinthian

Corinthian Column: Details of the acanthus leaf

A common plant of the Mediterranean, acanthus leaves adorned the capitals of the Corinthian capitals, which were the most popular of the columns in Roman architecture.

-Use of Corinthian columns, sense of space and direction, small cella, post-lintel structure -One major difference from the Pantheon is the floor plan.

Maison Carree; Nimes, France


Basilica (based on megaron)

Floor plan of the Pantheon

Floor plan of Maison Carree

-Beehive or cylindrical structure -Excessively large; known for its size (sense of space and ritual)

Mausoleum of Augustus

This temple is dedicated to Vesta, the goddess of fire. The columns, in peristyle, protect an altar and fire located inside the small cella

Temple of Vesta, Rome -Circular cella -Supported by Corinthian columns

Roman Vaulting Systems

A: Barrel Vault B: Cross/Groin Vault C: Pavilion Vault D: Sail Vault E: Domical Vault F: Umbrella Dome

The barrel vault, cross vault, and domical structure (A,C, E) are the most prominent vaultings in Roman architecture

-This structure utilizes the barrel vault. -At the other side of the vault the structure uses the round arch.

Basilica Nova of Maxentius, Rome

Pont du Gard; Nimes, France

-The bottom story is composed of six arches, and its piers are supported by buttresses. The second story consists of ten arches, and the third story carries the actual conduit with thirtyfive arches. -For an efficient water supply to Rome the bridge was built to follow gravity and slopes down at a slight 0.025 meters/kilometer.

Aqueducts- a way to carry water
• There wasn’t enough water in the city of Rome. • The Romans brought water in from the surrounding countryside. • The water was brought in by tubes called aqueducts.

How did the aqueduct work?
• The water flowed in a tube on the top of the aqueduct called a water channel. • The arches supported the water channel.

What did the water channel look like?
• The water flowed through a rectangular channel. • The channel was lined with concrete. • The Romans invented concrete.

Arches, especially the arches constructed in the Pont du Gard, were built around wooden frames. The frames were removed upon completion.

-An arch was constructed from each end up to the top until the center piece, known as the keystone, was ready to be placed. -The keystone exerted a force on the adjacent stones so that this one stone at the top held the entire arch together. Thus, it is the key to the structure.

Characteristics of a triumphal arch

1. Combined columns 2. Arcuated system 3. Nike figures 4. Quadriga

Triumphal Arch of Titus
-Combined columns -Arches -Nike figures -Quardriga

Triumphal Arch of Constantine, Rome

The Colosseuma place for sports

-Although the Colosseum is a triumph, it is not triumphal. -With the idea of an arch being a new Roman technology in architecture, this mammoth structure is a great achievement. -It was the first large, permanent amphitheatre in Rome.

-The parts of the Colosseum were made out of different materials such as travertine, tufa, and concrete. -The travertine held together the façade. -The inside walls are made of tufa blocks. -Concrete was laid above the arches and mainly used in the platform.

Domestic Architecture
• • • • • Domus = house Atrium = entrance to house Outside plain, inside elaborate. Homes were considered sanctuaries Atrium would often have sculptures of family members

Floor plan of a Roman house


House of Vettii Garden

Position of each structure with respect to adjacent structures emphasizes the importance of direction, space, and ritual Geometrical shapes are present in the construction and décor of each building There are three orders of columns, but Corinthian is the most prominent in Ancient Rome The majority of the Roman population lived in insulae, which were located in the city, poorly built, yet a comfortable living space The most popular vaults, the barrel, cross, and domical vaults, all come from the idea of the round arch Arches were not sturdy because of mortar, but because of the keystone Triumphal arches had a different purpose depending on who they were built for, but all arches maintained CANQ. Two major floor plans in Roman architecture are the basilica and circular plan

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