Roman--architecture

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San Juan de Oña. Situado en la villa de Oña (Burgos) España En la plaza del Ayuntamiento se localiza la Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, levantada entre los siglos XII al XVI. Su interior destaca por el excelente estado de conservación con importantes restos románicos, un calvario gótico del XIII, su portada gótica y un retablo barroco sin dorar. Junto a esta iglesia se alza la torre de San Juan, de titularidad municipal y recientemente restaurada por el Exc. Ayuntamiento. En ella se distribuyen cuatro salas de distinta temática: la primera está dedicada a la industria de la resina, de gran importancia en la localidad y actualmente desaparecida; en la segunda hay recopilada una muestra de documentación municipal de los siglos XV al XVII; en la tercera una colección de pintura relacionada con la Villa, y la última se habilita como mirador, desde donde se contempla una magnífica panoràmica de la población junto con una maqueta de la misma. Aparte del contenido la propia torre destaca por la restauracióno realizada, ya que en todo momento se han respetado los elementos originarios y propios de la construcción.

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Researchers have announced a new understanding of Roman concrete – a versatile artificial stone that allowed Roman builders to create magnificent, open interiors of unprecedented scale. Collaborators used X-ray beams to study samples under the auspices of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to understand better why Roman concrete does not crumble and how monuments like the Pantheon, Colosseum, and Markets of Trajan stand to this day. Not only does this research enhance our comprehension of ancient building practice but also it offers hope for more environmentally friendly methods today.

Roman concrete uses a volcanic ash-lime mortar that is virtually crack-resistant combined with chunks of volcanic stone and other materials, often brick. Today’s concrete is made with limestone-based Portland cement, which requires a temperature of 1,450C (2,642F) to create and releases upwards of 7% of the world’s carbon emissions annually. Roman concrete, by contrast, does not require such high heat and could lead to the development of greener concrete through the use of volcanic material as the Romans did over two millennia ago. 

Pantheon, 118-128 CE, Rome, aerial view

Sample of Roman concrete. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab

Colosseum, 70-80 CE, supporting concrete vaults, Rome

Trajan’s Markets, 100-110 CE, distant view and vaults of great hall, Rome

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The Baths of Caracalla

Elaborate public baths constructed by the Emperor Caracalla around 216 CE, were a center of Roman social life and one of the great engineering triumphs of the 3rd Century. Sprawling over some 33 acres on Rome’s outskirts, the baths were a vast complex of business and entertainment establishments. At the center of everything were the baths themselves - a “frigidarium” (cold bath), several “tepidaria” (warm baths) and a “calidarium” (steam bath); most bathers passed through them in that order. Aqueducts fed thousands of gallons of mountain water into the system. Water for the tepidaria and calidarium  was heated by the wood-burning furnaces connected to a network of steam pipes beneath the floors.  The baths would remain in use until the 6th century when Goths destroyed aqueducts that supplied the baths with water. 

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By Anne Leader

Julius Caesar dedicated the Temple of Venus Genetrix in Rome on this day in 46 BCE. Caesar traced his ancestry to Aeneas, son of the Roman goddess of love and beauty. In dedicating the temple to Venus Genetrix, Caesar drew attention to her role as mother. Typical of Roman temples, the sanctuary was raised on a high podium and held a cult statue of Venus as well as portrait statues of Caesar himself. The original temple was destroyed by fire in 80 CE and was rebuilt by Emperor Domitian and restored by Trajan. Three columns survive from the second temple.

Temple of Venus Genetrix, rebuilt by Trajan 113 CE, Rome

Plan of Imperial Fora, Rome

Silver denarius of Julius Caesar, reverseAeneas carrying palladium and his father Anchises, 47-46 BCE. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Rogers Fund, 1908.170.80

The Secrets of Roman Concrete

It’s the most common human-made material on earth, the second most consumed substance after water, and the veritable foundation of contemporary society. Despite all that, and the fact that modern concrete is by many measures an advanced building material, it pales in comparison to Roman concrete. For proof, simply compare today’s version—which often shows degradation after 50 years—with concrete-based Roman monuments that still stand after two millenia. Even more impressive are underwater Roman structures that show little decay in the presence of harsh marine environments.

More on what the ancients can teach us about building, in Architect Magazine…