Culture is one of the strongest elements that links us all together… and architecture too. Whilst cultural rituals and traditions may shape our actions and relationships, architectural designs influence the construction of most of the well known monuments across the globe linking us all in another way.
Ancient Roman architects have molded and shaped our cities and towns well beyond the fall of the Roman Empire. So how did Romans revolutionize the construction industry of so many nations?
Roman architects discovered that concrete was not only stronger than the widely-used marble, but it was also easier to decorate and sculpt. From a financial point of view, concrete could also be produced locally, making it far more cost-effective; even at that time budgets had to be respected.
- Columns, domes
From the 18th century, Neoclassical architects deliberately copied ancient buildings with regular, plain, symmetrical designs with lots of columns and domes. Even though columns originated from Greece, the Romans used them for decoration, unlike Greek columns that were used to support their buildings and temples. There were four types of columns used throughout the Ancient Roman Empire: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Tuscan. Domes use the same principles of circular geometry as arches to cover large areas with no internal support. Domes became an important and prestigious feature of public buildings, like baths.
- Triumphal arches
The Romans celebrated their military triumphs and other achievements by building gigantic arches over their roads. The largest surviving arch is the Arch of Constantine (Rome), 21 m high in total with one arch of 11.5 m. Il fut construit par le Sénat romain pour commémorer à la fois la victoire de Constantin au Pont Milvius contre Maxence le 28 octobre 312 ainsi que ses 10 années de pouvoir.
Romans were able to live in large cities because they knew how to transport water for drinking, public baths and sewerage systems. The first aqueduct, the Aqua Appia, was built in 312 BC in Rome. It was 16.4 km long and supplied 75,537 cubic metres of water a day, flowing down a total 10-metre drop. The Romans realised that arches didn’t have to be full semi-circles, allowing them to build their long bridges. Stacks of arches allowed them to build higher spans, best seen in some of their spectacular aqueducts.
And so, even as we walk through our roads, wherever we may be, we continue to be linked to each other by our history.