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Roman Building
•Greek elements
•Concrete (with marble or mosaic
•Arch (making possible aqueducts,
colosseum, triumphal arches, sewers)
•Use of space – light and soaring
•Solid walls and roads (lava stone)
Basic Traditional Elements
Atrium – initial room
Compluvium – opening in the ceiling
Impluvium – collection pool for water
Alae – ‘wings’ off the atrium
Tablinum – reception area, back of atrium
Cubiculum – sleeping room
Fauces – entrance hall
Peristyle – open garden behind the atrium with
colonade and rooms around it
Domus, continued…
• Doors (Janua) opened inward – bolts and
bars and doorkeepers.
• Furniture – lectus, or couch, used for
sleeping, reading, writing, conversation,
• Décor used mosaics and wall paintings
• Faced inward – light and air from the
compluvium and peristyle
• No view out – windows are rare
• Usually a single floor
• Single purpose rooms (e.g. cubiculum,
• Sometimes rooms on street opened out and
were rented out out as shops (taberna)
Wealthy Domus
Thermae – Public hot baths
• Available to everyone – wealthy, poor, slaves
• Men and women bathed at different times or in
different areas
• Open at noon, often signaled by a gong
• Participants usually alternated cold and hot baths,
hot first
• Strigils (scrappers) used for cleaning, soda for
soap, towels and slaves to assist.
• Shavers and depilators available at extra charge
• Busiest in the late afternoon – after work and
before dinner
Baths could involve multiple
• Apodyterium – changing room
• Frigidarium – cold bath
• Tepidarium – transit room between hot and
• Caldarium – hot bath
Additional features
• Palaestra – room for wrestling or
• Unctorium – room for oiling down
• Natorium – open air swimming pool
• Laconicum – hot room for sweating
• Libraries
Bath design
Hypocaust system of heating
The closer to the fire, the warmer
the room above and water piped
Public Latrines
Latrines provided
with water
circulating under
the seating holes.
Water also flowed in
the trough in front
of the seats for
rinsing the
cleansing sponges
Latrine drawing, cutout, and
sponge model
Forum – ‘open space’
• Leveled oblong piece of ground surrounded
by buildings – houses, temples, basilicas, or
porticoes (markets or courts)
Basilica – State building used as
public meeting place/hall of
A basilica used the arch in
construction, of course.
Basilica of Constantine
Pattern adapted to later Christian
• Central great
room often
with curved
‘apse’ at end
• Columned
side halls
Pantheon – ‘All Gods’
• Built during period of
the five ‘good’
emperors (Hadrian?)
• Huge domed structure
• Converted to a
Christian church in
18th century
painting of
Only light
source is the
oculus above.