Roman Architecture

In Roman Architecture, referring to grid structure was a dominancy and the designs were formed by the topography. Like the other cities, the structures contribute for religious and political needs were under an influence of the Hellenistic regime. As Romans won wars and, started to conquer and observe different cultures, traditions and religions, they had an improvement in architecture, both in the structure and the form. Roman generals also used architecture as a tool to initiate Roman culture to the other cultures. Conquered people were also living a great welfare, they were as important as the Romans. Romans also like the Athens, went through a process where villagers got together to reduce the influence of kinship groups. Unlike the forums in Athena, in Roma, forums were created by very enclosed colonnaded buildings. As in the other republics and empires architecture, also in Roman architecture army kept having big impact on architectural improvement. They learned orthogonal urban design from Greeks. If topography was proper for axinality, architects founded the cities according to this aspect (Axis: Cardo). There were also very narrow colonnaded streets which had axism, but not all the Roman cities were formed according to this perspective of using dominant griding.


Pompeii was a very small coloned by that time and, even it was exposed to eruption, it still kept its intact. Until the excavations began, the city was laying under a volcanic very thick ash. Because Pompeii was a multicultural city, the architecture was under a big influence of various ideas. There were both orthogonal blocks (influence of Greeks) and square blocks (influence of Romans). The city was very similar to todays cities. There were raised sidewalks and reservoirs.If I am not mistaken the first example of sidewalk is seen in Roman architecture. There also was fountains shared by neighbors. Axial orientation is best seen in the Forum of Pompeii which is a public space. Near the forum space, there were also basilicas and temples. There also was several temples  which was very close to each other and, referring to the small distance they have in-between shows that Roman architects were following reproduced standard models based on a modular proportional system. The Basilica of Pompeii had a very different plan compared with basilicas usual form. The entrance was located on the short side rather than the long side, and the purpose was to create a strong axis. The other architectural elements didn’t had difference, there were colossal columns and the basilica was raised up. The Basilica of Pompeii was structured on the northeast corner and on the southwest corner there was a market. The form of the market was circular like a round columnar pavilion.

Theater and Baths: Roman Leisure Society 

Socialization, hygiene and pleasure had big importance in Roman society and, this urged the architects to construct disproportionate number of monument, such as theaters and baths. Romans didn’t fit their theaters on the slope, rather than that they placed it on a freestanding monuments which was supported with arches  and concrete vaults. The theater also had small temples to give rituals and the first permanent theater in Rome, built for the general Pompey, had a small raised temple which was facing the seats of the theather (cavea). Again, in the History of Architecture it is stated that “unlike the Greeks, Romans filled the orchestra with patrician seating. Opposite the temple stood the scene building or scenae frons.”. In time, amphitheater was invented to welcome a more crowded group of people. People were having fun with the violence show. Too bad right? 

Domus and Insula: Roman Domestic Architecture

As the streets of Rome, also the houses of Rome was very organised. In the History of Architecture, it is said that: The street facade often had shops to either side of the entry, with second story dwellings for the shopkeepers. With the front doors open, one had a view into a luminous interior atrium, which served as a stage for the extended family and its clients. The atrium court, or impluvium, was rimmed with inward sloping roof that funneled rainwater to a marble catch basin at its center. By that time, rich Romans were afraid of burying their money personal objects with them when they die, because of ethical reasons. But rather they spent all there incomes on building villas. Villas are domus with gardens, orchards and landscape vistas. Domus Vetii is an example for well designed villa.

Rome of the Emperors: From Brick to Marble

The urban renewal of Roman started with the wealth gained from the conquest. Here, briefly, I am going to inform you about the changes Rome gone through in each general’s period.

Lucius Cornelius, also named as dictator, his projects changed the monuments of the civic realm into statements of personal power. He rebuilt  the Temple of Jupiter. He raised his own statue on the forum. His most lasting contribution was  the first major public building to be built-in concrete: the Tabularium.

Gnaeus Pompeius or also knows as Pompey the Great, (stated as in the book) followed Sulla’s example of self-aggrandizement, building Rome’s first permanent theater but also next to it a luxurious palace and a public garden in the Hellenistic tyrants. Pompey also made use of these information he required and built even bigger theater. He was the one gave start  placing the entrances of the basilicas on the short sides.

Julius Caesar scripted a plan for Rome, aiming to organise the water supplies and roads. The plan had a very interesting clause, there wasnot going to be wheeled traffic in the city center during the day. It’s great that they were aware of the traffic pollution caused by the wheeled cars. I say cars, but I guess you got what I mean. 😀 

After more than a decade, when Augustus came to power the emperor, he was the reason of the transition of administration: from republic to monarchy. He helped to continue the  process of unfinished constructions to be built. His renewal efforts was sentenced throughout the history as : he found the city in brick and left it in marble. There is a forum named after himself. The major difference in this forum was the proportion: rather than 1:2, it was 3:4. This should also be questioned. He also continued the plan of Julius.

The Grand Project of Trajan and Hadrian

The Spanish general Trajan was the one who brought imperial projects to a colossal scale. He designed very big, massive works. Alcantara bridge is an example which is the tallest structure ever. They focus on something new: reshaping the topography. It must be hard by that time to change natural elements. It just remembered my design in Arch201. His architect gave a new started to four leveled market complex. The levels were for different groups from the society, so your privilege is important. Trajan’s Forum included libraries, basilica, concealed exedras, historiated column and temple.  

Will be updated, including the Chinese Architecture and Mexican Architecture.


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