Restoration and conservation

New plan for the Colosseum arena

Rome | Italy


Ministry of Culture - Colosseum Archaeological Park
Architectural design
BUROMILAN + Labics + Architect Fabio Fumagalli
2021 - ongoing
Amount of works
9.300.000 €
Services Provided
Structures design | Construction management | Safety coordination
Restoration and conservation
Arena floor area: 3,357 m2
Construction technique
Steel, carbon fiber, Accoya wood

Returning the Colosseum to its original image.

The intervention for the new floor of the Colosseum arena will make the central space of the cavea usable again: a solution of great formal simplicity, behind which is summed up a profound knowledge of the monument, which will protect the underground structures and restore part of the monument to its original image. The refunctionalization will increase the preservation and protection of the structure while maintaining its profound architectural, archaeological, historical and social value.

The system involves the creation of a new support surface in the Colosseum arena. The structure, made of steel, carbon fiber and Accoya wood, will be usable on the entire surface and openable according to different configurations. It will be placed at the same elevation as the historic floor dating from the Flavian era and, with a reversible system, will rest on the hypogeal structures.

A system that can be opened and reconfigured

The project involves the construction of an extremely lightweight and high-performance structure, resting on the hypogeum walls and composed of a load-bearing section, made of stainless steel, and a carbon fiber walking surface, covered with Accoya wood. By isolating the dynamic component of the system, it will be able to rest directly on the pre-existing masonry, optimizing load distribution and unloading it onto the original foundations. The integrated sections will be placed in a coplanar position to the extrados of the arena floor and will ideally reproduce the archaeological structures: thus facilitating the reading of an image as close as possible to the original one.

The system of moving and opening the blades will allow for different configurations: the new floor will be able to gradually unveil the hypogean structures to visitors, illustrating their distribution and rhythm and promoting the perception of the articulated functional nature of the hypogea and interactivity with what was happening above.

Such movements can be made without interrupting the progress of the visit and without any part of the archaeological structures, other than the modern summit of the ridges, being hidden from view. Activation of the mechanisms during the visit will produce new and exciting views, allowing natural light to illuminate the structures and providing unexpected views of the entire cavea.

Phases opening new arena floor of Rome's Colosseum
Phases opening new arena floor of Rome's Colosseum
Phases opening new arena floor of Rome's Colosseum
Phases opening new arena floor of Rome's Colosseum

A structure resting on the hypogea

The materials used allow the use of a particularly thin structural section allowing the absolute absence of interaction between the new additions and the archaeological remains. The system of support to the masonry will be achieved by laying different layers that will make the hypogean masonry isolated from the chemical-physical point of view, moreover they will be completely inert from the dynamic point of view, preventing the transmission of potential horizontal seismic stresses and forces induced by the visitors' walk on the arena floor. All structures will also be completely demountable for possible maintenance, thus ensuring complete reversibility and perfect restoration to pre-existing conditions.

The load-bearing section of the structure, made of stainless steel, will have both structural and plant engineering functions, allowing the installation within it of the bollards placed to protect the opening surfaces, the lighting systems for the underground spaces, the biodeteriogen abatement system, and the rainwater collection and recovery system.

The walking surface will be made of foils, rotatable and translatable: lightweight and strong panels made of composite material consisting of carbon fiber and termanthus. Finally, all structures will be clad with Accoya wood.

New floor section of the Colosseum arena in Rome
Obtained from the use of wood from normal crops, Accoya wood involves the modification of the wood profile through a process achieved by acetylation, which involves impregnating the wood with stabilizing substances in order to strengthen the material at the molecular level. The result is a high-performance wood, requiring almost no maintenance, resistant to fungal and bacterial attack and deterioration from environmental agents.
Wood accoya new floor of the Colosseum arena in Rome
The mechanical system allows, with a single mechanism, to achieve panel translation and rotation by controlling the direction of rotation of the gears.

Each panel contains a pair of electric motors coupled, via gears, to two coaxial shafts to which two pinions are connected. The pinions can rotate in one direction or the other independently of each other being each shaft connected to a different motor.

Each gear amps a different rack, the innermost a lower rack, the outermost the upper rack. When the gears rotate in opposite directions the opposite torques cancel and the motor keeps the panel in stable equilibrium by inducing uniform linear motion, thus causing the panel to translate. When the motors both rotate in the same direction the panel rotates about its axis.

Rotation takes place at a speed of 3 revolutions per minute, the panel from horizontal reaches the vertical position in 5 seconds. Panels can rotate in groups of 10 per aisle, which means that in 20 seconds it will be possible to place all slats vertically.
Mechanism opening new floor of Rome's Colosseum arena
The opening surfaces will be able to be managed separately so as to perfectly calibrate the usability of the areas and the visiting experience. In addition, the handling will allow the regulation of the microclimate regime of the hypogea: any possible alteration of the microclimate will be managed through a system of alerts activated by a monitoring system that will allow to verify and in case to modify the incident parameters, restoring the optimal conditions.

The project involves the use of artificial intelligence to manage the monitoring system, which will enable the acquisition of data on the microclimate regime, surface lighting, water load of the underground channel, and the structural behavior of the elements. In addition to the functions of historical acquisition of microclimatic parameters, the system will also have the function of actively interacting on the controlled ventilation system, and thus indirectly on the temperature and humidity parameters, and on the roof movement system.
Wooden panels accoya new floor arena colosseum Rome
Microclimate new arena plan colosseum Rome

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