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Goh Kee Woon


Architecture Culture and History
(ARC 1313)

Architecture Culture and
History 1 Portfolio

(Wild beast acts in the Colosseum)
The roman period reigned from 300 B.C. - A.D. 476. It can be divided into 3
periods: ancient Rome, republic Rome and the Roman Empire. Rome was originally
a small village which later grew into a city. The early settlers were Latin. The citizens
overthrew the kings and ruled the city with consuls. Eventually, the city grew and
conquered most of Italy. Generally, Romans are Greek-Influenced (e.g. worshipping
Greek deities). The way how Romans lived also depended on their ranks. Nobles
lead a well-off life while the poor end up as slaves. The typical Roman family is also
patriarchal. Ritualized violence which is Etruscan- influenced plays a major part in
Roman entertainment.
Roman architecture is a combination of Greek and Etruscan elements.
During this era, arches and domes were developed and beams were supported by
columns. Moreover, stones, developed concrete and marble were among the basic
materials used. Romans also contributed to Tuscan and Composite orders. The
Tuscan order is a simplified version of the Greek Doric order while the Composite
order has both the Ionic scrolls and the Corinthians foliage designs. Roman
architecture focused on function and practicality. Some significant structures include
the aqueduct, colosseum and the pantheon.
The amphitheatrum Flavian, today knows as the colosseum is the largest
amphitheatre in the Roman world with a capacity of over 50,000 spectators. During
the middle and late republican Rome, the typical amphitheatre was wooden,
temporary and oblong. Emperor Vespasian began building the colosseum in A.D. 72.
It was completed by his son; Titus in A.D. 80.The colosseum was unique as it was
located at the central of downtown Rome. Amphitheatres before were mostly built at
the edge of town. Location wise, the earth of the site could withstand a deal of weight
and had been equipped with a drainage system. Vespasian may also be influenced
by Augustuss wish of building an amphitheatre in the middle of the city. After Neros
death, the moral of Roman citizens were low, and thus in gaining back their support,
Vespasian built an arena for entertainment. The colosseum mainly serves as an
arena for gladiatorial combat, wild beast shows, executions and naumachiae. It also
represents bread and circuses, which means the basics of life and mass
entertainment of the Romans.
About 10,000 prisoners from the Jewish war and numerous skilled craftsmen
were involved in the construction of the colosseum. The seats and stairs were built
off-site. Furthermore, they were built to the same size and could be interchangeable.
The colosseum was built with travertine, tuff, cement, tiles, bricks and marbles. The
elliptical building has a lengthwise axis of 188m and a transverse axis of 156m. Two-
thirds of the encircling structure is made of travertine. Its 4 storey faade is
decorated with Greek statues. It uses five orders: Doric, Tuscan, Ionic, Corinthian
and Composite. Main entrances are located on the axes while archways at the
ground floor also lead up to the auditorium. The auditorium comprises of five circles,
which were allocated to distinct groups of the roman population (e.g.: knights, priests
et cetera). A basement is located below the arena which holds the games
To conclude, the colosseum represents the grandeur of Rome. Among
Roman spectator buildings, it is the only thing that is truly Roman. It tells the story of
how mass entertainment played a major part in Rome back then and also depicts
architectural advancements such as the use of arches as support. The colosseum is
an architectural marvel that shows how the Romans absorbed other cultures and
moulded it to their own.

(510 words)


Ada, G. (2000). Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture and History: The Colosseum. Milan,
ITA: Getty Publications.

Brigitte, H.B., & Jrgen, S. (2000). Art & Architecture, Rome and the Vatican City:
The Colosseum. Cologne, DE: Knemann Verlagsgesellschaft.

Building the Colosseum. (2008). Retrieved September 20, from the roman
colosseum website:

Francis, D.K.C., Mark, M.J., & Vikramaditya, P. (2007). A Global History of
Architecture: Colosseum. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Henri, S. (2002). The Roman Empire: From the Etruscans to the Decline of the
Roman Empire. Cologne, DE: Taschen.

Hintzen-Bohlen, B. (2001). The Colosseum. In Art & Architecture: Rome
(pp. 98-105). Bonner Strasse: Cambridge publishing management.

Welch, K.,E. (2007). The Roman Amphitheatre: From its Origins to the
colosseum. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
In this project, Ive learned more about the Colosseum as in its history
and the architecture elements in the Colosseum like the kinds of columns
used every levels of the Colosseum. Besides, I understood that the
position of men and women by looking at the seats that is divided
according to the identity of people.
1he Colosseum provlded a
permanenL purpose-bullL arena ln
Lhe clLy of AnclenL 8ome for
varlous forms of enLerLalnmenL for
Lhe AnclenL 8omans. 1he maln
purpose of Lhe Colosseum were for
gladlaLorlal combaLs, wlld beasL
hunLs, vaudevllle acLs and more.
CladlaLorlal combaLs and wlld
beasL hunLs were Lhe 2 famous
1he amphlLheaLer forms an oval 327
meLers (1729 ) ln clrcumference wlLh
dlameLers of 189 and 136 meLers
(613 and 310). 1he helghL of Lhe
four-sLorled wall ls 48 meLers (137).
1he Colosseum uses ve orders whlch
are uorlc, 1uscan, lonlc, CorlnLhlan and
ComposlLe. 1hese orders made a
framework for Lhe dlvlslon of Lhe
bulldlng. Lvery level has dlerenL
order Lo porLray Lhe subLleLy of Lhe
bulldlng. uorlc and 1uscan glves
sLurdlness Lo Lhe appearance of Lhe
bulldlng whlle lonlc, CorlnLhlan and
ComposlLe made Lhe Colosseum look

!"# %&'() *&+&,,#-' was bullL slnce 72A.u Lo 80A.u ln 8ome by
vespeslan (9A.u-79A.u) buL he dled before Lhe colosseum ls compleLed.
Colosseum pro[ecL ls conunued by hls son, 1lLus. lurLher on,
modlcauons were made by uomluan's relgn (81-96).

1he colosseum ls a greaL anclenL produced
by Lhe AnclenL 8omans. lL shows Lhe
anclenL englneerlng and consLrucuons. lLs's
a place where Lhe gladlaLors had Lhelr greaL
achlevemenLs of llfe. lL's a place where
mosL of Lhe hlsLorlcal evenL happened aer
lLs bullL. Compare Lo oLher anclenL
archlLecLure abouL LhaL era, Colosseum's
underground sLrucLure wlLh Lhe elevaLors,
human and anlmal pens, sLorage faclllues
and backdrops LhaL would be ralsed for
varlous evenLs.
ueLalled Secuon of Colosseum
lloor lan of Colosseum
Llevauon of Colosseum
!oh Kee Woon

#rchi$cture Culture and His%ry &ARC1313'
8epeuuve Lo unlL
Mass Plerarchy
Shadlng SysLem
underground SLrucLure
Project 1(B)
This project had made me understood more about the Colosseum and the quality of
spaces formed in this building according to its shape. The spaces are divided based on
different elements like symmetry, hierarchy, mass, and more.
Project 1(C)
Project 1(C) requires us to build models on the building we
chose which is the Colosseum. While adding the details onto
the model, I understood more and more about Colosseums
structure and some tiny details that we dont usually notice
when were looking at it.