Colosseum and Trajan’s Market and Forum – What can we learn?

Saturday, 27 November 2010 - 12:36 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Intelligent Buildings
Reading Time:  8 minutes

Rome Marts © seier+seier+seier

Rome Marts © seier+seier+seier

Everyone knows it, even if the personal or private vocational orientation have nothing to do with the construction industry. Looking at this part of the history of public and commercial architecture and the resulting economic use, then these two building complexes were to some extent “The invention of the wheel.” Since then planners and architects are trying to reinvent this wheel again and again – with more or less success. Of course, there always have been results of progress and development of building materials to set new milestones, but really new developments weren’t given since. This is partly in the nature of the building and construction business: A building structure remain a building structure and have to follow structural requirements, which in turn follows the laws of gravity. On the other hand the results of the much-vaunted “think outside the box” quote are sometimes not only surprising, but simply led by misled passion.

Colosseum © Diliff

Colosseum © Diliff

Sustainability
The Colosseum was operated for 500 years. A life span that arise naked envy in today’s planners and investors, particularly because of the flexibility of use. The Trajan’s Market and Forum was operated “only” 200 years as a mixed use property, but already fulfilled all the requirements at that time for flexible floor plans at reasonable cost in a first-class location and in some cases 5-storey structures. To be fair it has to be pointed out that sustainability was required at the time, because otherwise it would had been impossible to organize daily life. In this respect planners and architects had some natural advantages which need to be learned again today.

Economy
The Trajan’s Market and Forum hit the zeitgeist, as only a few mixed-use forms and buildings do so today, by a mix of leisure uses, retail and office spaces in one building complex which were collected and connected on different levels and in absolute top inner city location. Because of its location, the therewith given excellent accessibility, and the best internal development of the facilities at that time, the success were granted throughout almost two centuries. Today there are only a handful of buildings with comparable size and longevity.

Plan Forum Trajan © Pascal Radigue

Plan Forum Trajan © Pascal Radigue

The Colosseum with a highly flexible special-use concept, sophisticated visitor management and an exemplary safety concept even for today’s standards in all relevant areas featured outstanding stage techniques, including could be completely flooded the arena to host water spectacle. The Colosseum far outpaced all (macro) economic and political expectations in many ways. Today there are nearly no buildings which range even close to the national and international importance and brilliance of the Colloseum. No other building complex of this kind in the history ever was so close connected with was so much for progress, internationalization, unity, equality, democracy and openness, but also for power orientation and expansionism. With this, as early as 2000 years ago, light and shadow, success and challenge were given a form and ideological language, which hasn’t lost its topicality and importance up to today. It took 1800 years until the French artist Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was able to manage to create a work with similar appeal. Today it stands on Liberty Island in the port of New York City and was a birthday gift from the French government to the 100-year anniversary of the United States of America. The Statue of Liberty is meant, of course.

What can planners and developers learn from this?
The Colosseum was a public building. In particular mayors and district councils can learn from it that buildings which are intended for public need to be planned like this. Not everything what the city treasurer like does work sustainable and not everything what does work sustainable is liked by the city treasurer. Especially when it comes to buildings with long life spans this shouldn’t be the first priority anyways, because the buildings shall meet public interests and don’t follow political intervals. By keeping this in mind great and awesome results can be achieve.

The Trajan’s Market and Forum, though publicly funded, were used for private purposes and therefore exceptionally successful because the operators were always ready to adapt and implement the latest zeitgeist to react on new requirements, sided with the necessary basic building of the complex, which led to the economic sustainability. Only slowly and under pressure from investors today’s planners and developers learn that sustainability and the so-called third party usability isn’t an option but mandatory in the planning.

For further information please visit Colosseum and Trajan’s Forum.
Mercati di Traiano © Sailko Rome Marts © seierseierseier Traiano Mercati © Alessio Nastro Siniscalchi Colosseum © D Iliff WTC © Dr-emmettbrown Traiano Panorama © Grenouille vert Trajan Forum © Markus Bernet Colosseum profile © Ningyou © Nordisk familjebok Trajan Forum © Pascal Radigue Trajan Mercati © Pufacz Mercati di Trajano © Sailko
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Traiano Mercati © Alessio Nastro Siniscalchi
BWTC © Dr. Emmett Brown

BWTC © Dr. Emmett Brown

What’s the message?
The Bahrain World Trade Center is a good example to describe how the remaining challenges can be adopted. This is the first skyscraper complex in the world, which is independently supplied with wind energy power. The successor project, the Burj al-Taqa, will be completely self-sufficient energy operated and be the first zero-energy skyscraper in the world. Try to sell one of these or a similar concept to your city treasurer and you know what is meant here. Meanwhile he would engage in it because he can see that it works, but what about the follow-up concepts? They will fail again because of the discouragement of decision makers. This is one of many reasons why the Colosseum and Trajan’s Market and Forum could survive for so long as a benchmark, instead of being replaced by e.g. autonomous and fully sustainable floating cities. The technical possibilities for this are available for quite some time.

Architecturally there aren’t that many challenges left yet. There are hardly any uses or forms that haven’t been tested or at least tried before. Compared to this, engineers are facing far greater challenges, particularly by improving building energetic sustainability, but also when it comes to achieve further improvements of building materials as a whole, e.g. for greater strength, durability and load carrying capacity by simultaneous reduction of resource uses. The fields “development in stock” and “sustainability” are without doubt the play grounds of the present. Demographic change and therefore reduced space requirements are another.


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