Rome’s Colosseum in Italy to get new arena floor

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On Sunday, the Italian Ministry of Culture presented plans to build a platform that will restore the arena space at the center of the Colosseum in Rome, above the complex underground system.

The platform will contribute to the conservation of the monument and will provide it with an arena that can be used during cultural events and tourist visits. The project, for which €18.5 million has been allocated, was launched in 2015 with extensive preliminary investigations to understand what type of intervention would be most effective. The call for tenders was published last December and was won by the company Milan Ingegneria, specialised in restoration and recovery of historic buildings such as the Spedale degli Innocenti in Florence and Palazzo Turati in Milan.

The new arena of the Flavian Amphitheatre will be light, reversible, and sustainable.

The new platform of the Colosseum will be a rather complex structure made of carbon fiber panels covered with Accoya, a special kind of wood processed to make it more robust and weather-resistant, which is why it is often used for exterior cladding. Some of the panels will be able to be rotated and moved along the frame, to make the underground spaces visible, i.e. those below the floor of what was once the arena.

“I think it is a combination of protection, intelligent conservation, and technological innovation,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. 

The floor will serve as a stage for cultural events and visitors will be able to see the monument as it was until the 19th century.

The former arena floor was removed in the 19th century by architects hoping to get a look at its subterranean passageways.

The platform’s scaffolding will be made of stainless steel and will itself be clad in Accoya.

The designers aim to make the ancient functioning of the Colosseum more visible “as a complex scenic machine”, says Fumagalli. Even in Imperial Rome, underground rooms were covered with a platform of wooden boards. These rooms were service rooms, used for the preparation of the shows that were staged in the arena, and housed complicated mechanisms to operate trapdoors and elevators with which people, scenery, and animals were transported.

The floor will have an area of 3,000 square meters (about 32,300 square feet).

The Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheater, located in the center of Rome. It is still the largest standing amphitheater in the world today, despite its age and it could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian (r. 69–79 AD) in and it was completed in AD 80 under Titus. The Flavian Amphitheatre ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era and it was later repurposed for many other uses.

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