The conservation work to be carried out in the West Wing, and specifically in the north-western corner of the Domus Aurea, are aimed at tackling the two main goals of intervention on the monument:
- structural consolidation;
- the overall isolation of the area to minimize heat transfer with the outside, and thus protect and thermally stabilize the surface layers of the fresco paintings decorating most of the rooms of the Domus.
The reconstruction of the barrel vaults over Rooms 17 and 16 of the so-called “Little Barracks” on the western edge of the Domus responds to the need to isolate the rooms and, at the same time, to conserve and consolidate this sector.
The precarious state of conservation of the wall structures in this area made it necessary first of all to carry out propping works to secure the structures: preliminary approach excavations carried out with the assistance of specialized staff are underway.
As can be seen from the plans, the sector of the Domus Aurea where these interventions are being carried out illustrates the tricky aspect of interference between the work needed and the protection of the structures and rooms in the area. It was unthinkable to pass through the monument with materials and equipment. As a consequence we created a direct exit from the worksite onto the nearby Via del Monte Oppio; procedures to open the vehicle entrance are underway.
Initial work to reconstruct the vault over Room 16 showed the marked fragility of its structures and particularly of the wall tops in this room; this state of affairs became evident only after close-up inspection, made possible after removing restorations of the wall tops dating to the 1960s/1970s. Currently, in October 2012, consolidation and repair work on these walls is underway.
In the meantime, we will complete the wall between rooms 16 and 17, an operation that will allow us first to reconstruct the vault of room 16 and later to build the vault of room 17.
The next intervention, dictated by stability requirements, will involve reconstructing part of the vault over the first Trajanic Gallery (20A), perpendicular to rooms 16 and 17, to ensure structural continuity between the Neronian and Trajanic sectors.
For the time being we are securing the gallery by removing the infill which weighs on the residual portion of the vault and by removing provisional support works, already in place for some time.