We have recently been working hard to organize the new works and in particular to prepare the projects to appropriate the funds which are still available. The procedures specified in the Code of Public Contracts both for direct commissions under the permitted limit and for tenders are fairly complex and require that we respect very specific phases and time frames. This means that the time that passes between the development of a project and the start of work is relatively long.
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On Wednesday 23 January, we met at the Domus; it was raining heavily and this always worries us because of percolation into the interior and the safety of the workers. Luckily, in the late morning the sky cleared and the sun came out. During the first half of the morning our meeting concerned the progress of the project for the new layout of the park area above the monument.
After the holiday break, work has resumed inside the Domus Aurea and particularly in Room 41, which as we have said is a representative example of the problems that we face inside the rooms. In agreement with the Works Management, we have carried out preliminary first aid to secure and conserve the painted plaster of the vault, in danger of collapse.
“The Domus Aurea Worksite” opens up to the web with the aim of providing a day-by-day account of the works underway. A diary to inform people about the progress of projects and work to consolidate structures and decorations, the experiments underway and our research and documentation activities.
The first “Conservation Plan for the Monument” (Preliminary project report and definitive project), developed from an idea by A. Vodret, was drawn up by the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma in March 2011 and written by F. Filippi, A. Vodret, I. Sciortino, E. Segala and M. Pesce. It was then presented to the Technical Committees for Archaeological, Architectural and Landscape Heritage of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBAC). Subsequently, those parts of the project concerning the consolidation of structures and decorations, and the tests for the proposed new arrangement of the waterproof roof were launched.
Conservation work aimed at securing the surfaces of the Domus Aurea decorated with plaster, wall paintings and stucco elements are proceeding in parallel with stability tests on architectural structures and environmental monitoring.
From 2006, the East Wing of the Domus Aurea, centred around the famous Octagonal Room, was the site of works undertaken by the Commissioner appointed to urgently secure the Domus Aurea by Directive no. 3541 of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of 18 August 2006. After a research and planning phase, the first consolidation interventions (1st batch) began in 2010. These works, directed by the Commissioner L. Marchetti, entailed consolidating vertical walls and jack arches, alongside structural and microclimatic monitoring, concentrated in the East Wing of the monument. With the Directive of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers no. 4017 of 25 April 2012 the state of emergency ceased and responsibility for the whole monument and its management, with the remaining funds, was returned to the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma, which in the meantime had continued to work in the West Wing as well as acting to safeguard the monument.
From 2010, the German Archaeological Institute in Rome (DAI), in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma (SSBAR), has created a topographical map covering the underground rooms of the Domus Aurea and the overlying level of Trajan’s Baths now forming part of the park on the Oppian Hill.
In the context of the institutional collaboration between the Soprintendenza speciale per i beni archeologici di Roma (SSBAR – Mibac)
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.