The last few days have been cold and rainy. The size and solidity of the large hangar covering about 800 m2 of the Park on the Oppian Hill are striking: it looks like a place untouched by the bad weather. And it is.
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When we took on the job of consolidating and conserving Room 34 of the Domus Aurea, the tasks and difficulties to be tackled seemed fairly circumscribed.
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.
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.
The problematic coexistence of the botanical features of the Oppian Hill and the underground archaeological structures of Trajan’s Baths and the Domus Aurea is well known.
The plants on the Trajanic Terrace date to the arrangement designed in several stages by A. Munoz in the 1930s and include:
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.
A material may decay for a variety of reasons: normally we consider those that derive from environmental interactions, to which we should add events that are limited in time but of high energy that may be far more dangerous for the maintenance of heritage.
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.