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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After the Press conference on 18 June 2014 at which we presented the Definitive Project for the new park above the Domus Aurea, we continued with the Pilot Worksite for the construction of the first of the 22 basins of the Integrated Protection System.
We have had direct experience on several occasions over the past few years of the detrimental effects of torrential rains in Rome and, more specifically, the hindrances caused to the good progress of work inside the monument by the most recent “cloud burst” last February. This forced us to suspend the worksites for safety reasons and has led to the decision to implement a “Provisional drainage layer”, designed by Vincenzo Angeloro, the hydraulic engineer of the main “Domus Aurea Project” design team, with the collaboration of our staff (in particular Maurizio Pesce, the Technical Coordinator for the monument). This intervention aims to protect the Domus from severe weather events during this extremely delicate phase of its consolidation, considering the long time (at least 4 years) before the definitive project is completed.
During the summer holiday period, we tried to protect the area from the camps set up by homeless people in the park above with a night watch service. However, despite numerous evacuations by the police and the constant maintenance of the fence, which is cut every evening, the situation had not improved when work began. We are confident that when the new fence is built and work is extended to cover the whole of the park, this situation will be definitively resolved.
In the meantime, work inside is proceeding – especially the structural consolidation of the western sector, in the so-called former Little Barracks and Access Gallery 18. We have begun to secure the decorations of Room 116, one of the few to be preserved intact, including its mosaic floor.
We are also in the process of designing new projects which will begin the tender process before the end of the year, in order to plan our work for next year. We have updated the state of progress and the expenditure situation.
It is of real importance for all those who, like us, are concerned for the Domus Aurea and its vegetation, respectively a unique and irreplaceable archaeological heritage and a magnificent natural heritage, to discuss the difficult relationship between these two features in the park on the Oppian Hill.
The archaeological sounding carried out on the outer surface of Trajanic galleries 20A and 20B entailed, as a preliminary phase, the removal of all the weeds that had taken root in the layer of earth above the screed connecting and covering the vaults.
The types of plants which presented the greatest problems for the wall structure and that were most difficult to remove and eradicate were an Ailanthus altissima (ailanthus or tree of heaven) and a large Laurus nobilis (laurel) bush.
“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.