Covering the Colosseum

John Hill
5. May 2021
Image via Milan Ingegneria

A team led by Milan Ingegneria, with architecture by Labics and Fabio Fumagalli, has won a competition to design and build a retractable floor at the Flavian Amphitheater, the most visited site in Rome. A short film explains the complex workings of the movable wood floor.

The idea to add a new arena floor to the Colosseum dates back to 2014, but the competition was not launched until the end of 2020. As announced on May 2, 2021, the winner is the group led by Milan Ingegneria with architecture firm Labics (Maria Claudia Clemente and Francesco Isidori), architect Fabio Fumagalli, the firms Croma and Consilium Società di ingegneria, and archaeology consultant Prof. Heinz-Jürgen Beste. The new floor will protect the archaeological structures that comprise the arena's underground chambers, while also giving visitors the sensation of what it was like to be in the center of a space that held around 87,000 visitors nearly two millennia ago.

Photo: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, via Wikimedia Commons

How will it work? How will a wood surface totaling 3,357 m2 — a 54 x 86-meter ellipse — sit atop the ruins, shed water, and open up to reveal the structures beneath when so desired? Although the video is in Italian only, the inclusion of drawings and animations are extremely helpful in allowing anyone to understand what the team of architects and engineers is envisioning — and in conveying why they won the high-profile competition.

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