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Mitigating pollution in Ancient Rome’s green spaces

Fox, A. ORCID: (2021) Mitigating pollution in Ancient Rome’s green spaces. New Classicists, 4. pp. 3-12. ISSN 2732-4168

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Rome’s climate has shifted perceptibly over the past two millennia, and in the first centuries BCE and CE it grew drier and warmer, from the cooler climate of the regal period and the humidity generated by the Tiber’s frequent flooding. Buildings from the first century BCE were designed with this changing climate in mind, and Vitruvius, a first century Roman architectural engineer, advises the buildings of porticoes behind theatres, in order to give shelter to the people in the event of sudden rainfall (De Arch. 5.9.1). Vitruvius also advises green spaces be incorporated into these porticoes, thus providing portico gardens. This, he tells us, will benefit the health of visitors to the space, since the airflow generated by the greenery clears the “humours”. In the current architectural climate, environmental concerns are being brought to the fore again, and work on the built environment prioritises the inclusion of nature in architectural spaces as an attempt to combat climate change. The use of trees in urban settings has in particular received a renewed interest, in both academia and the media. This paper will explore Roman uses of nature in architectural spaces to manipulate the climate of these built environments. It will combine modern approaches to architecture with ancient ones, and present possible interactions between ancient use of space with modern use of space. It will also examine the importance of species type in architectural natural spaces, in particular how this would influence the usage of the space, and how a variety of species could be used for multivalent spaces in modern building design.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics
ID Code:115880
Publisher:Institute of Classical Studies


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