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Colosseum, wood and technology: this is how the new arena will be. Franceschini: “Ready in 2023”

In wood, light, at the same level as the Flavian age, reversible, isolated from the archaeological structures, with a system of mobile slats that can reach the entire extension of 3000 square meters in 30 minutes, guaranteeing a system of visibility of the underground and the protection of their microclimate with 24 ventilation openings. The Colosseo it will have its “philological and technological” arena at the same time. The technical indications given by the staff of archaeologists and architects were followed. At least on paper.

The minister’s announcement – The Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini chooses a special day like the Sunday after the May 1st to present the winning project of the international tender launched through Invitalia by the Roman College last December. Milan Ingegneria was awarded the tender, selected from 11 proposals by a commission of technicians. «A great challenge for Italy», Franceschini comments.

Jobs – And now the race to contract out the works by the end of 2021, early 2022, to inaugurate the arena in 2023, has begun. “This is an intervention that will cause debate because it is the best-known monument in Italy and a symbol in the world, but the arena has the great value of combining protection, conservation and technological achievements. There will be a great work of archaeologists to respect the times and in 2023 we will be able to see it inaugurated ». The operation, as the minister himself recalls, comes from afar. Announced (not without the waltz of opinions between applause and perplexity) in 2014, marrying the idea of ​​archaeologist Daniele Manacorda to reconstruct the arena of the Colosseum. A total loan of 18.5 million euros has been allocated.

What will the arena look like – «The new plan of the arena responds to the guidelines: protection, conservation, use of technologies – enters the heart of the Alfonsina Russo operation – It will be a light structure that recalls the original plan of the first phase of use that dates back to the Flavian dynasty . It will have different possibilities for opening and closing the arena, guaranteeing lighting and ventilation of the underground structures, and above all the eco-sustainability of the materials, with the recycling of rainwater for the water supply of the Colosseum services in consideration that until 2019 the Colosseum had an average of 25,000 people a day. The total extension of the arena will be 3000 square meters, 4 and a half times the current platform. When will it be inaugurated? «The times are those of the law, we will try to be fluid, with about 240 working days. Every week the technical group will meet to share the progress of the project, in synergy with the Unesco office. The tender will be for 15 million euros. The works will start at the end of 2021, the first months of 2022. We will be able to have it ready in the first months of 2023».


For Milan Ingegneria Spa, the engineer speaks Massimiliano Milan: «The main objective was the protection and conservation of the underground spaces. We have chosen to set the structure at the Flavia age share. The wooden slats have a technological character, because they are able to rotate and translate, guaranteeing flexibility on philological configurations. When everything is open it will be possible to see the underground spaces below, which were the casket of the ancient spectacle machine. The project guarantees reversibility. Structures without deep anchors will be installed on the Colosseum: if in 30 or 100 years there is the will to remove the structure, it will be possible to restore the state of affairs. The structure is isolated from the archaeological walls, the plane lighter than the original since the movable panels are in carbon covered with treated wood, durable to biological attack. The structure guarantees the microclimatic conditions of the hypogea with 24 controlled ventilation units and a humidity monitoring system inside ».


Originally, the arena of the Colosseum was already a technological magnificence: not so much at its inauguration but from Domitian onwards the undergrounds have been strengthened, becoming the technological heart in which all the preparatory mechanics for the shows were developed. It is enough to consider that in the Severan age there were about 60 lifts. And more platforms, stage devices and mount-beasts, operated by hundreds of people. The dimensions were dizzying: the Flavian amphitheater inaugurated by Titus in 80 AD could accommodate about 50 thousand people (estimate downwards, given that there are also peaks of over 80 thousand). If the external walls of the facades are still about 50 meters high today (on the side facing via dei Fori Imperiali), the elliptical arena is about 87 by 55 meters. At the Colosseum in recent months we have worked hard to restore the basement in the wake of the strategic partnership with Tod’s, key structures to welcome the new platform.

As Alfonsina Russo explains, in ancient times, with the emperor Titus, the arena consisted of a wooden plank sprinkled with sand, resting on wooden structures. But with Dominziano the basements were built in masonry with a system of corridors, on which the platform of the arena rested, then enriched from here a complex underground network of hatches and lifts and environments serving the show. In 1996 the Superintendence of Rome started a series of researches with the Germanic institute which led between 1998 and 2000 to the partial reconstruction of the current arena floor, of about 600 square meters. After 20 years from that experience, there is the desire to restore the original reading.

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