Roman influence on architecture Essay

This essay has a total of 921 words and 6 pages.

roman influence on architecture





Roman Influence on Architecture

The world of architecture has been greatly influenced and affected by Roman architectural
design and development. Their innovative designs and influential developments developed
centuries ago have provided a basis for architectural masterpieces found across the planet
and, what's more, have remained relevant into the 21st Century. While the Romans borrowed
many architectural designs from the Greeks and Etruscans, the additions that they did make
to the world of architecture changed that world forever. Their invention of cement, their
new use of arches and vaults, the development in aqueducts, and the development of road
systems brought about change that affected not only the Roman Empire but also the many
peoples that that great culture touched in its many travels and conquests.

“With the Roman invention of concrete in the first century BC and their growing
understanding of the architectural principles of stress and counter-stress, Roman
architects were able to experiment with new and elaborate forms of building, many of which
were to pass

in to the western architectural tradition. (Cunningham and Reich 156).” Until this
innovative development, architectural progress had been severely limited and restricted.
Building designs, using traditional Grecian models within the post and lintel system, had
allowed for limited change. With the development of concrete and the increased
understanding of its uses and applications, Romans were able to erect structures that
would have previously been impossible using the Grecian post and lintel system. It was
also the Roman use of concrete that led the way to many other Roman innovations in
architecture, most especially the use of arches and vaults.

Prior to the use of arches, Greek and republican Roman temples had been relatively small,
partly because of the difficulties involved in putting a roof on a large space, without
the use of supports. The Romans found and developed a way to use internal arches (“a
curved structure that forms the upper edge of an open space, or the space between a
bridge's supports” (Arch)) and vaults (“an arch-shaped structure, usually of masonry, used
as the ceiling of a room or other enclosed space, as the roof of a building, or as the
support for a ceiling or roof” (Arch and Vault)) to provide roofs for structures of
increasing size and

complexity. This new innovative style was adopted by the Romans from the Etruscans, as
early as the fifth century BC (Cunningham and Reich 156). “Vaults used by the Romans
were simple geometric forms: the barrel vault(semicircular in shape), the intersecting
(groined) barrel vault, and the segmental vault. By the 1st century BC, extensive
systems of vaulting were employed. A particularly fine example of Roman vaulting is
the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome” (Roman Architecture), and their influence on
architectural styles in using the arch can be seen in modern day Washington Square in New
York and the Champs Elysees in Paris (Cunningham and Reich 155). "Building" upon this
development, after the second century, stone arches were commonly seen in bridges and
aqueducts, there by giving birth to more major innovation.

Because Rome covered such a large area and housed a massive population, it required a
constant supply of water. The Romans were able to tackle this problem by creating a
network of pipes that carried water from the surrounding hills, into the city of Rome.
"Ancient Rome was supplied by more than ten aqueducts, providing the city with some 38
million gallons of water each day” (Tillery). This innovation led the way to future
waterlines and sewer

systems in the many places that Rome was to leave its influence, including Great Britain
and France, many of which can still be seen today.

Roman influence is also seen in Europe when looking at their modern day road systems. The
Romans were the first civilization to make well-designed roads. This greatly increased
the ability to expand because of the way roads were laid out. The major roads were
constructed to keep the incredibly large empire linked so it would not fall. The Romans
enhanced the roads by adding a number of things to the basic idea of roads, such as
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