The Soprintendenza has completed the Definitive Project for the rehabilitation of the area above the Domus Aurea. The Project represents a development of the outline set out in the Preliminary Project of March 2011, following the recommendations of the Committees for Archaeological Heritage and Architectural and Landscape Heritage at a joint meeting on 11 April 2011 and entailing various theoretical and practical test phases.
The SSBAR planning team, with the support of external specialists for physical/environmental, hydraulic and bio-botanical aspects has tested the monument’s physical/environmental responses to various technical solutions for a new sustainable park for the conservation of the Domus Aurea that will completely replace the current park.
The first phase of the project will see the complete removal of the current park, archaeological excavations to uncover the ancient surface of the monument and essential consolidation work, the repairing of lesions and filling of gaps.
The Integrated Protection System will be installed on the rehabilitated ancient surface, connecting the underground monument to the ground surface of the new park, lowering the current weight by 70%. The System, less than a metre thick, does not consist of a simple waterproof layer, but combines waterproofing with insulation to maintain higher humidity and thus ensure the vitality of the new park and with a complex drainage system to maintain optimal humidity levels in the underground structures. Finally, it will be possible to intervene beneath the deep layer of waterproofing in the event of variations in humidity. Given its properties, this System will lead to an intrinsic general increase in security and will be controlled by a Monitoring System for sensitive data.
The system will cover an area of about 16,000 m2, subdivided into 22 basins that function autonomously from a hydraulic and structural point of view. This design responds to a variety of needs dictated both by the very large area to be treated, making it necessary to stagger the implementation of the project (the time schedule specifies 7 phases over 4 years) and by the need for compartmentalization to ease management and the identification of any problems that might arise.
The project for the “Domus Aurea Park” on the Oppian Hill confirms the objective of recovering and integrating the perception of the two ancient monuments, the older underground structure (Domus Aurea) with the upper more recent one (Baths of Trajan) by visually underlining the architectural features of the Domus Aurea from the outside.
The need to avoid vertical plant features is compensated for by a careful choice of green and flowering plants arranged in these ample spaces in such a way as to support the reading of the ancient architectural features. As already described in the Preliminary Project, the park – though its management is conditioned by the security of the Integrated Protection System and its Monitoring System – aims to recreate the ancient functions of the vast terrace belonging to Trajan’s bath complex. This was a monumental development of the concept of the “multifunctional” public space, where culture and physical exercise were combined.