A new roof for old walls
The most enjoyable of gladiatorial torments can become torturous if its throwing it down or the sun is searing. The Ancient Roman architects knew this full well when they designed the huge arenas throughout the Empire. And they therefore spanned huge awnings, called “velaria”, over the stands.
Almost 2000 years later, the amphitheater in Verona is still a first-class piece of events architecture, although it is now opera singers not gladiators who strut around the stage. Yet, the “too hot”, “too cold” or “too wet” phenomenon still impairs spectators’ enjoyment. A temporary roof has thus been planned to cover the entire arena. And will of course not intervene in the fabric of the original structure nor visually impair the magnificent building. The competition to find a solution to this tall task was won by a spectacular joint project by the architects and engineers at Schlaich Bergermann Partner (SBP) and Gerkan, Marg und Partner (GMP). They propose placing a ring on the crest of the amphitheater that then houses the roof when it is furled. The special feature: absolutely no carrier cables will need to be permanently spanned over the oval of the arena. Only when the roof needs to be closed do the cables unroll from the ring into position and with them a roof membrane is then fully automatically pulled into place. When the roof is not in use, the membrane and cables roll back into the ring. The latter is positioned such that you can hardly see it from the outside and the face of the ancient building remains unchanged, just the way things were with the ancient velaria.