Rome Studio + history Syllabus Summer 2015


Rome Studio & Foreign Study

Arch 414 & 428 msu | soa

Summer 2015

22 – july 19]

Brittingham e:

small city baths | balneae | neighborhood baths

cleanliness and godliness under one roof


…but the small city baths, the balneae, that were represented by the greatest numbers of modestly scaled establishments, and widely diffused in the city, have vanished leaving little trace. Not conceived as monuments

(thermae), to uphold a civic image or carry an ideological message, they were small or medium-sized buildings susceptible to peculiarities of planning in direct response to local conditions…no pure specimen or strict model dominated the design of the balneae. Most were probably shaped by rudimentary factors such as economy and function. Fitting into their congested city blocks as best they could, the majority of the small urban baths had asymmetric plans that allowed much room for creative experimentation. vs. thermae

“The universal acceptance of bathing as a central event in daily life belongs to the Roman world and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that at the height of the empire, the baths embodied the ideal Roman way of urban life. Apart from their normal hygienic functions, they provided facilities for sports and recreation. Their public nature created the proper environment—much like a city club or community center—for social intercourse varying from neighborhood gossip to business discussions. There was even a cultural and intellectual side to the baths since the truly grand establishments, the thermae, incorporated libraries, lecture halls, colonnades, and promenades and assumed a character like the Greek gymnasium.”

Fikrit Yegul | Bathing in the Roman World brief history:

Roman baths varied from simple to exceedingly elaborate structures, and they varied in size, arrangement, and decoration. In taking a Roman bath, the bather induced sweating by gradually exposing himself to increasing temperatures. To accommodate this ritual, all Roman bathhouses contained a series of rooms that got progressively hotter. Most contained an

apodyterium - a room just inside the entrance where the bather stored his clothes. Next, the bather progressed into the frigidarium (cold room) with its tank of cold water, the tepidarium

(warm room), and finally the caldarium (hot room). The caldarium, heated by a brazier underneath the hollow floor, contained cold-water basins that the bather could use for cooling.

After taking this series of sweat and/or immersion baths, the bather returned to the cooler

tepidarium for a massage with oils and final scraping with metal implements. Some baths also contained a laconium (a dry, resting room) where the bather completed the process by resting and sweating.

The layout of Roman baths contained other architectural features of note. Because wealthy

Romans brought slaves to attend to their bathing needs, the bathhouse usually had three entrances: one for men, one for women, and one for slaves. The preference of symmetry in

Roman architecture usually meant a symmetrical facade, even though the women's area was usually smaller than the men's area because of fewer numbers of patrons. Usually solid walls

or placement on opposite sides of the building separated the men's and women's sections.

Roman bathhouses often contained a courtyard, or Palaestra, which was an open-air garden used for exercise. In some cases the builders made the palestra an interior courtyard, and in other cases the builders placed the palestra in front of the bathhouse proper and incorporated it into the formal approach. Sometimes the palestra held a swimming pool. Most often a colonnade outlined the palestra's edges.

Roman bathhouses offered amenities in addition to the bathing ritual. Ancillary spaces in the bathhouse housed food and perfume-selling booths, libraries, and reading rooms. Stages accommodated theatrical and musical performances. Adjacent stadia provided spaces for exercise and athletic competitions. Inside the bathhouses proper, marble mosaics tiled the elegant floors. Stuccoed walls frequently sported frescoes of trees, birds, and other pastoral images. Sky-blue paint, gold stars, and celestial imagery adorned interior domes. Statuary and fountains decorated the interior and exterior.

The Romans elevated bathing to a fine art, and their bathhouses physically reflected these advancements. The Roman bath, for instance, included a far more complex ritual than a simple immersion or sweating procedure. The various parts of the bathing ritual,(undressing, bathing, sweating, receiving a massage, and resting), required separated rooms which the

Romans built to accommodate those functions. The segregation of the sexes and the additions of diversions not directly related to bathing also had direct impacts on the shape and form of bathhouses. The elaborate Roman bathing ritual and its resultant architecture served as precedents for later European and American bathing facilities. Formal garden spaces and opulent architectural arrangement equal to those of the Romans re-appeared in Europe by the end of the eighteenth century. Major American spas followed suit a century later.

After a morning's work, most Romans enjoyed spending the afternoon at the thermae or public bath. They were a social meeting place. Men and women enjoyed coming to the baths not only to get clean but to meet with friends, exercise, or read at the library. The baths had hot and cold pools, towels, steam rooms, saunas, exercise rooms, and hair cutting salons. They had reading rooms and libraries, as among the freeborn, that had the right to frequent baths, the majority could read.

In some ways, thermae resembled modern-day spas. The Romans raised bathing to a high art as they socialized in these communal baths. Courtship was conducted, as well as sealing business deals, as they built lavish baths on natural hot springs. Such was the importance of baths to Romans that a catalogue of buildings in Rome from 354 AD documented 952 baths of varying sizes in the city. the charge:

given thousands of years of roman engineering and ritualization of water…you are to propose a balneae in the core of modern rome .


apodyterium (changing rooms), palaestrae (exercise rooms), tepidarium (medium heat room),

caldarium (hot room), frigidarium (cold room), laconicum (dry heat), sudatorium (wet heat),

aleipterion, destrictorium, unctorium (massage), heliocaminus (sunbathing), natation (outdoor swimming pool), a trattoria ( juice, wine, and coffee bar),

+ or - …

note: the order of bathing and body care was not a fixed routine, but only a general framework that received its inspiration from the medical traditions of antiquity and mere habit. The size, layout, and luxury of a bath – that is, its architecture – must have also affected the preferred order of routine of bathing. Anywhere along the recommended course, deviations, omissions, or repetitions were possible. One bathed as one wished.

Bathing in the Roman World, pg. 18 teams: you will work in teams of 2…more brains, more hands, more horsepower… site(s): you will select, analyze, and document sites prior to the 21 june 2015. Analysis should include both hard and soft information. Consider location, history, neighborhood context, size,


2. geometry, social | political boundaries, natural physical features, man made features, circulation, sensory | experiential qualities, human and cultural characteristics, environmental characteristics, light, textures, materials, patterns, and so on. assumptions: arch 428 required reading, and research, is complete (see required references below). our 1 st studio day, monday June 21 st , will be spent touring the selected site(s).


1. site(s) may be selected, explored, documented, and analyzed by any number of teams. presentation format: all final balneae boards, for the rome studio exhibit (fall 2015), will be 24” x 36” oriented vertically. These boards should contain analog & digital work, site analysis, and evidence of your research for Arch 428

required references for arch 428 history component will serve as historical and precedent research for your balneae proposition (these may be shared between team members):

Bathing in the Roman World | Fikrit Yegul

+ one, or more, of the following:

The Art of the Bath | Karl Petzke & Sara Slavin

Relax Interiors for Human Wellness | Frame Frame

Spa Design | Daab

World Spa Design I & II | Ying Lee

Spa: The Sensuous Experience | Robert Henry & Julie Taylor

Peter Zumthor Therme Vals | Sigrid Hauser

Seven Partly Underground Rooms and Buildings for Water, Ice, and Midgets | Mary-Ann Ray

Reference materials on Japanese bath houses or Finnish | Swedish saunas:

Getting Wet: Adventures in the Japanese Bath | Eric Talmadge

Washing off the Dust: Bathing in Medieval Japan | Lee Butler

More than A Bath: An Examination of Japanese Bathing Culture | Adam M Merry |

The Book of the Bath | Francoise De Bonneville

… or your suggested alternative additional references:

Claridge, A. Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford University Press, USA, 2010.

Henig, M (ed). A Handbook of Roman Art. Phaidon, London, 2010.

Oleson, J.P. The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World.


University Press, USA, 2009.

Swerling, G. (ed). The Baths of Caracalla. Electa, Rome, 2012.

Vitruvius. On Architecture. Penguin, London, 2009.

Wheeler, M. Roman Art and Architecture. Thames & Hudson, London, 2011.

In Rome , the Colle Oppio park behind the Colosseum in Rome contains the remains of the

Trajan baths. The site of the frigidarium of Diocletian's baths was used to construct the Church of Santa Maria delli Angeli near the Piazza della Repubblica and what was the main hall now houses part of the Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum) and contains many of the sculptures and mosaics taken from the baths. The museum is open each day apart from


But the largest and most famous ruins of ancient Roman bathhouses, and those giving the best impression of the size and grandeur of the original bathhouses, are to be found at

Rome's Caracalla baths. There are not normally long queues to visit and the site has the advantage of full facilities for persons with disabilities. It can, however, be very hot in the summer - take a bottle of water.


Via delle Terme di Caracalla 52 (south of the Roman Colosseum ).

How to get there:

The baths can be reached from metro line 'B', alighting at the Circo Massimo station.

Alternatively, take bus route numbers 11, 27, 90, 90b, 94, 118, 673; or trams numbers 13, 30,


Opening Hours:

Caracalla is open every week on Monday mornings from 9am to 1pm and from Tuesday to

Sunday from 9am until one hour before sunset, public holidays excepted.

Cost (2009): Entrance costs €6 and the ticket, valid for seven days, can also be used for entrance to the Villa dei Quintili and the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. list of roman thermae:

Thermae of Agrippa, Thermae of Diocletian, Thermae of Trajan, Thermae of Caracalla,

Thermae of Constantine, Thermae of Nero, Thermae of Titus, Thermae of Decius arch 428 | post rome: after leaving rome we will visit the projects cited below among others:

Ronchamp | Le Corbusier

La Tourette | Le Corbusier

Church of St. Pierre Firminy | Le Corbusier

Maison de Verre | Pierre Chareau

Centre Georges Pompidou | Piano & Rogers

Arab Institute | Jean Nouvelle note: prior to the end of the spring 2015 all teams are to coordinate with one another and select one of the projects cited above so that all six projects are covered. Each team will produce boards that are 24” x 36” oriented vertically. These boards should contain both analog and digital work that document and analyze the selected project. Naturally you are free to begin your analysis and documentation at any time. Each team should also be prepared to lead an on site discussion of their selected post Rome project that we will be visiting. some films of interest:

Roma (1972) | Fellini

La Dolce Vita ( 1960) | Fellini

The Belly of an Architect (1987) | Peter Greenaway

Habemus Papum (2011) | Nanni Moretti