Baths of Caracalla-2012.07.23

Posted: July 23, 2012 in 0-700s, 7.23, Baths, Bearing Masonry, Classical, Collective, Rome, Urban
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Baths of Caracalla

Architect: Collective

Location: Rome, Italy.


Building Type: Baths

Architecture Styles: Classical

Architectural Time Period:0-700s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Urban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings):

The Baths of Caracalla were Roman public baths,  built in Rome between AD 212 and 216, during the reign of the Emperor Caracalla. They would have had to install over 2,000 tons of material every day for 6 years in order to complete it in this time period. Records show that the idea for the baths were drawn up by Septimius Severus, and merely completed or opened in the lifetime of Caracalla.This would allow for a longer construction time frame. They are tourist attractions today.

My own exploration:

Keywords: History, Tectonic & Structure Expression


It is of great benefit to know about the history of the site and the urban context. The Baths were erected in the the southern part of the city. This area was previously beautified by the Severan dynasty with the construction of the via Nova-leading to the morthern part of the new Baths-and the Septizodim, a grandiose nymphaeum built by Septimius Severus on the slopes of the Palatine hill as a monumental backdrop to the beginning of via Appia.

The thermal complex was planned over three large sloping terraces, to camber the different levels between the small Aventine hill and the Carnene Valley.

9000 workers were employed daily for approximately five years in order to create a huge platform of about 337 x 328 meters.

Tectonic & Structure Expression

Since it is a historic ruins, I am interested in the building technology back then, I am looking for some tectonic evidence in order to read the intellectual idea for ancient architects

The different layers of space are coordinate with the structure, the arches are the main structural expression

Different depth of space

Through the ruins we can read the brick pattern and get a better understanding of how to build this mega structure

The bricks start deform as they form the arch

The vast open space, the structural expression here would be described as different typology for vertical layers

The logical and regular layering of mosaic floor patterning

It is a good example of how to use brick to build an arch, and the axial spatial quality can attribute to the placement of the archway

It is a natural “section” for us, there are two different kind of brick patterns: on the base it is more irregular than it is on the top, from my own understanding, it is because the base need to be more strong to take the upper load, and the irregularity can increase the friction among different bricks. On the contrary,  at the top, the regularity of the brick pattern can make the construction faster while owning the same weight.

The marble facade was attached on the brick behind it, which gives us the sense of their tectonic nature.

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