Roofing Schemes for the Imperial Cult Building

The following computer simulations of the Imperial Cult Building in the Pompeian forum were produced during the spring semester of 1994 as a project for Professor John J. Dobbins' course on Pompeii. Since there is little evidence concerning the nature and form of the completed building and its roofing system, I explored these problems through computer-based reconstructions and animations. I constructed the models around an AutoCAD plan of the building provided by Professor Dobbins. Using the plan, I created two conjectural reconstructions, one based on August Mau's reconstruction and another of my own design. Through computer modeling and animation I have presented the effects of different roofing systems on the spatial character of the building.

The models used for the animations were created using Autodesk AutoCAD 12. I utilized the solid modeling features of the Advanced Modeling Extension to model the vaults, pediments, and entablatures. The models were kept very simple and abstract in order to keep the focus on the spatial character of the building, and for ease in manipulation. The 3D computer representations were imported into Autodesk's 3D Studio, a program that allows the user to create an animated flic by placing lights and programming camera movements. The result in this case is a series of abstract studies involving a camera moving around and through the models.

The animations

The Imperial Cult Building as it exists today.

The first animation begins with a plan view of the ruins and then enters and views the interior of the building. The animation uses the plan of the building extruded to a height of four meters, approximately the height of the standing walls. This animation is intended to provide the viewer with a visit to the site and a study of the effects of light and shadow that the articulated wall surfaces create. It is also intended to serve as a comparison with the other studies.

The Imperial Cult Building as interpreted by August Mau.

This animation is based on August Mau's reconstruction of the building. It is interesting to contrast the space of this building with that of the standing ruins. Both animations are constructed with the same camera field of view, and similar camera heights. This reconstruction creates a very different space, open to the sky and enclosed by the 10-12 meter high walls. It also eliminates the dynamic quality of the space present in the ruins, and results in an ambiguous sense of scale.

The Imperial Cult Building roofed by a vaulted system.

This reconstruction and animation explores the possibilities of the space when covered by a great barrel vault. The vaulted apse is combined with a barrel vault covering the main space based upon similar arrangements in Roman baths. The exedrae are covered by vaults that emphasizes the secondary axis and transfer the thrust of the main vault away from the walls of the neighboring buildings. This space is markedly different from the Mau reconstruction and results in both a grander scale and more dynamic quality.
Copyright (c) 1994 by John J. Dobbins, all rights reserved.
Last Modified: Friday, 23-Sep-1994 10:40:01 EDT