Telling the story of Roman architecture with light
The ancient Imperial Forums in Rome are a prominent archaeological site in the Italian capital and some of the most prized cultural artefacts of the “Eternal City” with its rich heritage of art treasures. Five monumental public squares, once surrounded by majestic buildings, were constructed in the early imperial period as an extension to the Forum Romanum. Each was named after the emperor who built them, and although the forums today may look like a disorderly collection of ruins, they still hint at the past glory and architectural splendour of this ancient metropolis. Vittorio und Francesca Storaro applied themselves to this mission and designed a lighting concept for the Imperial Forums that set ambitious goals. Their idea was to use the visual language of light to tell the story of prominent historic characters and their structures. Light and architecture fuse together in perfect synergy to present the illustrious personalities of the three emperors Augustus, Nerva and Trajan, as well as the symbolic content of the forums which each erected.
The lighting concept for the individual forums, as the experts described, is based on specific fundamentals: “monodirectional for the Forum of Augustus, axial for the Forum of Nerva, and centrifugal for Forum of Trajan.” By employing the imagery of light, each forum stands out with emphasis on their central elements, whilst warm white light (3000K) illuminates each of their characteristic architectural details, all other areas of the forums are illuminated using neutral white light (4000K). The warm white light for the Forum of Augustus centres on the Temple of Mars Ultor, whereas in the Forum of Nerva it gives focus to the Colonnacce and the foundation of the Temple of Minerva, and in the Forum of Trajan, finally, illuminates the Column of Trajan and the Basilica Ulpia. In a manner of speaking, the notion of warm white light, so the Storaros, originates from the very individuals they represent, given the fact that the Roman emperors liked to carry the symbol of the sun as a sign of deity and throughout their history led their subjects to a path of sunlight. Explaining the substantive grounds for the lighting concept, Vittorio and Francesca Storaro continue: “We identified the need to strike a balance between the three great emperors and the peace they sought to maintain in their conquered regions, and with this in mind, we created the whole area around the centre of each forum to resemble an ambience of moonlight, symbolising the vital harmony between humanity and deity, between the moon and the sun.”