For my part of British Science Week, I was given the task of designing a display revolving around the topic of my choice, Architecture. Rather than focusing on arches specifically, I decided to broaden the information and open it up to many different aspects of architecture.
As I am particularly interested in the topic, I learnt that focusing on the science side of architecture more difficult that I had first thought. I found that I had to first wrap my head around how the Romans actually managed to get their constructions to stand, and then concentrate on simplifying and limiting what I had gathered. The aqueducts were fascinating to research, as the Romans had a considerable grasp of how they worked and how to create the perfect speed of flow, ensuring even the smallest of towns received water! One of the most difficult things to grasp was the materials used by the Romans, as this was particularly scientific involving the Calcination of Lime creating Mortar, which was then used in essentially all of their constructions.
On the day, I had a number of visitors who were particularly interested in the materials used, and were fascinated by how light and porous some of the materials actually were (i.e. the Tufa block). As my table was located beside the Great Bath, I was able to point out where they could find these materials, which are hidden unless you’re looking for it!
The small collection of columns which showed the differences between the column orders was a particular interest to many, as the intricate details on the columns astounded many people. I was able to have a small piece of a column on display too, showing the details and thickness of the columns that were used by the Romans. It was especially impressive how much of the columns capital remained prominent, specifically for how heavy the item was and how damaged the bottom part of the piece actually is.
As it is not common practice to touch items on display, many people were hesitant to touch the materials I had out, and were even hesitant to touch the arch activity. After watching other visitors try, more people (not just children) began approaching the table and were particularly interested in trying their hand at being a mini architect!
Lucy Pidgeon, Bath Spa University