Italy unveils the winning floor design for Colosseum arena

Italian firm wins contract to build Colosseum’s hi-tech arena floor, with a completion date of 2023.

Rome’s Colosseum will have a new retractable arena floor within the next two years, thanks to a hi-tech project unveiled by the Italian culture ministry on 2 May.

The €18.5 million contracts to build and install the flexible floor were won by Milan Ingegneria, a structural engineering and architecture firm with headquarters in Milan and Venice.

Hailing it as an “ambitious” project, culture minister Dario Franceschini said the sophisticated floor design would allow visitors “to see the majesty of the monument” from its center.

The new floor will be “extremely light and completely reversible,” assures Milan Ingegneria, which boasts an international portfolio, including projects in collaboration with celebrated Italian architect Renzo Piano.

The platform will comprise hundreds of carbon fiber slats coated with Accoya timber, allowing natural light to reach the network of tunnels and underground chambers where animals and gladiators were once caged before contests began.

Franceschini said that the new floor would allow for the staging of “high level” cultural events inside the Colosseum, which reopened to visitors recently following an extended closure under Italy’s covid-19 restrictions.

In the days of imperial Rome, the sand-covered wooden arena floor hosted gladiator fights and animal hunts; however, in the late 19th century, the structure was removed, to allow for excavations, and was never fully replaced.

The project also includes installing a ventilation system to control the humidity and temperature of the underground rooms. At the same time, the “non-invasive” design of the floor means that it can be removed in the future if required.

The idea of rebuilding the Colosseum arena was launched in 2014 by the archaeologist Daniele Manacorda and was strongly supported by Franceschini, who tweeted at the time: “All that is needed is a bit of courage.”

Photo Ministero della Cultura