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    Microclimate Simulation for Preservation

    by Sabatino Albero

    In an ancient Roman structure, valuable frescoes are being threatened by variations in temperature and humidity. In the recent past, preservationists might have used potentially damaging physical probes to study the problem and determine solutions. Today, noninvasive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis software is coming to the rescue.

    The Domus Aurea ("Golden House") was built in Rome by Emperor Nero in 64 A.D. It was richly decorated with frescoes and precious stuccoes and covered in pure gold, representing imperial Roman architecture at its most opulent. Following Nero's fall in 68, the Domus Aurea was completely buried under Emperor Trajan's baths.

    Through the rest of Rome's colorful history, the Domus Aurea has survived as one of the world's most architecturally complex underground structures. However, after nearly 2000 years, the elements have taken their toll on this national treasure. Adversely affected by interior microclimatic conditions, the rich frescoes have started to decay.

    It has been partially opened to visitors since 1999 and is scheduled to be fully reopened soon. So it was vital to find a solution to the problem of decay before the deterioration became more serious. To study the problem, Italy's Interdepartmental Centre of Science and Technology for Historical and Architectural Conservation (CISTeC) is using the CFD software, STAR-CD from the CD adapco Group.   >>>

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    Mural paintings inside the Domus Aurea, showing deterioration due to the interior climate.
    Photo: CISTeC

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    The Domus Aurea in Rome, built by Emperor Nero in 64 A.D.
    Photo: CISTeC

     

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