In an age when we are accustomed to spectacular constructions, skyscrapers in concrete and steel that rise up for hundreds of metres towards the sky, we have some difficulty being amazed by an installation comprising a marble work like Stone Gate, which is less than 5 metres tall. And even the presence of the Verona Arena on its background may not seem so extraordinary either.
Actually, the millennial presence of pyramids, obelisks, arenas, temples, concrete evidence of man’s ability to use stone in constructions, and of the suitability of this material for the purpose, makes their existence seem ordinary and everlasting. But if we ask ourselves how these structures, these genuine engineering masterpieces of their time, were accomplished, starting with the transportation of the building materials, to the conception of the structures for the installation, and the actual assembly phase, right through to the securing of the entire construction, then we would indeed be astonished and fascinated.
In this sense, the installation of Stone Gate in Piazza Brà has been a new and different experience from the previous one back in 2012, which took place inside a modern hall at the Marmomacc trade fair. The imposing presence of the Verona Arena, which concurrently resizes the volume and enhances the symbolic value of the work, with an evident and sophisticated reference to the round arch which we, with Stone Gate, wanted to achieve, together with the intrinsic difficulties in handling the work on the historic cobbled surface onto which it was placed, gave us the opportunity to become fully aware of the great analogy between the methods, the movements, the technical solutions which we used and those of who, during the first Century AD, put up the walls around the Veronese amphitheatre.
Although we had the help of modern technologies (in actual fact, the modernised versions of existing machinery at the time: i.e. cranes) which made the job manageable in time frames that were compatible with the running of such a major public space, the decision to use materials and methods already popular during the Roman era, such as the use of hewn stones applied dry, without the aid of chemical adhesives, the functional exploitation of forces (gravity, friction, tension, etc..) which the ancient builders implemented, the use of wooden centring as the only supporting structure during the assembly phase, have given Stone Gate an unprecedented value.
A tribute to the design element that has marked the history of architecture, which while testifying to the great heritage left by our ancestors also emphasises technique and intelligence, which are still topical today.
Watch the assembling of Stone Gate @ Marmomacc 2012
Design: Raffaello Galiotto
Engineering: Alessandro Serafini
Engineering consultancy: Lorenzo Jurina
Images: top and second picture by Ilaria Stella; assembling picture and video by designer Raffaello Galiotto