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The permanent artistic illumination of the Fori Imperiali in Rome

On the initiative of the Comune di Roma Capitale and Mayor Ignazio Marino, with thanks to the Sovrintendenza Capitolina, and with the planning support of Unilever Spa, the extensive area of the Fori Imperiali (encompassed by the Capitoline, Palatine and Quirinal hills) is the focus of a major illumination project entrusted to Professor Vittorio Storaro – who has won numerous international awards, including three Oscars, as the cinematographer of such masterpieces as Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor – and to architect Francesca Storaro, the lighting designer on various high-profile international projects. The working drawings, specifications, bills of quantities and installation of the system are being managed and supported by Acea Illuminazione Pubblica S.P.A.

Forum of Augustus

The metaphor that best describes the creative route that led to the concept for the lighting of this section is the journey that leads from the Earth to the Heavens: it is a route that starts with the seed sown by Julius Caesar during the Republic and ends with the harvesting of that seed by Augustus in the form of the Empire. Rome rose skyward through its Knowledge, its Organisation and its Civilisation, ILLUMINATING the known world like a sun. The central idea for the illumination of the Forum of Augustus carries within it the image of a light wave, which rises from the ground, starts to envelop the Temple of Mars Ultor with great luminous intensity and, while slowly fading, rises upwards to embrace the whole perimeter of the wall that surrounds – with the two Exedrae – the Forum, doing so unidirectionally, like the architecture of the Forum itself.

But Augustus was also the herald of the Pax Romana, symbolised by a light coming down from above with a lunar softness. The Forum area surrounding the Temple is, accordingly, lit from above, as if it were a form of protection delineating a privileged area, with neutral, soft, even lighting that casts the Forum as a stage on which an act of the History of Rome is played out.

Forum of Nerva

Just as the illumination of the Forum of Augustus finds its equilibrium amid the selective, unidirectional, even and suffused light, so the lighting of the Forum of Nerva – known originally as the Transient Forum – seems to complete and define the expansionist ambitions of the Empire. The right side, which delineates the Forum itself (where the columns that made way for the Temple of Minerva were aligned), sees a series of lights that, axially, provide upward lighting that defines a specific space – that in which the Temple of Minerva was erected. Above the line of the wall, a second series of lights, characterised by the same sense of unity, illuminates in an even, soft and neutral way all of the central ground of the Forum itself. Against this backdrop of lunar uniformity there emerge other architectural elements that composed the plinth of the Temple of Minerva: the Pronaos, illuminated in such a way as to highlight its ancient splendour, and the so-called “Colonnacce”, which are lit from the base upwards, with a specific directional axiality at the columns themselves.

Trajan’s Forum

Trajan’s Column serves as the centrifugal focal point of Trajan’s Forum, seeming as it does to push outwards from a centre, as if dragged by someone wanting to generate a wave of light that embraces the surrounding space. For this reason, the lighting concept takes its cue from Trajan’s Column, which itself seems to emit light, centrally, through a series of soft lights that trace out the perimeter of its square base. The light continues its journey, rising up on the circular column, thanks to two circles – concentric to the column itself – of selective lights that tell the whole story of the epic accomplishments of the Emperor. While the parallel columns that delineate the Basilica Ulpia are illuminated from below, the centre of the basilica is lit by a series of projectors that appear to rise up from the ground and that, in front of each column, extend their luminosity so far as to come up against a similar radiance generated by another series of lights that, in a centripetal attraction, merges with the first series, illuminating the entire floor of the basilica uniformly. The initially centripetal light becomes centrifugal, expanding throughout the world, like a luminous river.

Technical report

In all of the illumination of the IMPERIAL FORA, ERCO LED luminaires will be used, along with a small percentage of Guzzini luminaires, as per the indications of the final design. Across an area of around 20,000m2, we have a consumption of just 26 kW with a total of 520 projectors.

All of the LED luminaires used have specific illumination characteristics, with patented optical systems, such as ERCO’s SPHEROLIT collimators and lenses. The selected ERCO projectors guarantee efficient visual comfort and an extensive array of optics: narrow spots, spots, floods, wide floods, oval floods, wallwashers with various power classes and an exceptionally high level of design precision.

All of the luminaires also feature additional filters designed specifically for the “Imperial Fora in Rome” project by Francesca and Vittorio Storaro, made by ERCO.
The families of ERCO projectors used on the project are as follows: Lightscan, Parscoop, Grasshopper, Beamer and Focalflood.
For the LED linear bars, luminaires from iGUZZINI’s Linealuce Compact and Mini families were selected.

The colour temperature of the selected luminaires (both ERCO and iGUZZINI) of the LED sources will be White 3000k for the main architectural element of each Forum, and White 4000k for the remaining part of the Fora.

In relation to the Forum of Augustus, the main element will be the Temple of Mars Ultor, for the Forum of Nerva it will be the “Colonnacce” and the plinth of the Temple of Minerva, and for Trajan’s Forum it will be Trajan’s Column.

All of the projectors are managed by a HELVAR control system, which makes it possible to adjust with absolute precision the light intensity of the LED lights, both with DALI and dimmable projectors.

Each Forum will have a separate control board, located internally to protect it against inclement weather.


What is your opinion on the project taken up by Prof. Vittorio Storaro on the architectural lighting of Fori Imperiali?