The ‘Casa de los Mármoles’

THE ‘Casa de los Mármoles’ (MÉRIDA, SPAIN)

The case of this domus in the city of Mérida, set against the city wall, is typical of a well-known and well-documented development of an ancient aristocratic house with a peristyle, which during Late Antiquity was reoccupied and divided into autonomous family units, with multiple kitchens, enclosures and corrals. The emphasis here is on reusing structures and adapting them without changing their purpose. Documentation, both graphic and literary, was relatively abundant and explicit, but it was also necessary to reflect on the deterioration of the architecture. How could the impoverishment and reoccupation of the site be expressed without any elements other than the architectural aspect, while deliberately avoiding the appearance of contextual elements?

Suggested reconstructions and examples illustrating the ruralization of houses in the Visigothic period served as the basis for the reconstruction work. Based on these proposals, which were adapted to the period in question, supplemented and enriched by the play on atmosphere and texture, the emphasis was placed on a series of archaeologically proven degradations. For example, a window in the model has been opened to reveal traces of fire damage. Moreover, the collapsed roofs and walls have been deliberately left as they are, doors were removed for the sake of convenience. Renovations are modest, focussing on residual plasterwork, a rammed earth floor and a thatched roof in place of what was once the portico of a courtyard paved with black slate and white marble tiles, with ornamental trees, a well and a fountain. However, life has not disappeared from this house, as evidenced by the light that shyly escapes from the windows.

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Invisibles cities
Towns of late antiquity in southern Iberia and northern Africa (300-800)

A Atlas & Iconem exposition

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