German firms win bid to build giant retractable roof on Verona’s Roman amphitheater

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Verona Roman amphitheater

A Roman amphitheater in the Italian city of Verona will soon get a giant tarpaulin to protect opera goers – and the ancient monument itself – from bad weather.

The tender to build the retractable membrane has been won by a partnership of German engineering and architecture companies, it was announced on January 31.

The project, which will cost 13.5 million euros, will be carried out by the German companies Gerkan Marg & Partners (gmp) and Schlaich Bergermann & Partner (SBP). Their project was chosen through an international completion which drew nearly 90 proposals by firms from around the world, including companies in Britain, the US, Switzerland and Japan.

The choice of cloth for the roof will allow a subtle intervention that will not take focus away from the architecture of the historical arena, fundamentally preserving the roman amphitheater from future damage caused by the weather.

When not in use, the extendable membrane will fold up into a space on top of the centuries-old arena and will be all but invisible from the ground.

If approved by the Cultural Ministry in Rome, the membrane should be in place within three years. Part of the financing for the project will come from Calzedonia, an Italian fashion company that sells socks, underwear and swimwear.

The amphitheater, which is remarkably well-preserved, is one of the world’s great venues for concerts and operas. Built in 30 AD, the amphitheater has survived an earthquake that struck Verona in the 12th-century.

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