Lyon: the development of archetypal urban forms: an investigation into the public realm of the ancient city
Stewart-Sachs, Ann Gabriel
The public realm of the ancient, Western city evolved situationally – over time and in response to the ethos of its citizens. Some of the urban forms that were born within the context of the ancient city are still in use today. These now archetypal forms met the specific needs of the ancient city, and as they were repeated, patterns arose that came to define what a physical city was. The physical form of the city and the citizen body were intrinsically linked in the ancient world – and in ancient Greece were defined by the same word – polis. In Rome, the city and the collective citizenry come to be defined separately – as urbs and civitas, respectively. The Romans continue to use and elaborate upon the urban forms and patterns developed in Greece, in support of the Roman civitas. The development of the public realm and its most archetypal forms, from the stoa to the public plaza, of a selection of ancient cities will be examined in three parts; Greece, Rome, and Roman colonies. Within these three representative examples, a tripartite examination of the myths, rituals, and development of the public realm will give a complete picture of the city – its form and its ethos. First, the Greek city will be discussed using the architectural development of the Athenian agora within its historical and political context. With an understanding of the Greek public realm, specific architectural advancements, including the stoa form, of the Greeks can be better understood. Second, the Roman elaboration of the Greek forms will be traced in the growth of the Forum Boarium in Rome. While situationally-developed, the archetypal urban forms that grew in Greece and Rome came to define urban patterns that could be used in new settings, like those of colonial settlements, while retaining the ethos of the original. From its first colony of Ostia to its exemplary Gallic capital of Lyon, Rome established a codified set of urban patterns that both represented and explained Roman urban values to its expanding populace. Finally, the Roman contributions, particularly the colony and fora patterns that evolved in Gaul, will be examined in detail using the colonial capital of Lyon as the primary example. As new socio-political systems evolved – the polis in Athens and the Empire in Rome – correlating urban forms developed in support of them. In the ancient city, the city and the public realm were the containers for ritual action – and the architecture that developed reflected this basic purpose of the city.