A rural dwelling for the master of the estate
Creation of a residential section is the defining trait of an architectural programme that gave rise to a villa. The rooms that provided holiday comfort for the owner and his family gave onto a 400 sq. metre ornamental courtyard, bounded on all four sides by a colonnaded gallery, or peristyle. A pool added to the charm of a garden.
These rooms, measuring some 300 sq. metres, were arranged in an L-shape around the western corner of the peristyle. This meant that a symmetrical arrangement of the spaces was impossible, and that there was no ceremonial room located in the centre of one of the short sides of the courtyard – thus breaking with the axial concept so often used in this type of dwelling. The arrangement may have been chosen in order to provide the living and dining areas with the best light, or to protect the residential section from the north wind.
The baths, with a surface area of 130 sq. metres, were located at the southern corner of the peristyle, sharing a wall with the apartments. From the peristyle, one entered the frigidarium
, or cold room. At the centre, a 12 sq. m pool was bordered by polychrome marble fragments inserted at regular intervals against a background of black tesserae
– a technique known as opus scutulatum
. This remarkable room, which also served as a changing-room, provided access to two heated rooms, necessary for the Roman style of bathing. An area with marble surfacing may have been used as a latrine.