Built towards the end of the first century, Nîmes amphitheatre is one of the best preserved relics of the Roman Empire to be found in France. In Roman times the arena had a 24,000 spectator capacity on over 34 terraces and featured an ingenious circulation system. The arena had a shelter which covered the upper the terraces made of stretched canvas (Latin “velas”). Using this idea of a canvas like material, the practice designed a removable cover.
Today the arena has a new configuration: 85 m long, 60 m wide and a 7,000 seat capacity. The inflatable lense shaped cover- made of canvas stretched and expanded into position inflating machines – is fixed to an elliptical beam and which is supported by thirty steel posts. Between the outer perimeter and the upper row terraces, the cover is pulled by reinforced aluminium polycarbonate strips that offer a direct view over the arena’s upper stands. The covering means that the arena is no longer just a simple landmark, but a truly usable arena for the city, which also preserves its original features and historical integrity.