Text and pictures by Maria Teresa Tozzi
The ancient wash-houses of Ostia Antica, known as “The Fountains”, are located in the Gente Salinatoria Street, near the ancient Ostia “village”. They are one of the most important buildings for his socio-historical value.
The construction was designed by architect Raffaele De Vico in 1931 and it was one of the first buildings made of reinforced concrete, decorated with quadrangular columns. That project included also the arrangement of the gardens close to the ancient Ostia “village”. Initially, they were called gardens of Porto and then “Parco dei Ravennati”.
In the past, the use of public wash-houses was very diffused. When they lost their function, they were neglected or demolished.
For this reason, the ancient wash-houses of Ostia Antica were restored and renovated. The restoration project of the architect Piero Labbadia started in February 2013, thanks to the collaboration of the Soprintendenza and technicians of UOT. The restoration work was divided into two phases: first, the ancient building was restored and then a multipurpose space with glass walls was made. The typical internal structure of 1930s such as original flooring and an ancient wash-house with normal water outflow was kept.
The new building, simply re-named “I Lavatoi” was inaugurated on 28th November 2014. during the occasion of the 130th anniversary of Roman Coast reclamation.
This new small space will be used for events like conferences, exhibitions, concerts, screenings and tastings of typical products.
However, the new building has never opened to the public and it is in a state of neglect again. The cultural associations of the territory want that the new space will be given to one of them and for this reason they ask for a call for tenders.
In the future the new structure could make a contribution to improving of Ostia Antica.