Since the dawn of time, humans have been trying to meet their basic needs. For many years, basic human needs included food, water, air, and shelter, but more recently, many scholars have been changing what is deemed a basic need. University of California at Berkeley, in their Division of Equality and Inclusion, has done some recent research that has tweaked the basic needs: physical health, hygiene, housing, transportation, mental health, sleep, finances, and food. So how many of these new basic needs involve architecture? The most obvious need is housing, but without architecture leading advancements in interior services, there would be no decent hygiene because there would be no indoor plumbing. There would be no significant need for physical health because people would not be able to get sanitized and safe help within the walls of a hospital or physical therapy facility. The overwhelming population’s mental health would be in the trenches because there would be no sense of safety from the ability to lock one’s doors once it gets dark. There would be no need for easily accessible entertainment because it would have never developed into what it is today. 

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The University of California at Berkley’s Research Diagram of Basic Needs_©

Entertainment in Ancient Rome | Roman Entertainment

Starting in Ancient Rome, the Roman government realized the dangers of having idle citizens – idle bodies and minds could threaten the empire by causing an uprising, especially those in the poorer class. The Roman government put on many different forms of entertainment, many of which were accessible to the masses. With more citizens using this free entertainment, they began to love and live for these various forms of entertainment.

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The Roman Coliseum in the early morning_ ©Photo: Robin-Angelo Photography/Getty Images

Theatre in Rome

The Roman government provided many theatres scattered throughout their cities to ensure that citizens could be entertained where they were within the empire. These theatres could seat as few as 7,000 and were grand, open-air spaces that housed various plays and dramas. These theatres were marvels of architecture at the time, built with Roman Concrete and layered seating that amplified the sound and allowed more than a few people to hear the production. With architectural innovation, these amphitheatres would have developed into the beauty that still stands to this day and would have only been able to accommodate a small number of people leaving more people to be idle and possible cause problems for the empire. 

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Roman Theater Amman View from the Citadel Hill _©Photo: Haupt & Binder

Theater Today

Theater today has evolved quite significantly since the Romans began their theatre entertainment. Much of the evolution is also thanks to Dankmar Adler in the late 1800s in Chicago with his discovery of how to design an acoustic space properly. Before, interior theatres were built in a circle and tended to have horrible acoustics with dead sound spaces. Still, Adler discovered that creating the theatre to resemble the shape of a megaphone, both in plan and section, would give the space what he called an Iso-acoustic Curve that would amplify the sound and allow the acoustics to be heard near perfectly anywhere in the theatre. Without this discovery and the Roman architectural principles, the theatre would have never developed and taken off as it did. Without the ability to amplify the sound coming from the stage, only a handful of people would have been able to hear an opera singer or a theatrical movement. These architectural advancements were necessary for the amphitheatre to gain popularity. This would have led to an indoor theatre being developed, leading to no film and no movies or tv shows. Humans today would be stuck with books, board games, and other means of entertainment deemed so prehistoric to many people in today’s society. 

Auditorium Building Longitudinal Section (as planned), published in the July 1888 edition of The Inland Architect And News Record, held by the University of California and digitized by Google_ ©Photo: Mike Hume / Historic Theatre Photos

Sports in Rome

The Colosseum, also called the Flavian Amphitheatre, was the most famous entertainment place in the Roman Empire. It was the home to numerous gladiator battles, which were usually bloody fights between men and wild animals and executions of Christians by lions. It was periodically flooded to be used for naval battles. The people of Rome loved bloodshed, and one of their favourite pastimes was to see others beat each other to death or watch as a savage beast ate another. The fans in the Colosseum were usually the ones that decided the loser’s fate in battle, always in favour of more bloodshed. In today’s society, it isn’t socially acceptable to fight someone to the death for entertainment purposes. However, this area can still be seen in today’s architecture through American football and soccer stadiums. The entertainment value in gladiator battles and football games are very similar though both are more brutal than most other popular entertainment venues at the time. The area could seat over 50,000 spectators and almost always be at capacity, similar to today’s turnout for sporting events.

Diagram of the Colosseum_ ©
Diagram of the Colosseum_ ©

Sports Today | Roman Entertainment

The enthusiasm and spirit of sports have not changed drastically since Ancient Roman gladiator battles, and honestly, neither has the architecture. Almost all stadiums today are in the shape of an oval or a circle to allow all the fans in attendance to have a prime seat to watch the game’s action, just like in the Colosseum. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, opened in 1923, pays even more homage to the architecture of the Colosseum with very similar exterior repeating arches and tied seating around the entire venue. If the Colosseum had never been constructed, sports entertainment as people know it today would be a very different scene. People would not have the same enthusiasm and excitement that comes out with sporting events, and these sports might not even be around. Even though fans do not get to choose the fate of the opposing team anymore, they still go wild with their enthusiasm for their team and will broadcast their feelings about a game just like they did in the Roman times.

A drone aerial view shows the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at Exposition Park as Los Angeles County _©Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
A drone aerial view shows the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at Exposition Park as Los Angeles County _©Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Basic human needs may have evolved, but the architecture of those needs has been the centrepiece of how those needs have developed. Without architecture, there would be no homes, no hospitals or doctor’s offices, no sense of safety, and no formal venues for entertainment which would plummet the mental and physical health of the entire population. A world without architecture is hard to conceive and fully understand because architecture is everywhere, even in minor details. Architecture has provided for every single need a person could ever have and will continue to evolve and meet more needs of more people everywhere because life without architecture is no life at all.


Berkeley , U.of C. (2021) Basic Needs, Research & Reporting | Basic Needs. Available at:  (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 

Division of Equity and Inclusion, U.of B. (2021) Basic Needs, Berkeley Basic Needs. University of California at Berkeley. Available at:  (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 

Bradley, J.B. and Royalty, D.R. (2001) Roman Entertainment, Ancient Roman Entertainment. Wabash College. Available at:  (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 

Angelo, R. (2019) The Roman Coliseum in the Early Morning, GettyImages. Available at:  (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 

Haupt and Binder (1997) Roman Theatre of Amman, Museums in Amman. Universe in Universe. Available at:  (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 

Gregersen, C.E. and Saltzstein, J.W. (1990) Dankmar Adler: His Theatres and Auditoriums. Athens, OH: Swallow Press, Ohio State University. 

Adler, D. and Hume, M. (2002) Auditorium Building Longitudinal Section, Historic Theater Photos. Available at:  (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 

Augustyn, A. (2021) Colosseum, Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Available at:  (Accessed: November 23, 2022). 

Kindersley, D. (2022) Roman Colosseum, DK Find Out! Available at: (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 

McNew, D. (2020) Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Stadium, NBC Los Angeles. Available at: (Accessed: November 22, 2022). 


Rachel is currently in her last year at Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma, United States. She will be graduating with her Bachelors in Architectural Design and a Minor in History of Architecture. It could be said that architecture rules her life, but she couldn’t imagine being obsessed with anything else.