Building Londinium

London’s Roman Amphitheatre and Billingsgate Roman House and Baths challenge you to make a model Roman building over this Spring. You could make a temple, a townhouse, a villa, a bathhouse, a Forum-Basilica, an amphitheatre, a theatre – whatever you want.

How will you make your model? You could try making it:

  • Out of paper or card
  • By junk modelling
  • Using plastic bricks like Lego
  • Out of cake or biscuits (take a picture before you eat it!)
  • On Minecraft, Scratch or Animal Crossing
  • By drawing or painting it on paper

Everyone can take part, it's a challenge for children and adults alike and you can work as team or make it a solo project. In true Blue Peter style, here’s one are some we made earlier – firstly a Temple to Minerva made of Lego made by Public Programmes Manager Howard Benge and his family.

“The design of the temple is a very generic one and not based on any particular Roman temple. I had enough round pieces to make 4 columns on the front. From that, I knew I would need 6 roof pieces with a point at the top to make the pediment, the triangular block above the columns. Usually the Romans would decorate it with all sorts of designs and images of their gods and mythology.You can see that I put a fish in there. You can decorate yours more and it is worth looking at different temples form round the Roman Empire for inspiration.The rest of the building is a basic rectangle. I put a step in all the way round to give that feeling of it being higher up than other buildings. Each temple was usually dedicated to a god with a statue of that god inside, so you could choose Jupiter, Mars, Minerva or many others.”

Public programmes projects manager Kim Biddulph made this model of a Roman house from an old cardboard box covered with white paper for the plastered walls.

“I didn’t have any white paint! I did have red, though, and painted the roof red for the terracotta tiles they used. I cut some paper straws in half longways and stuck them on the roof to look like the curved imbrex tiles Romans used on their roofs. The second roof at the front is over a peristyle, which is a bit like a verandah. I made a window on the back of the house. Some Roman windows seem to have had triangular openings for glass, so I cut a piece of cardboard with a pattern of triangles to be the window frame. I cut up a green plastic bottle and used it for window glass because Roman window glass was often green in colour after being recycled. I put some fake tea-lights inside for the finishing touch.”
Three angles of a small cardboard house with white walls and a sloped red roof. The front of the house has an open verandah with seven pillars and the back had a small triangular window.
Kim's white and red roman house complete with windows and a verandah.

You could draw us a construction of a Roman house instead of building a model if you want. Watch this video with archaeological artist Judith Dobie as she gives Kim Biddulph of Billingsgate Roman House and Baths a masterclass in how she draws 3D buildings using really simple resources i.e. an HB pencil, a piece of paper, and some pieces of tracing paper. The video will premiere on Saturday 19th December at 1.00pm.

Education officer Andrew Lane made a model too. Here’s what he says:


“Last week I had a new boiler fitted, and the large, cardboard box this arrived in provided the inspiration for this model. Roman London was filled with different types of buildings. Many were inspired by the Classical architecture of the Mediterranean world: like traditional Roman temples, usually rectangular in plan on raised podiums accessed by steps at the front. In the north-western provinces of the empire, like Britannia, however, another type is found, the Romano-Celtic temple. Very different in form these have a tall central room surrounded by an ambulatory and are often embellished with a porch or veranda across the front.“
A large red and white two story building, complete with an open verandah at the front, round windows and a triangle red roof atop a small tower.
Andrews impressive Roman building inspired by classical Mediterranean architecture.

If you want to use a template to make a Roman building out of paper or card go to the Guildhall Art Gallery’s page where you can find some patterns for making your own Roman bathhouse and gateway. We’d love to see how you get on with these, and do decorate them with your own designs!

The best models will be featured in an online exhibition on social media in the New Year. Share your works in progress and finished models using the hashtag #BuildingLondinium on Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, or email them to us at BillingsgateBathhouse@cityoflondon.gov.uk.

The best models will be featured in an online exhibition on social media in the New Year.