05 Jan Roman domestic architecture – insula
In the Latin language, insula (plural insulae) means “island” and the term has been connected to the high-rise apartment dwellings of the Roman world, presumably since they rose like islands from the built landscape of the city. The insulae of ancient Roman cities provided housing for the bulk of the urban populace. The plebs—defined as ordinary people of lower- or middle-class status—tended to inhabit insulae. During the heyday of the mercantile city of Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber river (less than 20 miles from Rome), a building boom produced many such insulae, making Ostia a city of high-rise apartments, a phenomenon of urban building that would not manifest itself again until the Industrial Revolution.