Nero's Golden House
September 2016 - After the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, the Roman Emperor Nero took advantage of the space where many buildings had burned down to build himself a new palace right in the middle of downtown Rome, which he called the Golden House (Domus Aurea). We know about the Golden House in two ways. The Roman historian Suetonius describes it for us, and also archaeologists have found it and excavated it (and you can visit it in Rome today).
The Golden House was certainly very luxurious. For example, it had an eight-sided dining room with a ceiling that was painted with the moon and stars. On nice evenings, according to Suetonius, you could open up the ceiling so that the real sky would be above you while you were eating.
Learn by doing: go see a place where there has recently been a big fire
Famous wall paintings from the Golden House
The Domus Aurea and the Roman Architectural Revolution, by Larry F. Ball (2003).
Roman Architecture, by Frank Sear (1983). The standard college textbook.
The Architecture of the Roman Empire: An Introductory Study, by William MacDonald (1982). Actually not so introductory, but it's got great illustrations that really make the building techniques clear.
Roman Imperial Architecture, by J. B. Ward-Perkins (1992). A more detailed textbook, and harder going.