Colditz Castle, a notorious prisoner of war camp in Nazi Germany, was supposed to be escape-proof. But in World War II, a group of British officers dreamt up an escape plan: in a secret attic workshop, they constructed a two-man glider out of bed sheets and floorboards. The plan was to fly to freedom from the roof of the castle, but the war ended before they could put it to the test. Now a team of aero engineers and carpenters rebuilds the glider in the same attic using the same materials and use a bathtub full of concrete to catapult the glider off the roof to find out if the legendary glider plan would have succeeded.
Geoffrey Baer hosts this survey of 10 influential buildings in a cross-country journey of American architecture. Meet the daring architects who imagined them and learn the stories of how they came to change the way we live, work, worship, learn, shop and play.
The Colosseum is a monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty. Its graceful lines and harmonious proportions concealed a highly efficient design and advanced construction methods that made hundreds of arches out of 100,000 tons of stone. In its elliptical arena, tens of thousands of gladiators, slaves, prisoners and wild animals met their deaths. Ancient texts report lions and elephants emerging from beneath the floor, as if by magic, to ravage gladiators and people condemned to death. Then, just as quickly, the Colosseum could be flooded with so much water that ships could engage in sea battles. Could these legends be true? Now, with access to one of the world’s most protected world heritage sites, archaeologists and engineers team up to re-create ancient Roman techniques to build a 25-foot lifting machine and trap-door system capable of releasing a wolf into the Colosseum’s arena for the first time in 1,500 years.