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How the World’s Largest Dome Was Constructed: The Story of Filippo Brunelleschi and the Duomo in Florence

Even when Florence didn’t symbolize absolutely the pinnacle of human civilization on the finish of the thirteenth century, it needed to have been a powerful contender for the place. What the town lacked, nonetheless, was a cathedral befitting its standing. Therefore the development, which commenced in 1296, of simply such a holy construction, in accordance with formidable plans drawn up by architect Arnolfo di Cambio. However when di Cambio died in 1302, work got here kind of to a cease for practically half a century. Development resumed in 1344 beneath Giotto, whose personal dying three years later left the mission to his assistant Andrea Pisano, who was himself succeeded by Francesco Talenti, Giovanni di Lapo Ghini, Alberto Arnoldi, Giovanni d’Ambrogio, Neri di Fioravanti, and Andrea Orcagna.

None of those architects, nonetheless astute, managed to complete the cathedral: in 1418, it nonetheless had a gaping gap on prime the place its dome ought to have been, and in any case no viable design or engineering process to assemble one. “So they’d a contest, and everyone was invited to submit their initiatives,” says Youtuber Manuel Bravo, who tells the story in the video on the prime of the submit.

Enter the sculptor Filippo Brunelleschi, who declared, in impact, “I can do it. I can construct you the dome. And what’s extra, I can construct you the dome with out cash or earth.” That final was a reference to an earlier architect’s suggestion that the dome beneath building be supported with a mound of filth full of cash, so peasants would gladly volunteer to cart it away after completion.

Brunelleschi’s significantly extra elegant concept was impressed by the ruins of antiquity, not least the Pantheon, which then boasted the most important dome ever inbuilt Europe, mentioned by Bravo in a earlier video. On this one he breaks down the ingenious methods Brunelleschi used to outdo the Pantheon, and with out utilizing a short lived supporting construction of any variety. As an alternative, he included ring-like components “tying the dome from outdoors, as in the event that they had been belts like those we put on,” in addition to “a selected form of brickwork, a sample with a collection of spiral ribs” which “allowed them to lock collectively the bricks that had been positioned horizontally.” The end result, a construction “utterly self-bracing in all its phases of building,” has stood firmly since 1469 as, fairly actually, a crowning glory: not simply of the Duomo, however of Florence as nicely.

Associated content material:

How Filippo Brunelleschi, Untrained in Structure or Engineering, Constructed the World’s Largest Dome on the Daybreak of the Renaissance

Learn how to Construct Leonardo da Vinci’s Ingenious Self-Supporting Bridge: Renaissance Improvements You Can Nonetheless Take pleasure in Right this moment

The Life & Occasions of Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome: A Documentary

The Magnificence & Ingenuity of the Pantheon, Historic Rome’s Greatest-Preserved Monument: An Introduction

The Historical past of Western Structure: A Free Course Transferring from Historic Greece to Rococo

Free Course: An Introduction to the Artwork of the Italian Renaissance

Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embrace the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the ebook The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by means of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.



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