How are domes built


Technically called spherical cap, the dome belongs to the curved roof forms and here again to the single-surface roof forms. In civil engineering it is one of the shell structures. Here, too, it can either be designed as a continuously curved shell or consist of individual segments. In this case it is a folded structure.

The dome has played a central role in sacred buildings for centuries. Exemplary here are the Buddhist stupas from the 3rd century BC. The Roman pantheon from around 118 to 125 AD, the Hagia Sophia from the 6th century as a prototype of the Ottoman mosques or the domes in the Byzantine tradition such as the one around 690 AD. erected called Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

In the Renaissance, the vaulting of large rooms took on new dimensions. The cathedral of Florence, built between 1420 and 1436, for example, is designed as a double-shell brick dome with an enormous diameter of 45.52 m. The central building and thus the monumental crossing dome with tambour became the ideal. Michelangelo's St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, built from 1506 to 1626, served as a model well into the baroque era. In the 18th and 19th centuries, government buildings such as the Reichstag in Berlin or the Capitol in Washington received this roof shape, while other secular buildings such as market halls, concert halls and exhibition buildings followed.

By using reinforced concrete and steel scaffolding, modern domes (shell structures) can be built in far bolder shapes and with a larger span than wooden, stone or brick structures. Richard Buckminster Fuller, for example, created geodesic domes (spherical domes with a substructure of triangles) in lightweight construction from a steel construction, according to Norman Foster's plans the roof of the German Reichstag was built with a glass dome. It consists of a steel skeleton with inserted glass plates, is around 23.5 m high and has a diameter of 38 m. The glass dome provides the plenum of the Bundestag with natural daylight and is also used for ventilation.

Expertise on the subject

Roof shapes

Shell constructions

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Roof shapes

Barrel roof

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Sloped roof

Roof shapes

Buildings on the subject


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Special constructions

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Sports / leisure

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