The Great Structures in Architecture by FatonHaziri

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									      The Great Structures
        in Architecture
                                       Antiquity to Baroque

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 Managing Editor                               Honorary Editor                           Honorary Editor
       F. Escrig                                C. A. Brebbia                               P. R. Vazquez
Escuela de Arquitectura                   Wessex Institute of Technology                     Fuentes 170
 Universidad de Sevilla                     Ashurst Lodge, Ashurst                       Pedregal de San Angel
         Spain                                    Southampton                             01900 Mexico D.E.
                                                       UK                                       Mexico

                                             Associate Editors

C. Alessandri                           W. P. De Wilde                            M. Majowiecki
University of Ferrara                   Free University of Brussel                University of Bologna
Italy                                   Belgium                                   Italy

F. Butera                               C. Gantes                                 S. Sánchez-Beitia
DI Tec, Politecnico di Milano           National Technical University of Athens   University of the Basque
Italy                                   Greece                                    Country, Spain

J. Chilton                              K. Ghavami                                J. J. Sendra
University of Nottingham                Pontifica Univ Catolica                   Universidad de Sevilla
UK                                      Brazil                                    Spain

G. Croci                                K. Ishii                                  M. Zador
Istituto di Tecnica delle Costruzioni   Yokohama                                  Technical University of Budapest
Italy                                   Japan                                     Hungary

A. de Naeyer                            W. Jäger                                  R. Zarnic
University of Ghent                     Technical University of Dresden           University of Ljubljana
Belgium                                 Germany                                   Slovenia
The Great Structures
  in Architecture
    Antiquity to Baroque

                F. Escrig
      Universidad de Sevilla, Spain
                               The Great Structures
                                 in Architecture
                                           Antiquity to Baroque

                           Series: Advances in Architecture, Vol. 22

                                                     F. Escrig

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INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................ vii

Chapter 1:             STONES RESTING ON EMPTY SPACE............................................................................1

Chapter 2:             THE INVENTION OF THE DOME.....................................................................................21

Chapter 3:             THE HANGING DOME......................................................................................................45

Chapter 4:             THE RIBBED DOME .........................................................................................................65

Chapter 5:             A PLANIFIED REVENGE. UNDER THE SHADOW OF BRUNELLESCHI .......................96

Chapter 6:             THE CENTURY OF THE GREAT ARCHITECTS ...........................................................120

Chapter 7:             THE OMNIPRESENT SINAN..........................................................................................150

Chapter 8:             EVEN FURTHER ............................................................................................................168

                       ARCHITECTURE ............................................................................................................180

Chapter 10:            SCENOGRAPHICAL ARCHITECTURE OF THE 18                                          CENTURY.................................209

                       BAROQUE ......................................................................................................................243
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I have always found amazing the fact that someone in         We could also think that architecture is something
the past spent his time piling stones up to mark or to       so recent that it appeared when the legendary corpus
delimit an area. But I get even more astonished when         of tradition was already finished, so that everything to
I come to think that somebody dared to live within that      be added to tradition would show an unmistakably
pile of stones and, in addition, felt safer inside it than   human character.
outside. That leads me to the conclusion that in those
days people had to have a great faith in their own skill     In case that is right, this book tries to start from the
to take shelter in the shade of a wall of rough stones       early origins without fearing to ignore undocumented
and that they fully relied on the physical laws to dare      precedents, but the historical sequence reveals itself
to live under a slab canopy.                                 as tricky. In any case, what is left is the proof of the
                                                             existence of these works, which have evolved in a
You could think that to build a dolmen, people only          progressive and sequential order as mentioned.
needed enough energy to move the huge stones it
was made of, its stability being guaranteed by the           The story that I tell, which starts in antiquity and
inertia of those colossal masses. But when someone           finishes in the Baroque in this first volume, and reaches
first succeeded in making a ceiling of pebbles,              to the present time in the volume to follow, intends to
supported by a material as weak as mud, that                 reflect on the great adventure of architecture. Every
represented a step forward as great as the control of        matter is open to opinions and everything is
fire. Nevertheless, that must have happened so long          objectionable. That is settled. But from the viewpoint
ago that no mythology tells about a God owning the           of someone who practices architecture, this text will
power to keep stones floating in the air. The Bible          possibly serve to better understand the monuments,
considers the existence of domes so obvious that not         to get closer to them and find out whether they should
only does it not mention it, but when an arch or a           be conserved or modified, and to be humbler when
temple is to be made, wooden architraves are used,           thinking that our tools are all-powerful. If we realised
choosing the noble building way instead of the               that our advantage is based in the fact that we have
popular brick based architecture. Neither do the             new materials invented by chemists and that in using
Babylonian legends mention anything referring to             sun-cooked bricks our results would not be different
architecture. And the Egyptians either, since they           to those of Babylonian craftsmen, we would be more
deified the human architect that constructed Zoser’s         modest. Instead of committing outrages favoured by
pyramids. Greek mythology makes reference to all             the resistance of concrete and steel, we could study
the forces of nature and to all the human passions           the importance of the forms and its optimisation.
and liking, but not to architecture. The Nordic ancient
cultures, more primitive, can deify the axe because it
is an instrument for wood building, which they never
do with architecture itself. And we could go on with
the Oriental mythologies with similar results.

Why does something so important stay outside the
consideration of men? In my previous book Towers
and Domes I advanced some hypotheses, but I must
insist on the instrumental character of the domestic
architecture and on the symbolic character of the great
architecture as a means to achieve other objectives.
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                                                                                         Stones Resting on Empty Space

                                               Chapter 1. STONES RESTING ON EMPTY SPACE

Huge limestone rocky formations that end on the             In any case, the abounding lime is good to make every
Mediterranean coasts penetrate the continent, shaping       material impermeable and lend it cohesion. The typical
steep and stony landscapes. Among them sandy,               Mediterranean house was at first no more than a
usually dry waterbeds, wind their way down and lead         modest cabin made of flat walls with small holes
the water of rivers that have their source far inland.      blocked up with boards as windows and a flat reed or
                                                            board roof. The prismatic modules could be attached
Some of the oldest civilisations bloomed in those rocky     to each other to make better use of walls. In this way
deserts and have survived keeping themselves on the         a city was born, growing along more or less straight
thin layer of earth resulting from the action of weather    streets with walls like fish backbones. The doors
over the stones. This was a world of shepherds in which     opened into streets along which ran traffic, waste and
the kindness of the weather allowed them to be partially    people, who found in them a public and open place as
sedentary, a world of fishermen and navigators whose        an extension of the small cubicles they lived in.
knowledge of the Earth was confined to the rocky
shores and the silky beaches, a world of soldiers that      The cattle shared the streets with trade, policy and
snatched out of their neighbours what their fields          culture. This primitive Mediterranean house did not have
lacked, a world of explorers in pursuit of paradises        an interior courtyard. That is a later invention whose
that inspired their epic poets.                             origin can be found in the country houses related to
                                                            farming and cattle farming. This form of construction
The Palaeolithic civilisation was based on very limited     is very similar to those developed by other civilisations
resources and a slowly made culture zealously passed        since it was almost spontaneous.
on from one generation to the next.
                                                            At the same time there was a more complex and
In other countries other great civilisations were growing   permanent architecture, that made of stones. This
around true orchards watered by mighty rivers or on         constructive system is based on the ease of limestone
vast plains. But the Mediterranean people had to            blocks to fragment in angular and flat pieces, easy to
struggle for every inch of ground to sow their seeds,       pile up and very steady once piled. Walls can be made
clearing the surface of stones, terracing the steep         of stones as well as primitive tiles.
slopes, or carrying back to the terraces the little earth
that had slipped to the bottom of the ravines, and          But although the walls admit a certain sloping, the
utilising every source of water available to water the      problem to close convex enclosures must be solved
grapevines, the olive, the almond and the fig trees. It     by means of wooden beams. The great structural
was in this poor but well used space where one of the       discovery was the horizontal covering by means of
greater structural revolutions took place.                  the stone advance. The result has been called false
                                                            vault, or false dome, as it could have been called falsely
There were few woods and the little wood of use for         lintelled. All of them are negative terms that in a certain
the construction, such as that of pine trees, was as        way reveal that language apostatises regrets of a great
valuable as a treasure, though the climate made it          cultural contribution. The English people refer to
prone to fire and rotting.                                  “corbelled” in a positive way, although they rarely used
                                                            this type of construction, which should be called
Reeds are good as planking and are more resistant,          “advanced course domes”.
and the adobe and the earth building provided stability
and protection. Some types of impermeable clay are          We are not talking about megalithic monuments, made
good as layers on the reed covers and, on occasions,        of great granite or sandstone blocks such as the Cave
an incomplete firing provides rudimentary tiles not         of Menga, the Temple at Stonehenge or the Minorca’s
much better than mud walls.                                 Taulas. We are talking about structures mostly made

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 1.1. Schematic section of the Cave of El Romeral, in Antequera (Escrig).

of rough stone pieces light enough to be moved without             Minorca has impressive megalithic vaults in
the help of great tools, that is to say rubble work.               constructions reaching two floors, as Naveta del
Near Menga, in Antequera, is the Cave of El Romeral,               Tudons (Figs. 1.8 and 1.9), that does not have a wholly
one of the most perfect constructions of advanced                  rounded cover because its constructors just let the
course domes. Dating approximately from 4500 years                 walls tilt inwards, shortening the span of the closing
ago it is a burial mound. Its central room is 5.20 m in            stones. This happened about 1500 BC, a thousand
diameter and 3.9 m high. The headstone consists of a               years after El Romeral; the Mediterranean zone
stone of great size very like other archaic works, and             abounds in this type of construction dating from the
the whole construction, that is completed with an                  same time. At Los Millares (Fig. 1.10), at Ontiveros,
access corridor and a smaller chamber, is covered by               Matarrubilla or La Pastora (Fig. 1.11) in the El Aljarafe
a mound of earth which has helped to preserve it in                zone in Seville, as well as in the South of France, in
perfect condition. Fig. 1.1 shows a general view of the            the Mediterranean Italian islands, and in general in
monument, whereas Fig. 1.2 shows a sectional view                  every country under the “calcareous curse”, this system
in its present state. The pictures of Fig. 1.3 to 1.6 give         has remained until today.
an idea of the perfection of the bond that has recently
been partially restored. Many are the domes made                   Nevertheless, about 1350 BC, this technique was
from this model scattered all over Europe as proof of              developed in the Peloponnesus to such an extent that
the capacity of navigators, explorers and soldiers to              perfect domes of advanced courses could be built.
spread culture and techniques. In Portugal there are               The Treasure of Atreo had the greatest dome ever
vast number of tombs with corridors made in a simpler              constructed until it was surpassed by Agrippa’s
way with great slabs (Fig. 1.7).                                   Pantheon a thousand years later. The Treasure of Atreo,

Fig. 1.2. Plan and section of the Cave of El Romeral, in Antequera (Mata Carriazo).

                                                                                                       Stones Resting on Empty Space

Fig. 1.3. Corridor of access to the Cave of El Romeral, in Antequera   Fig. 1.5. Stone disposition of the main chamber of the Cave of El
(Escrig).                                                              Romeral, in Antequera (Escrig).

Fig. 1.4. Door of access to the main chamber of the Cave of El         Fig. 1.6. Access to the second chamber of the Cave of El Romeral,
Romeral, in Antequera (Escrig).                                        and covering slab (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 1.7. Domed tombs sketches from Portugal (Fletcher).

                                                                   Fig. 1.11. Cave of Ontiveros, in Valencina near Seville (Escrig).

Fig. 1.8. Outer view of Naveta dels Tudons, in Minorca (Salvat).

                                                                   also named Agamemnon’s Tomb, in Mycenae, is a
                                                                   circular enclosure 14.6 m in diameter and 13.5 m high.
                                                                   Its access through a brief covered gallery and a
                                                                   passage between embankments, lends it a moving
                                                                   magnificence. The cross section is almost parabolic
                                                                   although its pointing in the headstone reveals an
                                                                   attempt to improve its stability as if it was an ogival
                                                                   profile (Fig.1.12). The vault is made of carved stones
                                                                   of almost one tonne in a perfect bond that reveals
Fig. 1.9. Inner view of Naveta dels Tudons, in Minorca (Salvat).   either a great command of stereotomy techniques or
                                                                   a later carving of its inner part to level its surface and
                                                                   to get it decorated (Fig. 1.13). The curved lintel and
                                                                   the discharging arch prove a good knowledge of building
                                                                   problems (Fig. 1.14). The covering mound of earth
                                                                   makes it stable and probably served to contain the
                                                                   ramps along which the stones were lifted (Fig. 1.15).

                                                                   At this point one has to wonder what was the static
                                                                   working of this system of stones bonding over empty
                                                                   space and why, though being structurally correct, it
                                                                   was not included in the later cultured architecture, even
                                                                   more since this system was not surpassed by any
                                                                   other made up of stones until the French Romanesque

                                                                   In Ref. 26 Syrmakezis analyses some recent Greek
                                                                   constructions and makes a detailed exposition of its
                                                                   balance. For a linear construction with prismatic blocks
Fig. 1.10a and b. Tholos of Los Millares in Almeria.               see (Fig. 1.16), and the following equations:

                                                                                                                Stones Resting on Empty Space

Fig. 1.12. Schematic detail from the Treasure of Atreo, in Mycenae (Escrig).


                                                                      ∑ W (a
                                                                      i =1
                                                                             i   v +1   − βi) ≤ 0                                      [1.1]

                                                                                       bi                                              [1.2]
                                                                      β i = ai +

                                                                                 ∑β W
                                                                                  i =1
                                                                                            i       i                                  [1.3]
                                                                      a v +1 =        v

                                                                                    i =1

                                                                                                        bv +1                          [1.4]
                                                                      β v +1 = a v +1 +
Fig. 1.13. Detail of the access to the main chamber of the Treasure                                      2
of Atreo, including the lintel and the discharging arch.
                                                                                 1 v
                                                                      av+1 =       ∑ βi
                                                                                 v i =1

                                                                      This does not depend on the height of blocks (Figs.
                                                                      1.17 and 1.18). In this case all the stones are identical.

Fig. 1.14. Stone bound of the dome of the Treasure of Atreo, in       Fig. 1.15. Entrance and covering mound of the Treasure of
Mycenae (Escrig).                                                     Atreo (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 1.16. Balance scheme of the prismatic blocks projection

av +1 − av =                                                        [1.6]

         b                               b                 b
a2 − a1 = ,                  a3 − a2 =     ,   a4 − a3 =            [1.7]
         2                               4                 6

In case we considered decreasing rows instead
straight rows, being d and and hi constant (Fig. 1.19),
the formula becomes                                                         Figs. 1.17 and 1.18. Independence of the projection with
                                                                            regards to the thickness of the pieces, for the projections

                 ∑a d
                 i =1
                         i       i
                                                                            balance analysis (Syrmakezis).
a v +1 =     +      v                                               [1.8]
                  i =1

d i = d + i ⋅ Δd                                                    [1.9]

                                 v         v
                        d ∑ ai + Δd ∑ iai
           b                                                       [1.10]
a v +1 =     + 2 ⋅ i =1        i =1

           2      2vd + v (v + 1) Δd

Which means that in case

d1 = Δd ,..., d 2 = 2Δd ,....

           b            i    ∑ ia
av +1 =      + 2 ⋅ i =1                                            [1.11]
           2      v(v + 1)
Which leads to

a v +1 − a v =                                                     [1.12]

Meaning that

         b                                b                    b
a2 − a1 = ,                      a3 − a2 = ,     a4 − a3 =         [1.13]
         2                                3                    4

If as it happens in many mounds, the courses have a
back counterweight made of earth or rubble (Fig. 1.20)                      Fig. 1.19. Scheme of the projection with a decreasing number
the formulas [1.1] to [1.5] become                                          of blocks (Syrmakezis).

                                                                                                                              Stones Resting on Empty Space

Fig. 1.20. Balance of projections made of isolated blocks, balanced             Fig. 1.21. Scheme for the study of the balance of circular shaped
with a rear load (Syrmakezis).                                                  decreasing stone courses (Syrmakezis).

 v                                                         v

∑ W (a
i =1
           i           v +1 − β i ) + ∑ W ' i ( a v +1 − β ' i ) ≤ 0
                                                       i =1
                                                                       [1.14]   If we counted on the existence of the back
Wi = y ⋅ bi d i hi
                                                                                                  v                     v

W 'i = yπ ⋅ d i hi (av + bv − ai − bi )                                [1.16]               1
                                                                                                 ∑ β W +∑ β
                                                                                                          i    i                  i   ' Wi '
                                                                                rv +1   =        i =1                  i =1                          [1.23]
                                                                                          cosϕ           v

                                                     bi                                                 ∑ (W + W ′ )
                                                                                                                   i          i
β      i       =        a     i       +                                [1.17]                           i =1
                                                                                       2 senϕ R' i2 + R' i r' i + r' i2
                                                                                β i' =                                                               [1.24]
                   v                           v
                                                                                       3 ϕ           Ri ' + r' i
               ∑β W +∑β ' W'
                          i       i                        i       i
av+1 = i=1                                    i =1                     [1.18]   Wi = yπ ϕ ( Ri′ 2 + ri ′ 2 ) hi                                      [1.25]

                        ∑(W +W′ )
                         i =1
                                          i            i                        Being
                                                                                ri ′ = ri + bi                                                       [1.26]
Which being                           b i = b becomes
                                                                                Ri′ = rv + bv                                                        [1.27]
                       v (a v + b) 2 − ∑ ai2                           [1.19]
               1                                            i =1
a v +1 =                                                    v
                        v ( a v + b) − ∑ a i                                    If we knew therefore the size of every stone that makes
                                                           i =1
                                                                                up the thirty-three advanced courses, its density and
                                                                                the density and height of the filling material we would
If starting from this premise, we wanted to face the                            directly obtain from the previous expressions the
real problem of the Treasure of Atreo (Fig. 1.21) without                       optimal profile of the vault.
taking into account the stabilising earth weight.
                                                                                In Ref. 25 Symakezis has developed a calculation
                                                                                program that from the previous parameters and
                                                                                including the stones resistance to flexo-compression

                                  ∑β W
                                  i =1
                                                   i       i
                                                                                and to cutting effort, allows us to develop the stable
                                                                                profile considering the static and structural stability,
rv +1      =                                                           [1.20]   though the table only reaches a height of 4 m and a
             cosϕ                     v

                                      i =1
                                                                                span of 5 m, as is shown in Fig. 1.22, where the stable
                                                                                profiles appear in shade.

                                                                                If we consider that the voussoirs are carved in a wedge
     2 senϕ Ri2 + Ri ri + ri 2
βi =                                                                   [1.21]   shape and therefore the problem of the flexion or the
     3 ϕ        Ri + ri                                                         cutting one are of no importance, we will be able to
                                                                                change the scale to fit the size of the Treasure of Atreo,
                                                                                locating its profile in the zone of suggested stability of
Wi = yϕ hi ( Ri2 + ri 2 )                                              [1.22]   Fig. 1.23.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 1.22. Calculation of the stable profiles for domes of projected
stones (Syrmakezis).

                                                                       Fig. 1.25.a and b. Different outer views of a present Cretan
                                                                       dome (Syrmakezis).

Fig. 1.23. Scheme or the stability zone and the profile position of
the Treasure of Atreo (Escrig).

Fig. 1.24. Analysis of present Cretan constructions. Typical section

Syrmakezis has analysed Cretan constructions dating
from the beginning of the XXth century, which are
infinitely more modest and made of rough stones fitting
also the profiles in the mentioned stable limits                       Fig. 1.25.c and d. Different inner views of a present Cretan
(Fig. 1.24).                                                           dome (Syrmakezis).

                                                                                                 Stones Resting on Empty Space

Fig. 1.26. Different types of shepherd huts from the Levantine Maestrazgo, in Castellon. (García Lisón)

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 1.27a, b, c, d and e. Different views of some shepherd huts in Castellón (Escrig).

                                                                                                      Stones Resting on Empty Space

Fig. 1.28a, b and c. Different views of the inner stone disposition of some shepherd huts (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 1.29a and b. Present views of the Italian Trulli.

                                                                                             Stones Resting on Empty Space

Fig. 1.29c. General view of Alberobello.

Fig. 1.30. The Trulli as a tourist attraction, in Alberobello.

Fig. 1.25 shows different building aspects wherein even          a)   Admits stones without carving.
the superposed lintels in substitution of the discharging        b)   Construction without need for a temporary support.
arches can be seen.                                              c)   No need for horizontal thrust.
                                                                 d)   Neither flexion nor cracking zones.
The disappearance of this structural type that has               e)   Possibility of openings in the surface without
countless advantages seems inexplicable:                              altering its tensional state.

The Great Structures in Architecture


                                                              Fig. 1.34a. Group of Bories in Sarlat, in the French region of
                                                              Perigord (Escrig).

                                              COMPOSED FORM

Fig. 1.31. Evolution of the Trulli (Vernice).

                                                              Fig. 1.34b. Inner aspect of a Borie, a stone cabin, in Sarlat (Escrig).

Fig. 1.32. Stonehenge aereal view in Salisbury in England.

Fig. 1.33. Oratory of Gallarus, in Ireland.                   Fig. 1.35a. and 1.35b. Recent project to build a Borie (Escrig).

                                                                                             Stones Resting on Empty Space

Its hypothetical disadvantages, such as too much
thickness and weight and its high camber, do not seem
enough reasons to think of it as obsolescent, even
more considering that in the Treasure we find the first
pointed arch, preceding the exquisite medieval works.
The main thing is that in the time of maximum
splendour of their culture, Greek people, though having
to hand these examples, possibly by the hundreds,
preferred a much more primitive system with column
and lintel or strut and brace, whose vegetal precedents
they did not try to hide. Fortunately for the advanced
courses domes, the Mediterranean Hellenization
hardly reached a few kilometres from the coast and in
the interior of the countries, where the only fruit to be
harvested from the ground consisted of stones, the
shepherds and the farmers of those dry places kept
the tradition.

The Levantine Maestrazgo has examples and
craftsmen who still follow that system. Ref. 14 shows
a wide analysis of its different types and its usefulness
(Fig. 1.26). Fig 1.27 shows some examples, that have
extremely disordered bonds (Fig. 1.28).

In Apulia, beside the Adriatic sea, in the town of
Alberobello the so-called Trulli (Fig. 1.29) are still built
                                                               Fig. 1.36a and b. House in La Mancha in Spain. Outer and inner
and have become one of the main tourist attractions            view (Jarque).
of the place. According to legend, the principal reason
for this way of building was the necessity to evade the
tax on houses. When the collector appeared in the
town he only found rubble piles for which, evidently,
he could not demand payment. No sooner did he
disappear than the stones were return to their original
place since these vaults could practically be taken
apart, so that a construction of a four metres span
could be rebuilt in two or three days at the most by a
pair of workers. Apart from this suggested explanation,
we are again talking about pointed profiles stable
enough to resist an earth tremor: in any case, easy to
rebuild. Ref. 31 deals in more detail with this interesting
type of very flat limestone stones whose schematic
evolution can be seen in Fig. 1.31.

Now we are going to spend more time in every
geographic spot where these limestone eggs have
grown. But we cannot forget that the British Isles,
paradoxically involved in the commerce of tin since
early times, have clear examples that share the
territory with the great megalithic monuments of
Stonehenge and Avebury in England, Yvias in France
(Fig. 1.32), and New Grange, Dowth and Knouth, in              Fig. 1.37a and b. Terraced houses in Menorca in Spain. Outher
Ireland, between 2500 and 1700 BC.                             and inner view (Jarque).

The medieval Irish monks had built vaults with                 in some cases have a kind of mezzanine and windows
protruding stone profiles since the 7th century as, for        of a certain complexity. The attempts to reproduce
instance, in the Gallarus oratory, in Dingle (Fig. 1.33).      the technique today have not been too satisfactory
                                                               (Fig. 1.35).
In the centre of France constructions exist very
similar to the Trulli, called Bories, that can be added        Better constructions can be found nowadays, such
to the long list previously mentioned. In Salat can be         as those in La Mancha (Spain), with more regular
found the very well made Breuil cabins (Fig. 1.34) that        courses and using mud as a settling element, which

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 1.38. Beehive house in Syria. Plan of the whole building.

                                                                 Fig. 1.41. Etruscan tomb in Montagnola. General view, section
                                                                 and plan.

                                                                 gives them more stiffness (Fig. 1.35). In Minorca,
                                                                 ziggurat-like terraced constructions of great beauty
                                                                 are presently used (Fig. 1.36), whereas in Provence
                                                                 constructions of a large size and perfect carving are
                                                                 still being built (Fig. 1.37).

                                                                 In the Middle East too, though almost solely in Syria,
                                                                 the so-called Beehive Houses that are based on the
                                                                 same principles but made of bricks are still built [Ref.
Fig. 1.39. Beehive house in Syria. Section of a dome.            20 ]. They gather in similar units of repetitive shape,
                                                                 forming houses with interior courtyards packed with
                                                                 various rooms (Fig. 1.38). Each dome rests on a square
                                                                 base (sometimes round) of brick or stone whose inner
                                                                 dimensions go up to 5 x 5 m. The 80 cm thick walls
                                                                 support the staggered brick dome that rises up to an
                                                                 inner height of 3.5 to 4.5 m (Fig. 1.39). When the piece
                                                                 is rectangular it is divided by means of a central arch
                                                                 that allows the support of a pair of domes. A great
                                                                 construction uses four to five thousand bricks of 25 x
                                                                 46 x 7 cm and a team of workers spends about 10 to
                                                                 15 days in its building.

                                                                 With this list of places it is not the intention to exhaust
                                                                 the subject, which is impossible anyway, since there
                                                                 is little published about it, due to researchers’ lack of
                                                                 interest. A last question before ending: why the powerful
                                                                 ensuing civilisations went for less efficient systems?
                                                                 The Egyptians, great stone builders, used advanced
                                                                 courses arches that ran along covering narrow
                                                                 corridors. The Babylonian empires went for mud, which
                                                                 they had in abundance, the Greeks had more aesthetic
                                                                 than technical sensitivity and the Romans discovered
Fig. 1.40. Etruscan tomb in Casale Maritimo. Inner view of the   the voussoirs dome, considering it a pattern suitable
disposition and the symbolic central support (Ortega).           enough to tirelessly repeat it.

                                                                   Stones Resting on Empty Space

Fig. 1.42. Etruscan tumuli in Cervetery.

Fig. 1.43. General view of the temple of Bruvanesvar (Schlaich).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                 imposing inner support of symbolic character since it
                                                                 did not have any influence on the structure.
                                                                 Other later important cultures, such as the South
                                                                 Asians in their pagodas and stupas and the Aztec in
                                                                 their temples, put into practice part of the principles of
                                                                 the protruding stones.

                                                                 Indian constructions are also built according to the
                                                                 advanced courses vaulting principle, achieving such
                                                                 spectacular results that it is not easy to choose a
                                                                 single example. Fig. 1.43 shows an impressive pic-
                                                                 ture of the temple of Bhruvanesvar, whereas in Fig.
                                                                 1.44 its elevation and sections can be seen. Fig. 1.45
                                                                 shows a 19th century picture of the town of Varanasi.
                                                                 The thorough examination of the resistence principles
                                                                 of temples and stupas goes beyond the goals set by
                                                                 the author, however tempting that task could be.

                                                                 Crocci (Ref. 10), mainly because of his work as a
                                                                 restorer, is the author who has most studied these
                                                                 types of monuments from the structural viewpoint, find-
                                                                 ing that most of the problems arise from floor shifting,
                                                                 which causes wall leaning (Fig. 1.46).

                                                                 Besides, this fact leads to an increase of the shear
                                                                 stresses in the horizontal contact surface between
                                                                 the blocks (Fig. 1.47).

Fig. 1.44. Elevation and sections of the temple of Bruvanesvar

                                                                 Fig. 1.46. Effects of the outward rotation of the base in a corbelled
                                                                 arch (Croci).

Fig. 1.45. Picture of 19th Century of the city of Varanasi.

Only their predecessors, the Etruscans, made an
attempt to connect with tradition, in some tombs like
the Tholos of Casale Maritimo (Fig. 1.40), the
Montagnola tomb (Fig. 1.41) from 600 BC, or the burial           Fig. 1.47. Variation of the shear forces in a corbelled arch due to
mounds of Cervetery (Fig. 1.42), all of them with an             rotation of the base (Croci).

                                                                                                    Stones Resting on Empty Space

This last consequence forces Crocci to use strong
metallic elements (Fig. 1.48), since he considers the
structure working as Fig. 1.49 shows in a simplified

Nevertheless, even though the Fig. 1. 50 reinforcement
seems suitable, it is a contradiction in structural terms
that affects the system concept.

The more precise analysis of a tholos in Sardinia (Ref.
25), carried out by Roberti and Spina using the Finite
Element Method, considers the following elements:

                                                                    Fig. 1.51. A bird´s eye view of the Nuraghe Santu Antine (Roberti
                                                                    and Spina).

Fig. 1.48. Possible layout of transversal chains and tie-bars to
strengthen a tower (Croci).

                                                                    Fig. 1.52. Velocity vectors and contact closures at collapse for
                                                                    the dome built without backfill.

Fig. 1.49. Stresses in a corbelled dry block tower (Croci).

                                                                    (i) independent blocks, (ii) deformable contacts and
                                                                    (iii) an explicit time-domain solution of the original
                                                                    equations of motion. In the tholos considered, the
                                                                    Nuraghe Santu Antine in Sardinia (Fig. 1.51), it has
                                                                    been used as a method that considers the fabric sta-
                                                                    bility as a rigid solid.

                                                                    If we took a nostalgic glance at so many techniques
                                                                    that were lost by ignorance or intellectual imposition
                                                                    we would find in the advanced courses domes a non-
                                                                    recoverable example. Today it would not make any
                                                                    sense using materially economic but labour intensive
                                                                    systems. Maybe other cultures thought something
                                                                    alike. But knowledge is a great pleasure that may have
Fig. 1.50. Possible function of the iron beams in the Sury temple   in those cupolas an exotic ingredient unknown by most
(Croci).                                                            people.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                             REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 1

1. BLANCO FREIJEIRO, A. “Arte Antiguo del Asia           18.JARQUE, F. “L´habitatge temporal. L´ome i la
   Anterior”. Sevilla, Universidad, 1975.                   pedra 2.” Universidad de Valencia, 2004.
2. BLANCO FREIJEIRO, A. “Arte Griego”. Madrid,           19.MATA CARRIAZO, J. “Arquitectura Prehistórica”.
   C.S.I.C., 1984.                                          Cartillas de Arquitectura Española I, Madrid,
3. BOËTHIUS, A. “Etruscan and Early Roman Ar                1929.
   chitecture”. Yale University Press, USA, 1994.        20.LLOYD, S. & MULLER, H.W. “Arquitectura de
4. CARRIAZO, J. de la M. “Arquitecture                      los orígenes”. Madrid, Aguilar, 1980.
   Prehistórica”. Cartillas de Arquitectura Española,    21.ORTEGA ANDRADE, F. “Historias de la
   Madrid, 1929.                                            Construcción. Mesopotamia, Egipto, Grecia y
5. CHASSAGNOUX, A. “Persian vaulted                         Etruria. Libro Primero”. Publicaciones de la
   Architecture: Morphology and equilibrium of vaults       Universidad de Las Palmas, 1993.
   under static and dynamic loads”. Structural           22.PIJOAN, J. “Historia del Arte”. Tomo I. Ed. Salvat,
   Studies of Historical Buildings IV. Computational        1974.
   Mechanics Pub, Southampton, 1995.                     23.RENFREW, C. “Arqueología social de los
6. COLL, G., GONZÁLEZ, R., HOLTZMAN, B. “El                 monumentos megalíticos”, Investigación y
   gran arte de la Arquitectura. Roma”.                     Ciencia, 88 (Enero, 1984), pp. 70-79.
7. CONANT, K.J. “Arquitectura Carolingia y               24.RIBA, D. & MOULIN, J. “El enigma de los primeros
   Románica. 800-1200”. Manuales Arte Cátedra,              constructores”. Barcelona, Libroexpres, 1981.
   Madrid, 1982.                                         25.ROBERTI, M.G. & SPINA,O. “Discrete element
8. CORZO SANCHEZ, R. “La antigüedad. Historia               analysis on the Sardinian Nuraghe” Historical
   del Arte en Andalucía”. T. I. Sevilla, Gever, 1989.      Constructions 2001.Guimaraes.Universidad of
9. CHILDE, G. “Los orígenes de la civilización”.            Minho. Portugal, 2001, pp.719-727.
   México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1954.             26.SYRMAKEZIS, C. “Domes in Creta”. Museo
10.CROCI,G.”The conservation and structural                 Cretense de Etnología, 1988 (in Greek).
   Restoration of Architectural Heritage”. WIT Press,    27.SOUZA GOIS, M.I. “Cúpulas de Tierra”. Master
   1998.                                                    Thesis ETSA de Sevilla. Prof. Escrig, 1995. Not
11.DANIEL, G. “Conjuntos megalíticos”, en                   published.
   Investigación y Ciencia, 48 (Septiembre, 1980),       28.STIERLIN, H. “Encyclopedia of World
   pp. 42-52.                                               Architecture”. Taschen, 1977.
12.ESCRIG, F. “Domes and Towers in Architecture”.        29.TRACHTENBERG, M. & HYMAN, I. “Arquitectura.
   Computational Mechanics Pub, Southampton,                De la Prehistoria a la Modernidad”. Akal, Arte y
   1998.                                                    Ciencia, 1990.
13.FLETCHER’S, B. “A history of Architecture”.           30.VELAZQUEZ BOSCO, R. “Cámaras sepulcrales
   Butterworths. 19 ed., London, 1987.                      descubiertas en término de Antequera”. Revista
14.GARCIA LISON, M., ZARAGOZA CATALAN, A.                   de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos, n1 9. 1905.
   “Arquitectura Rural primitiva en Sec”. Temes          31.VERNICE, B. “Los Trulli”. Primer Congreso de
   d’Etnografía Valenciana. Institut Alfons el              Historia de la Construcción, Madrid, 1996, pp.
   Magnanim, 1982.                                          515-523.
15.GIMENEZ REINA, S. “Los Dólmenes de
   Antequera”. Biblioteca Antequera. Caja de Ahorros
   de Antequera, 1974.
16.GUIDONI, E. “Arquitectura primitiva”. Madrid,
   Aguilar, 1980.
17.HEINLE, E. & LEONHART, F. “ Tours du monde
   entiere” Livre Total, 1989.

                                                                                                        The Invention of the Dome

                                                                  Chapter 2. THE INVENTION OF THE DOME

Without doubt, the invention of the arch, according to                 support. For instance, in Fig. 2.2 can be seen a small
the remains found in excavations, must be attributed                   brick covering at Tell al Rimah (2100 BC), in which
to any of the civilisations that developed in the Middle               one brick supports the following one with the aim of
East. There the earth has no end and dust and mud                      saving the construction of shoring. The same system,
are the only materials that separate men from floods                   though better organised, was used in the Khosabad
and that can lift them up closer to the sky. Mud and                   sewers (Fig. 2.3). But vaults are linear elements, in a
bushes are the only available materials to make the                    certain way a prolongation of arches, which were known
trousseau or the former means of writing and to build                  by all the civilisations.
houses, palaces and fortifications.
                                                                       Curiously enough, whereas in false vaults and arches
The arch became the only feasible form for covering                    a pointed shape is required, in true vaults and arches
the empty space between two walls with a soft                          the semicircular shape is chosen from the beginning,
material, and it was profusely used as an alternative                  which shows that the passage from the former to the
to palm tree trunk beams or plaited reed beams.                        latter is obligatory in the search of more harmonious
Physically constructed arches can be found in                          geometries.
Khorsabad, in the Palace of Sargon (722 BC) or in
Niniva (Fig. 2.1). From the arch to the vault there is                 The Greeks in Olympia (Fig. 2.4) and the Etruscans
only the requirement of a bigger framework, which could                in Volterra (Fig. 2.5) showed a skill in accurate stone
not be an obstacle in great works, such as that of a                   carving that, if not surprising, is solid proof of a buil-
palace, but certainly was a problem in more popular                    ding maturity.
ones, as in expensive civil works. That is why, in
addition to the building techniques, of the vaults other               In contrast, none of them shows clear proof of the use
examples can be found not requiring provisional                        of domes, that is to say the revolutionary new form.

Fig. 2.1a. Ishstar gate of the Palace of Niniva in Babylon. Previous   Fig. 2.1b. Ishtar gate of the Palace of Niniva in Babylon.
state.                                                                 Reconstruction.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 2.1b. Ishtar gate of the Palace of Niniva in Babylon.
reconstructive system.

                                                             Fig. 2.5 Etruscan door in Volterra.

Fig. 2.2. Brick dome in Tell al Rimah.

Fig. 2.3. Drain under Palace Plattform in Khorsabad.

                                                             Fig. 2.6. Relief from Ninive, wherein a domed village can be seen

                                                             Fletcher (Ref. 6) shows in his book a relief reproduction
                                                             found in Niniva, dating from 700 BC, suggesting that
                                                             some houses could have been covered with small
                                                             domes (Fig. 2.6); Schlaich (Ref. 20) shows a picture
                                                             of this relief, but no excavation results lead us to that
                                                             conclusion, among other things because the tight mesh
                                                             of irregular reticules that formed towns did not go well
Fig. 2.4 Access to a theatre in Olympia.                     with central covers and, either in Egypt as in Babylon,

                                                                                                           The Invention of the Dome

Fig. 2.7. Earth block domes village near Alepo in Syria (Minke).

                                                                   Fig. 2.9. Stabianas Thermae in Pompeii (García Bellido).

Fig. 2.8. Earth block domes in Siestan, Afghanistan (Minke).

to get protection against floods it was necessary to
compact the neighbourhoods and to close the streets
with doors or lift them up on platforms. Otherwise, the
dome has a problem in comparison with the vault: the
wearing of a piece leads to the total collapse, which
does not happen in the case of longitudinal forms.
Therefore, it is difficult to deduct whether vaults have
an Eastern origin or not. Anyway, there is no doubt                Fig. 2.10. Forum Thermae in Pompeii (García Bellido).
that the first dated vaults belong to the Roman
Republic. We find them as parts of thermal buildings,
following very normalised models. That is the case of
domed Frigidarium, vaulted Tepidarium and mixed up

Present images of Middle Eastern villages are decep-
tive, since they may look as of ancient vernacular ar-
chitecture, very similar to that seen in Fig. 2.6. Figs.
2.7 and 2.8 show primitive looking images, all of them
subsequent to the 4th century AD, when Romans had
already exported those geometries.

Dating from the second century BC we can mention
the Stabianas thermae (Fig. 2.9) or the Forum ones
(Fig. 2.10), both in Pompeii, which dating does not                Fig. 2.11. Sketch of the initial planning of the Roman domes (Escrig).
give rise to any doubt since it was not possible to
make later reforms. In Pompeii there was another group             These vaults have a very stable structural behaviour
of thermal baths, the Central one, of which we do not              because they are firmly supported by heavy walls and
know the layout.                                                   their thickness diminishes as it gradually approaches
                                                                   the headstone, which receives all the weight. Although
The model of thermal vaults must have been set long                this constructive system is not the optimum, because
before and it practically consists of a hemisphere sitting         of the need of a complete formwork, it has evident
on a cylindrical drum having the same height and                   advantages. In the first place it is monolithic, since it
radius. The ventilation and the illumination take place            is based on a pozzolana concrete, resistant and light.
through the oculo of the headstone and the                         In addition, it is compatible with the introduction of
implantation on an orthogonal reticule is done by                  brick strips. In principle there are no limitations for the
means of niches in the corners (Fig. 2.11).                        space to cover. The inferior hemispheric form and the

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                PANTHEON DOME

                                           Complete dome
                                           Dome with oculo

Fig. 2.12. Funicular working of the semicircular domes, with and   Fig. 2.13. Shrine of Hoessn Soleiman in Syria (García Bellido).
without oculo.

outer cap allow the inclusion of a parabola of pressures           on the intersection of four cylinders on an orthogonal
that makes it work specially well. Fig. 2.12 shows a               plan, following a model that, otherwise, is identical to
drawing of the loads funicular within the section where            the hemispheric one, but for the niches in the corners
it can be seen that this line does not exceed the third            (Fig. 2.14b).
of the section, that being the reason why it does not
cause flexions.                                                    The modernity of the plan is characteristic of some of
                                                                   our contemporary architects (Fig. 2.15). Thickness has
When talking about the Pompeii thermae we must                     been reduced to the minimum thanks to the
also mention that the caldarium had a mixed form,                  counteracting barrel vaults. In fact, the system of
that is to say, a cylindrical vault ending in a quarter of         illumination through the ceiling of the contiguous
a sphere that in the case of the Forum thermae even                pieces is impressive and its inner aspect, so regular
had a lateral perforation. Here the vault concept has              and with no marble or decoration, shows a geometric
disappeared, being replaced by a form very usual at                purity only common in maturity. The flat arches, the
the back of Forums and Temples, whose stability is                 horizontal courses that advance towards the empty
based on a powerful frontal diaphragm plate (Fig. 2.13).           space and a penetration through the big hollows that
                                                                   occupy 75% of the walls surface look as if the globes
This demonstrates that whether or not its inventors,               are floating in the air rather than a vault (Fig. 2.16).
the Romans, were first in dicovering the characteristics
of the system, that they used and could afford to                  In contrast, the Domus Augusta (92 AD) constructed
transform it at will.                                              also with an octagonal plan in the days of Domitian
                                                                   and measuring 10 m in diameter, is of a smaller and in
But the discovery and use of the vault are but the first           a certain way more primitive complexity, although its
step in benefiting from its great potential, not to mention        building does not force the rooms to spin diagonally
the numerous examples that confirm small advances.                 and, therefore, leaves less residual space. But an
                                                                   important contribution that still has not appeared in
Let us have a look at the Domus Aurea vault (70 AD)                the previous examples consists of the arches
of 13 m diameter (Fig. 2.14a). The first problem that              discharging on lintels and on the surfaces where weight
must be solved is how to fit it in a perfectly orthogonal          is wanted to be transferred to the buttresses (Figs.
mesh without wasting space. The solution consists                  2.17 and 2.18).

                                                                                                       The Invention of the Dome

                                                                   Fig. 2.14b. Plan of the Domus Aurea (Ward Perkins).

Fig. 2.14a. Scheme of the dome of the Domus Aurea (Escrig).

Fig. 2.15 Section of the Domus Aurea, showing its ceiling illumination system (Ward Perkins).

Fig. 2.16. Inner view of the Domus Aurea.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                   Between 115 and 130 AD, Adriano, an emperor of
                                                                   oriental mentality whose arguments with Trajano’s, his
                                                                   mentor architect, are well known because this
                                                                   Apolodoro was a rationalist of its time, built the
                                                                   Pantheon, or rather rebuilt it on a previous building
                                                                   made by Agrippa. The Pantheon is a way to take to
                                                                   the limit the thermal vault in its simpler but at the same
                                                                   time more sophisticated state (Fig. 2.19).

                                                                   It is simple because it is supported by a perfectly
                                                                   circular drum with a cap able to keep within a complete
                                                                   sphere and responds to the first model found in
                                                                   Pompeii. It is sophisticated because it is able to
                                                                   set up directionality by means of a hierarchy of hollows
                                                                   and cornices of complexity. The system of curved
                                                                   lintels and three-dimensional arches not only did not
                                                                   have any precedent but, in addition, that the
                                                                   constructive system used to cover a 43.3 m inner
                                                                   diameter and a similar height reveals an inventiveness
Fig. 2.17. Perspective of the Domus Augusta (Ward Perkins).
                                                                   that has never been used again. The vault is really
                                                                   made up of a spatial lattice that is camouflaged
                                                                   as a reticular coffered ceiling. Besides, walls and
                                                                   caps transmit the action by means of discharging
                                                                   arches superimposed (Fig. 2.20), everything being
                                                                   finally gathered with a concrete layer (Ref. 16).

                                                                   So much has been written on this building that it is
                                                                   a redundancy to expand on the matter. In our opinion
                                                                   it is a point of inflection, according to our arguments,
                                                                   in the Roman constructive technique in several

                                                                   a) It demonstrates that the vault has a potential to
                                                                      cover wide spaces that do not have other types of
                                                                   b) It creates an eastward tendency to the detriment
                                                                      of the Greek one.
                                                                   c) Concern for the constructive procedure
                                                                      predominates over the formal one, which at last is
                                                                      a result of the former.
Fig. 2.18. Section and plan of the Domus Augusta (Ward Perkins).
                                                                   d) It gives way to new architectonic types.
                                                                   e) It turns height and ceiling illumination into a new
                                                                      spatial value.

                                                                   Apart from that, each one of the vaults constructed in
                                                                   the days of Adriano meant a step ahead with respect
                                                                   to the previous ones. In the Leptis Magna (Libia)
                                                                   thermal building several substantial new features are
                                                                   introduced of which an architectonic ornament made
                                                                   up of sixteen layers, eight of them cylindrical and the
                                                                   other eight gathering the lunettes of the windows, so
                                                                   that when joining before arriving at the key, become a
                                                                   continuous spherical cap, is not the least important.
                                                                   This permits construction of the optimal formwork (Fig.
                                                                   2.21 and 2.22). The same can be said of Baiae (Fig.

                                                                   The other innovation consists of a line of windows
                                                                   positioned between the drum and the dome that
                                                                   illuminates the interior instead of a central oculo
Fig. 2.19. Scheme of the Pantheon of Agrippa (García Bellido).     and high enough as to overlook the contiguous rooms.

                                                                                                     The Invention of the Dome

             3                       1

                                                                                        Plan and first stage

1 Interior layer LAYER AND COFFERS
1 INTERIOR and coffers
2 Intermediate layer of LAYER and MERIDIANS
2 INTERMEDIATE meridians OF parallels                                                                          4
   Exterior layer made of
3 AND PARALLELS concrete and relieving arches
3 One of the eight supports
5 Brick arches
                 Level of the great cornice

                                                                                    Construction of the dome




                                                                                         7      8
6    Three tiers of relieving arches
7    Meridian ribs made of brick
8    Parallel ribs also in brick
9    Relieving arches
10   Continuous layer of puzolanic concrete           8
11   Buttresses of the dome              7

Fig. 2.20. Scheme of the construction phases of the Pantheon of Agrippa (Ortega).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                 Fig. 2.22. Scheme of the dome of Baiae (García Bellido).

Fig. 2.21. Group of thermal buildings in Leptis Magna in Libya
(García Bellido).

Fig. 2.23 shows a plan of the Horti Sallustiani in Rome,
where the directionality of the 26.3 m in diameter space
has been achieved by enlarging disproportionately the
entrance hollow and by prolonging that of exit, resulting
in the Palladian basilicas that we will see below.

In Adriano’s villa, the emperor gave absolute free rein
to its fantasy and intuition, finding there an enormous
variety of forms and solutions that seem impossible
to remain standing (Fig. 2.24). The most surprising              Fig. 2.23. Nimphaeum of the Horti Salustiani, in Rome (García
are those surrounding Piazza d’Oro.                              Bellido).

                                                                                                                The Invention of the Dome

                                                                        Fig. 2.25b. State of the hall at the end of the XIXth Century.

Fig. 2.24. Piazza d’Oro in the Villa Adriana, in Tivoly.

                                                                        Fig. 2.26a Plan of the main building of the Villa Adriana, in Tivoly.

Fig. 2.25a. Drawing of the hall of Piazza d’Oro in the Villa Adriana,   Fig. 2.26b. Perspective of the main building of the Villa Adriana, in
in Tivoly.                                                              Tivoly.

                                                                        and loses directionality. But the fact of its remaining
The lobed dome over its hall simplifies that of Baiae,                  standing in spite of being supported by eight lunettes
although it maintains the illumination through the key                  is a clear sign of its structural effectiveness (Fig. 2.25).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 2.27a. Bathrooms in the Villa Adriana, in Tivoly. Sections.

                                                                      Fig. 2.27c. Bathrooms in the Villa Adriana, in Tivoly in the actuality.

Fig. 2.27b. Bathrooms in the Villa Adriana, in Tivoly. Plan (García

In the great baths of Tivoli the sequence of hemi cap-                columns balanced by attached dome sectors, as those
groined vault-dome, makes up a real form exhibition.                  later made in Byzantium, was in its moment an
There, it is appreciated as the ordered way to connect                innovation difficult even to think of. And it was still more
the elements of the whole and the independence to                     difficult in the arrangement of the 20 m side square on
perforate the walls with great colonnades rather than                 which was implanted a cramming of vaults and domes
as individual achievements.                                           where even a toric dome could play a main role. If we
                                                                      compared it with the Domus Aurea dome, we could
But it is in the main building of Piazza d’Oro where                  realise the enormous strides made by building
form has not been surpassed until the present time                    techniques in a very short time. Only a century and a
(Fig. 2.26). Here we find a dome that no longer is used               half from the Treasure of Atreo to the Neronian
to cover a circular, not even polygonal, plan. There we               construction, and hardly a half more, to arrive at this
have a winding form that nobody would think capable                   filigree supported by slender columns.
of being covered because of the complexity of its space
and the limited dimension of its buttresses and                       Piazza d’Oro prefigures constructions of wood or steel,
columns of complete permeability. Although nowadays                   but nobody would dare to make it of stone or brick,
a 13 m diameter is not too much, building a dome on                   not even the gothic constructors who knew the static

                                                                                                       The Invention of the Dome

laws and achieved height under the penalty of thick
bundles of columns.

The baths must be considered as a masterpiece also
(Fig. 2.27).

What else can be done after the Tivoli Villa? Lightening
the walls with deep lobes as in the Pergamon
Asklepieion by Antonino, with a 26.5 m diameter (Fig.
2.28). Inventing the true drum as in the temple of
Medical Minerva? (Fig. 2.29)?

Little more, indeed. But if we analysed the constructive
systems, any of these works would contribute                      Fig. 2.29b. State of the Temple of Medical Minerva at the end of
excellent new features. The 250 AD temple of Minerva,             the XVIIIth Century.
with a 24 m diameter and a height of 33 m, is very well
tied with bands of bricks in several threads (Fig. 2.29);
the Diocletian Mausoleum in Spalato has an interesting
construction made exclusively of bricks placed as fish
scales (Fig. 2.30). The Treveris thermae have a hugely
perforated drum, thanks to the perfect relief given by
the brick arches (Fig. 2.31).

                                                                  Fig. 2.29c. Present state of the Temple of Medical Minerva.

Fig. 2.28. Plan of the Askleipeion of Pergamo (García Bellido).

Fig. 2.29a. Outline of the Temple of Medical Minerva (García      Fig. 2.29d. Constructive scheme of the Temple of Medical Minerva
Bellido).                                                         (Drum).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 2.30a Scheme of the dome disposition of the Diocletian
Mausoleum, in Spalato.

Fig. 2.30b. Inner view of the Mausoleum dome (Hébrand).

From that moment, the changes are the consequence
of an alteration in the type of plan. This is due to the
needs of the new Christian cult.

The Saint Constanza Mausoleum has only a 12 m
diameter and a height of 20 m, but it is surrounded by
a permeable gallery through a colonnade that
duplicates the useful diameter (Fig. 2.33). This,
together with the existence of a drum as the one in
Treveris Thermae and even a columned peristyle,
inaugurates a model of central plan only altered by a
crossed access narthex repeated over and over again
(340 AD), as the tomb of the Calventii of hexagonal
plan (Fig. 2.34) or Saint Gideon in Colony, of oval plan      Fig. 2.31. Plan of the Treveris Thermae (a) and present state (b)
(Fig. 2.35).                                                  (García Bellido).

                                                                                                     The Invention of the Dome

                                                              Fig. 2.34a. Plan of Saint Gideon, in Colony (Krautheimer).

Fig. 2.32 Mausoleum of Saint Constance (García Bellido).

                                                              Fig. 2.34b. Primitive state of Saint Gideon, in Colony (Escrig).

Fig. 2.33 Mausoleum of the Calventii (Renaissance Drawing).   Fig. 2.34c. Medieval state of Saint Gideon, in Colony.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                    as in Saint Lorenzo in Milan, now unrecognisable
                                                                    because of its baroque restoration, that formerly must
                                                                    have been covered with a groined vault (Fig. 2.35),
                                                                    balanced by attached domes. The innovation here lies
                                                                    in the fact that the circumvallation gallery has two

                                                                    As is well known, Adriano’s empire was the largest
                                                                    one under a single administration during the whole
                                                                    Roman period and though the western provinces
                                                                    adapted very well to the official architectonic patterns,
                                                                    the eastern ones defined their own types with a vigour.

Fig. 2.35a. Plant of Saint Lorenzo in Milan (Krautheimer).

                                                                    Fig. 2.36. Perspective of the Basilica of the Saints Peter and
                                                                    Marceline and Mausoleum of Saint Elena, in Rome (Krautheimer).

Fig. 2.35b. Original pattern of Saint Lorenzo in Milan (Escrig).

                                                                    Fig. 2.37a. Perspective of the Basilica of Saint Peter and Saint
                                                                    Andrew (Krautheimer).

Fig. 2.35c. Actual state of Saint Lorenzo in Milan (Krautheimer).

Those two examples inspired the Renaissance archi-
tects; mainly the former, that helped Borromini to
settle his Ivo della Sapienza scheme, practically with
the same size.

Other complications appeared when a square                          Fig. 2.37b. Plan of the Basilica of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew
enclosure without octagonal transit was to be covered,              (Krautheimer).

                                                                                                      The Invention of the Dome

A very special example, mainly because of its
symbolical meaning rather than its structural content,
is the 33.7 m diameter Anastasis Rotunda in
Jerusalem, whose shape we know thanks to the 1609
engraving by Callot, copied then from the original
construction still standing. This example would
inspire the construction of the Dome of the Rock, seen
below, with its nerved wood cover (Fig. 2.38) that
introduced great variations, although could not hide
                                                                Fig. 2.39. Saint Minas, in Abu Mira, and Baptistry (Krautheimer).
their basilica or central temple origins.

First, the predominance of stone instead of brick and
the Roman cement.

Second, the complex geometries full of colonnades
that mix straight and curved lines, transepted basilicas,
apsidal endings or diagonally spun spaces.

Precedents can be found in some constructions in
Rome as Saint Peter and Marceline Basilica with its
ending transept and crowned by the Saint Elena
Mausoleum (Fig. 2.36) with a 20 m diameter. Or as
Saint Peter Basilica, combined with the Honorio
Mausoleum and the Saint Andrew Rotunda (Fig. 2.37).

                                                                Fig. 2.40. Saint Philippe Martiryum (Krautheimer).

Fig. 2.38a. Anastasis Rotonda in Jerusalem in 1609 (Callot).
                                                                Fig. 2.41. Qual’at Siman (Krautheimer).

Fig. 2.38b. Anastasis Rotonda in Jerusalem by de Bruyn in the
seventeenth century.                                            Fig. 2.42. Saint Babilas, in Antioquia (Krautheimer).

The Great Structures in Architecture

But no construction involves as much complication                  Sergio Martiryum in Resaffa (Fig. 2.48) and some
as Saint Minas, in Abu Mira at 412, and its Baptistry              churches like those shown in Fig. 2.49. Also, the
(Fig. 2.39), Saint Philippe Martyrium (about 400 AD)               incipient Greek cross plans shown in Fig. 2.50, that
(Fig. 2.40), the 1480 Qual’at Siman (Fig. 2.41), Saint             due to its dating make it possible to know whether
Babilas’ in Antioquia (Fig. 2.42), dating from 379 AD,             they exerted some influence over the Persian
or the innumerable examples that repeat some of the                architecture or else were influenced by it, the latter
models from the metropolis:                                        being more likely.

The Tomb of Virgin Mary in Jerusalem, dating from
450 AD (Fig. 2.43) and the Church of Theolokos, dating
from 484, both coming from Saint Constance as well
as the Selencia-Pieria Martiryum (Fig. 2.44), the
Cathedral of Bosra (Fig. 2.45) or the Resaffa Martiryum
(Fig. 2.46), all of them coming from Saint Lorenzo’s in

Though the mentioned examples recall former ones,
there are other types of an unquestionable newness.

The parabolic dome of the Saint Joseph Martiryum in
Zorah (Fig. 2.47), the vaulted basilical plan of the Saint

                                                                   Fig. 2.45. Cathedral of Bosra (Baldwin Smith).

Fig. 2.43. Tomb of the Virgin Mary in Jerusalem (Baldwin Smith).

Fig. 2.44. Martiryum of Selencia Pieria (Baldwin Smith).           Fig. 2.46. Martiryum of Resaffa (Baldwin Smith).

                                                                                                         The Invention of the Dome

                                                                    Fig. 2.49a. Church of Bizzos, in Ruweha (Baldwin Smith).

                                                                    Fig. 2.49b. Church of Il-Anderin (Baldwin Smith).

Fig. 2.47. Martiryum of Saint George, in Zorah (Baldwin Smith).

                                                                    to be seen in the following chapter. In that movement
                                                                    the centralised plan schemes, of which Romans were
                                                                    so fond, were used with absolute mastery, as well as
                                                                    those of the one or more naves basilical plan, to be
                                                                    inherited by the Christian tradition during the
                                                                    Romanesque style, clearly inspired in these eastern
                                                                    examples and brought to the West by the pilgrims to
                                                                    Holy Land. Also, the schemes of cruciform plan, an
                                                                    innovation not to be considered in the West until the
                                                                    Gothic style; and finally, the rotunda schemes, the
                                                                    greatest exponent of which was the Palatine Chapel
                                                                    in Aquisgran. All this architecture from the Eastern
                                                                    plateaus would have an important future influence,
                                                                    since even Justinian used it as a precedent for his
                                                                    great revolution.

                                                                    We must consider that the eastern dome, which was
                                                                    not developed until the 3rd century, returned from Rome
                                                                    totally transformed and full of new possibilities that
                                                                    the Persian and Sassanid constructors developed with
                                                                    a clear autonomy and that later would exert influence
                                                                    over the Roman works in the bordering territories. We
                                                                    owe these eastern constructors great inventions that
                                                                    the Romans pursued but were not able to shape: the
                                                                    pendentives, the trumpet shells and the control of the
                                                                    square plan. In contrast, the Roman experience was
Fig. 2.48. Martiryum of Saint Sergio, in Resaffa (Baldwin Smith).
                                                                    able to propose more rational global arrangements and
                                                                    the hierarchisation of the different architectonic

All these constructions could be made thanks to the                 It seems that in the 1st century BC the Parthians were
initiative and support of the Byzantine emperors, to                able to construct some domes of parabolic form on
the point that it is not possible to think that eastern             trumpet shells but there is nothing left, except for much
architecture begins in the 6th century, however true                more subsequent examples that must have been
the fact that then starts a completely new movement,                influenced by the portentous Roman technique.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 2.50a.                                      Fig. 2.50b.                                        Fig. 2.50c.

                                                               Fig. 2.50e.

Fig. 2.50d.

Fig. 50f.                                  Fig. 50g.                              Fig. 50h.

Fig. 2.50a. Martiryum of Saint Elias. Plan.                    Fig.   2.50e. Outer aspect of the Martiryum of Chagra.
Fig. 2.50b. Elevation of the Martiryum of Saint Elias.         Fig.   2.50f. Plan of the Tomb of Bizzos, in Ruweha.
Fig. 2.50c. Present aspect of the Martiryum of Saint Elias.    Fig.   2.50g. Section of the Tomb of Bizzos, in Ruweha.
Fig. 2.50d. Plan of the Martiryum of Chagra.                   Fig.   2.50h. Outer aspect of the Tomb of Bizzos, in Ruweha.
All Figures belong to E. Baldwin Smith (Ref. 21)

In spite of this debt to western culture, we cannot but        height and on the other hand, the way centralised
admire the magnitude of their palaces and the skill of         spaces were crowned with a great variety of vaulted
their constructive solutions. The Sassanid Persians            forms that looked from the outside like mountains in
gave place to certain types that would never be                the centre of the whole. The ivan was an access that
forgotten. On the one hand, the palaces reticular              would soon be adopted by Persian, and later Hindu,
arrangement with the access through a vaulted ivan of          architecture, but was an inversion of the domes in half
great magnitudes that reached 25 m span and 30 m               a cappet of sphere that covered the Roman temples.

                                                                                                           The Invention of the Dome

Fig. 2.51. Plan of the Palace of Firuz Abad (Upham Pope).

Fig. 2.52. Structural scheme of the Palace of Firuz Abad (Ortega).

Fig. 2.53. Plan of the Palace of Bijapur (Upham Pope).               Fig. 2.54. Building section of the Palace of Bijapur (Upham Pope).

The Great Structures in Architecture

The centralised dome on a square or cruciform plan
was an optimal way to integrate in complex enclosures
the circular plan that the Romans constructed without
covering by its nature.

Thus, the greater works constructed by the
Sassanians, as for example Firuz Abbat Palace, by
Ardashir I (Fig. 2.51), was made up of a dozen vaulted
spaces and three domes with an 11 m diameter,
probably with a cambered shape. All of it perfectly
ordered in a rectangular enclosure of 104 x 55 m2 that
includes a great ivan and a courtyard, dating
approximately from 250 AD. Ortega (Ref. 17) has
studied in depth this sassanid construction and makes
an assumption of the palace that we support because,
though the domes are of small dimensions they are
cambered, made of a single shell of variable section
                                                                 Fig. 2.56. Plan of the Palace of Sarvistan (Upham Pope).
and must have surely been disposed in such a way
that they do not need craddlings nor shoring. The walls
that support them have a tremendous thickness
around 5 m, which must be justified by other reasons
apart from the structural counteracting. Fig. 2.52 shows
what must have been its geometric outline as well as
a possible disposition.

There is no doubt that none of these sassanid
constructions could have been built without the previous
contact with the Roman culture, no matter how much
their appearance is fully Eastern like. We have already
spoken of the step forward represented by the domes
on square plan; nevertheless they are of an
inconceivable primitivism as for the reception of light
and the ventilation of the enclosures, though not
because the builders did not have the solution at hand.
But this solution would not appear until the Byzantine           Fig. 2.57. Dome of the Palace of Sarvistan and isostatical lines
Empire fused the Mediterranean tradition and the                 of the dome intrados (Chassagnoux).
Eastern one.

Fig. 2.55. Passage from the octagonal plan to the circular one
in the Thermae of Caracal (Robertson).                           Fig. 2.58. Resting point of the tonal arches (Upham Pope).

                                                                                                       The Invention of the Dome

The other fully Eastern contribution is the accumulation            mechanical way without even paying attention to the
of domes, meaning the loss of the main role played                  great advances made by the Byzantine constructors.
by the single space. The Eastern architecture resorted
very frequently to the multiplication of domed spaces               Remarkably, despite the fact of being aware of the
in a repetition deprived of hierarchy, although in many             technology around them, they never used any other
cases one of the forms stood out among the others.                  Roman solution like the groined vault, the circular
                                                                    cylindrical one or the spherical dome.
It was like that to such extent that Bijapur Palace,
constructed by the second member of the dynasty,                    The great success of the half-sphere dome, with or
Shapur I, consisted of only a great dome. But also in               without oculo and on drum or without it, was due to its
this case it was built on a cruciform shape of square               optimal structural behaviour.
base. The passage from this complex plan (Fig. 2.53)
to the circular one requiring a dome of parabolic                   Recent studies trying to interpret its few detected
directrix, was done for the first time by means of the              pathologies revealed that its easy construction is
intersection of cylinders (Fig. 2.54). A 24 m diameter              combined with a great geometrical rigidity.
placed it close to the most spectacular Roman
constructions. Since there is nothing left of the vault,            The Roman domes were built mainly of pozzolanic
its construction and its real form are but a supposition.           cement, of brick or of a mixing of both. This gave them
But it is possible to draw very accurate conclusions                a monolithic aspect that would escape those made of
from the surviving ones. Without a doubt the builders               stone in the Renaissance and in behaviour closer to
did not know the pendentives necessary to arrange                   that of present day concrete domes. That is why some
the joining of the cylinders intersection, but they used            mathematical attempts were relatively right.
a kind of course approaching that already put in practice
by the Romans in the thermae of Caracal (Fig. 2.55)                 The Pantheon dome has been studied profusely. Thus
that surely the Sassanians learnt from the Roman                    Mark [Refs. 12 and 13] sets out an analysis
prisoners who worked on their constructions.                        considering a cylinder of 5.5 m thickness with the
                                                                    section of Fig. 2.59 and obtains maximum efforts of
A century later, Sarvistan Palace shared the same                   2.8 kg/cm2. It is surprising that when the
exposed characteristics and timidly started locating                reinforcements are eliminated, the efforts decrease by
the illumination windows at the height of the drum (Fig.            20%, but they have a stabilising effect that increases
2.56), which caused force concentrations that had not               the compressions and diminishes the cracking.
existed to date. Chassagnoux [Ref. 1] made an                       Theoretically, cracking must reach a height of 54º from
analysis by finite elements in which there could be                 the top and the reality verified in the work is very similar,
found a concentration of isostatical forces in the key              according to the drawings by Terenzio (Fig. 2.60) [Ref.
of the openings that reached a 1.5 kp/cm2 traction                  22]. Anyway, Polení’s study attached little importance
(Fig. 2.57).                                                        to a fact that appeared systematically in its domes,
                                                                    as can be seen in the drawing by Piranesi of the
They created too some original forms like the vaulted               Temple of Tosse in Villa Adriana (Fig. 2.61).
room of Fig. 2.58, with columns giving complexity to
the space. The Sassanid Empire stereotyped these                    The dome would be an element to incorporate in the
forms and from that moment on repeated them in a                    cultured posterior architecture and the Renaissance

Fig. 2.59. Modelisation by Finite Elements of the Pantheon of Agrippa section (Croci).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 2.60. Cracking state of the Pantheon of Agrippa dome (Mark).

                                                                    and the Baroque would make such an extensive use
                                                                    of it that those two styles would be featured by their
                                                                    architecture of convex spatiality.

                                                                    It would also be incorporated in popular architecture
                                                                    with a firmness that would make it irreplaceable as
                                                                    even modest constructions have no straight pieces
                                                                    to construct a flat formwork.

                                                                    Using exactly the same techniques found in Tell al
                                                                    Rimah (Fig. 2.2), people build without a framework
                                                                    nowadays in Afghanistan (Fig. 2.62 and 2.63) and
                                                                    everywhere in the islamic world there is an attempt to
                                                                    recover those old techniques as an identity sign. The
                                                                    complexity of the plans to cover with so scarce
                                                                    resources is illustrated in Fig. 2. 64, having to resort
                                                                    to means as basic as those seen in Figs. 2.65 and
                                                                    2.66. The results are nevertheless surprising and
                                                                    meticulous even for several plans (Fig. 2.67).

Fig. 2.61. Drawing by Piranesi of the Temple of Tosse, in the
Villa Adriana.

                                                                                                      The Invention of the Dome

Fig. 2.62. Building process without framework of a rectangular
plan vault and building stages (Souza).

Fig. 2.63. Building process without framework of rectangular     Fig. 2.64. Different building stages for the covering, by means
plan vault (Souza).                                              of domes, of a Mauritanian house (Souza).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                                       REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 2

                                                                  1. CHASSAGNOUX, A. “Persian Vaulted
                                                                      Architecture: morphology and equilibrium
                                                                      of vaults under static and dynamic loads”.
                                                                      Structural Studies of Historical Buildings IV.
                                                                      Computational Mechanics Pub. Southampton,
Fig. 2.65. Domed construction in Afghanistan (Souza).                 1995.
                                                                  2. CHOISY, A. “Historia de la Arquitectura”. Leru.
                                                                  3. CHOISY, A. “L’art de Batir chez les Romains”. Forni
                                                                      Editores, París, 1873.
                                                                  4. ESCRIG, F. “Towers and Domes”. Computational
                                                                      Mechanics Publications, 1998.
                                                                  5. FERGUSSON, J. “The Illustrated Handbook of
                                                                      Architecture”. Murray, London, 1859.
                                                                  6. FLETCHER, B. “A History of Architecture”.
                                                                      Butterworths, London.
                                                                  7. GARCIA BELLIDO, A. “Arte Romano”. C.S.I.C.,
                                                                      Madrid, 1972.
                                                                  8. HEINLE, E. & SCHLAICH, J. “Kuppeln”.
                                                                      DeutcheVerlags-Austalt, 1996.
                                                                  9. HEYMAN, J. “Teoría, historia y restauración de
                                                                      estructuras de fábrica”. ETSA de Madrid, 1995.
Fig. 2.66. Domed construction in a refugees camp in Afghanistan
(Souza).                                                          10.IASS. “Domes. From Antiquity to the Present”.
                                                                      Istanbul, Minar Sinan University, 1988.
                                                                  11. KRAUTHEIMER, R. “Arquitetura paleocristiana y
                                                                      bizantina”. Catedra, S.A. Madrid, 1984.
                                                                  12.MARK, R. “The Art and Structure of Large-scale
                                                                      Buildings”. MIT Press, 1993.
                                                                  13.MARK, R. “Light, Wind and Structure”. MIT Press,
                                                                  14.MARTA, R. “Arquitettura Romana”. Kappa, Rome,
                                                                  15.MINKE, G. “Earth Construction Handbook”. WIT
                                                                      Press, 2000.
                                                                  16.OATES, J. “Babylon”. Thames & Hudson.
                                                                  17.ORTEGA, F. “Historia de la Construcción”. Libro
                                                                      Primero. ETSA de las Palmas, Books I, II and III.
                                                                  18.ROBERTSTON. “Arquitectura Griega y Romana”.
                                                                  19.SALVADORI, M. “Why Buildings Stand Up”. Norton,
                                                                  20.SCHLAICH, J. & HEINLE, E. “Kuppeln. Aller zeiten-
                                                                      Aller Kulturen” Deutche Verlags-Austalf, 1996.
                                                                  21.BALDWIN SMITH, E. “The Dome. A study in the
                                                                      history of ideas“ Princeton University Press, 1971.
                                                                  22.TERENZIO, A. “La restauración del Panteón de
                                                                      Roma”. La conservation des monuments d’Art &
                                                                      d’Histoire. Paris, 1934.
                                                                  23.TRACHTENBERG, M. & HYMAN, I. “Arquitectura”.
                                                                  24.WARD PERKINS. “Arquitectura Romana”. Aguilar.
                                                                  25.SOUZA GOIS, M.I. “Cúpulas de Tierra”. Master
                                                                      tesis ETSA de Sevilla. Prof. Escrig, 1995. Not
Fig. 2.67. Construction domed in several levels (Souza).              published.

                                                                                                             The Hanging Dome

                                                                             Chapter 3. THE HANGING DOME

Although the dome building tradition was never                      As early as 524, Polyeuktos Church began to be built,
interrupted while the Roman empire existed, both                    with a dome of 20 m in diameter and we guess that
sides, East and West, continued repeating their usual               with a longitudinal scheme reminiscent of later
styles with some small variations.                                  examples. Since this church has not survived it is
                                                                    based on an ideal reconstruction by Harrison [Ref. 4].
The Western domes were supported by circular or                     We will not spend any time analysing it (Fig. 3.1).
polygonal forms with a high number of sides, which
allowed them to go from the drum to the shell without               The first fully finished example of this kind is Saint
the need of important elements of transition. The                   Irene in Constantinople, begun in 532 (Fig. 3.2), with
groined vault was fundamentally used on square plans.               an imposing aspect because of its great transverse
The Eastern solution by means of trumpet shells was                 arches as wide as the lateral naves so as to contain
always an inelegant way of solving the problem. For                 the horizontal forces (Fig. 3.3) and its completely
that reason it is surprising that the VIth century was              pierced walls similar to those in later gothic cathedrals
born with so many simultaneous innovations. The for-                (Fig. 3.4).
mal and constructive search was of a fecundity never
seen before in such a short time. Simultaneously the                Saint Irene is, in addition, a perfect example of a good
Byzantine constructors solved five problems:                        use of thrusts counteracting by means of two domes,

a) The dome is supported by great arches that left the
frontal walls clear enough to be perforated by windows
or passages.
b) The use of pendentives like a perfect element of
transition from a square to a circle.
c) The suitable accumulation of domes and vaults to
compensate the thrust.
d) Constructions of great lightness.
e) The support of the dome on isolated points, which
guarantees an even illumination and in a certain way
dematerializes the weight of the dome, which looks
as if supported by rays of sunlight. The mosaic and
glazed decoration contributed to that effect.

                                                                    Fig. 3.1b. Interior view of the Church of Polyeuktos. Ideal
Fig. 3.1a. Church of Polyeuktos. Ideal reconstruction (Harrison).   reconstruction (O´Donell).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                              Fig. 3.5. Saint Irene, in Constantinople. Structural scheme.
Fig. 3.2. Saint Irene, in Constantinople. Section and plan.

Fig. 3.3. Saint Irene, in Constantinople. Inner view.

                                                              Fig. 3.6. Church of the Saints Sergio and Baco. Plan and
Fig. 3.4. Saint Irene, in Constantinople. Outer view.         sections (Ozsen).

                                                                                                          The Hanging Dome

Fig. 3.7. Photogrammetric scheme of the Church of the Saints
Sergio and Baco (Ozsen).
                                                               Fig. 3.10. Topographical plan of the dome of Sergio and Baco

                                                               Fig. 3.11. Structural scheme of Sergio and Baco (Choisy).
Fig. 3.8. Inner view of the Church of the Saints Sergio and

Fig. 3.9. Outer view of the Church of the Saints Sergio and    Fig.3.12. Comparison of sections and floors between Saints
Baco.                                                          Sergio and Baco and Saint Vital in Ravena (Choisy).

one of them having a circular shape 15 m in diameter           It is remarkable that however difficult it may seem, in
and the other an oval shape with the dimensions of 12          every following work the complexity multiplied.
x 15 m, and of another dome like a cap of a quarter of
sphere cap dome in the apsidal model, inherited from           Saints Sergio and Baco Church, built in Constantinople
the Roman exedras and coming from the                          between 527 and 536, have besides a centralised plan,
palaeochristians apses (Fig. 3.5).                             clearly following a Roman model but solved with
                                                               completely different proposals.
Even if Justinian had not done anything else, he would
have deserved a place in History because of this work.         In addition to the ambulatory, in the line that had been

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 3.13. Plan of Saint Vital, in Ravenna (Ward Perkings).

                                                                    Fig. 3.16. Outer view of Saint Vital, in Ravenna.

Fig. 3.14. Structural scheme of Saint Vital, in Ravenna (Escrig).

                                                                    Fig. 3.17. Making up of the pieces of the dome of Saint Vital, in
                                                                    Ravenna (Mark).

                                                                    proposed in Saint Lorenzo in Milan, it used a system
                                                                    of arches that make good use of this double skin for
                                                                    the relief of forces (Fig. 3.6). The dome is in this case
                                                                    ornamented, attaching therefore a great structural
                                                                    importance to the reinforcement ribs, although they
                                                                    are little apparent. The shell is made up of lobes, as
                                                                    can be seen in the drawing in perspective of the
                                                                    photogrammetric restitution (Fig. 3.7) [Ref. 14 ].

                                                                    The passage from the octagonal form to the circular
Fig. 3.15. Inner view of Saint Vital, in Ravenna (Escrig).          one is also made by means of pendentives and the

                                                                                                          The Hanging Dome

Fig. 3.18. Pieces of the dome and key of Saint Vital, in Ravenna (Mirabella and Lombardini).

illumination achieved by piercing the shell, according             sections made by Choisy. It has a more formal
to the rules of Byzantine construction (Fig. 3.8), turning         coherence that becomes apparent in the plan,
weightless the 18 m diameter dome.                                 peculiarly turned 22.5º with respect to the Narthex
                                                                   (Fig. 3.13) [Ref. 2]. The inner space is of a grandiosity
A feature inherited from the Romans is the modesty of              unknown until then, the result of being higher than
the materials used, even more in this case since even              wide.
the pozzolanic cement was not available.
                                                                   The different levels and the drum embedded in the cap
The whole building is constructed with brick and mortar            with great dimensioned windows increase the
obtained with the mixing of lime and crushed bricks                sensation of height (Fig. 3.14).
(Fig. 3.9). This system, though seeming a
disadvantage, has turned out to be the salvation of                Instead of pendentives, small trumpet shells have been
these buildings. Firstly because no later civilization             used simulating sorts of corbel supports that give
bothered to dismantle what was unusable and secondly               horizontality to the springing level and allow it to
because the masonry obtained was elastic enough to                 interrupt in a suitable way the verticality of the main
adapt to the great movements suffered by the                       buttresses edges (Fig. 3.15). Its outer aspect has a
foundations as well as those produced by earth                     clear volumetry, so legible with regards to what
tremors. From 1600 AD to the present time, 89                      happens inside that such a clarity would not be found
earthquakes of an intensity higher than six have been              again until the Romanesque (Fig. 3.16).
                                                                   In this case, the weight of the cover exceeds 1,000
All these movements have produced geometric                        tonnes, which combined with its height requires a
changes, windows breaking and render loosening.                    transversal reinforcement that experience has proved
Paradoxically, what most damaged this building was                 strong enough but that is not apparent, and that in the
the railroad that was constructed closeby in 1870.                 absence of more complete studies allows us to think
Nevertheless, during the war of the Balkans it was                 that implies an almost limiting dimension. Many
used as a shelter from the bombing because of its                  contemporary analyses, made by fitting methods of
safeness.                                                          calculation, of big constructions such as the Pantheon,
                                                                   Santa Sophia and the great gothic cathedrals,
Fig. 3.10 shows the present state of the geometry                  disregard smaller structures like this one that seem
and allows sight of its great distortions.                         far better dimensioned and in a more rational way.

Fig. 3.11 is a sectioned perspective showing how the               Because of its interest, therefore, we add the studies
approximately 2,000 tonnes of weight of the dome are               shown in Ref. 11. The perfectly hemispheric cover is
absorbed.                                                          about 16 m in diameter and its main particularity is
                                                                   that it is made up of horizontal tubes forming rings
A later building following a very similar guideline is             from the base to the key (Fig. 3.17).
Saint Vital in Ravenna, also built during the Byzantine
period, with a hemispheric cap cover on octagonal plan             These tubes have approximately 14 cm of side plus a
with ambulatory. Saint Vital is, in a formal way, much             cone of 6 cm, a diameter of 5 to 6 cm and a thickness
more complete for several reasons: it is much higher,              of 0.5 cm (Fig. 3.18). This allows an almost uniform
reaching 30 m, whereas Sergio and Baco reached only                thickness of the dome of 21 cm (Fig. 3.19). According
20 m. Fig. 3.12 shows the comparison between both                  to this and to the determination of the quality of the

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 3.19. Section of Saint Vital, in Ravenna (Mirabella and Lombardini).

Fig. 3.20. Deformations of the dome of Saint Vital during the construction. On the left, construction with shoring; on the right,
without shoring (Mirabella and Lombardini).

Fig. 3.21. Calculation of efforts and displacements 56º from the key when building by rings (Mirabella and Lombardini).

                                                                                                             The Hanging Dome

materials, some interesting data have been obtained.             Due to the thickness (1.25% of the diameter), the
Fig 3.20 shows the deformation of the dome with its              flexions are insignificant and we get a practically perfect
proportions vertically doctored by 500, for different            membrane state.
hypotheses of materials rigidity. This deformation
ranges between 0.3206 mm in the case of maximum                  Paradoxically, in the calculations obtained, if the hollow
rigidity and 1.84 mm for maximum flexibility. In the left        tubes had been placed in the direction of the meridians,
graphic is considered the construction with framework,           the structure would have behaved much worse unless
whereas in the right one without it and by rings advance         it had been built on a framework removed with the
without shoring. These are the two possible forms to             mortar well forged, in which case the behaviour would
construct this dome.                                             have been similar.

The calculation of the efforts and displacements                 In any case, Santa Sophia is the most important work
produced by building by rings and without shoring is             of Byzantine architecture in which all the technological
illustrated in Fig. 3.21 by means of the assimilation to         resources were experimented with, giving rise to one
sixteen states of course advance, in the zone                    of the most singular constructions.
corresponding to 56º from the key.
                                                                 We have already explained how the plan is a
In any case, the efforts are minimum (0.92 kg/cm2 of             combination of the greater Roman constructions: the
compression in the direction of the parallels and 1.43           basilical form of the thermae with its three longitudinal
kg/cm2 in that of the meridians). Neither this tension           modules having material galleries to hide the buttresses
nor the maximum traction of 0.12 kg/cm2 appearing                (Fig. 3.22), and the centralized plan of Pantheon type
in other points are critical for the used materials.             with some transformations (Fig.3.23). In addition we

Fig. 3.22. Roman basilical plan (Escrig).                        Fig. 3.23. Scheme of a central plan through an evolution from
                                                                 the basilical model (Escrig).

Fig. 3.24. Superposition of «A» Ste Sophia, «B» Basilica of Maxencius and «C» the Pantheon (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                             find the previously mentioned innovations: the great
                                                             transverse arches that serve as supports, the
                                                             counteracting by means of sectorial domes, the dome
                                                             resting on points and the thinness of this one due to
                                                             its brick construction.

                                                             Figure 3.24 shows the superposition of three main
                                                             buildings where we can see that «A» and «B» have
                                                             the same area and «A» and «C» the same diameter
                                                             between main piers.

                                                             The result is that of a hitherto unknown greatness
                                                             (Fig. 3.25). The 31.2 m diameter of the dome, the
                                                             76 m of length and the 50 m of height were the
                                                             greatest continuous volumes ever built before
                                                             (Figs 3.26 and 3.27). The dome profile was not the
                                                             present one but that represented in Fig. 3.28 having
                                                             geometric continuity with the pendentives and being
                                                             changed in the first reconstruction for the profile of
                                                             Fig. 3.29.

                                                             The complex with its collection of abutted domes is
                                                             really difficult to interpret (Fig. 3.30), but it is based
                                                             fundamentally on a dome that rests on four transverse
                                                             arches of great magnitude which transition to the cir-
                                                             cular plan is done by means of pendentives. These
                                                             transverse arches are not rigid enough to support the
Fig. 3.25. Engraving of the interior of Saint Sophia, in     horizontal thrusts, they must be supported by auxiliary
                                                             structures: in the north-western and south-eastern
                                                             sides with two semi domes that in turn are
                                                             compensated by other shells of apse, and in the per-
                                                             pendicular sides by four huge buttresses (Fig. 3.31),
                                                             clearly illustrating all this Fig. 3.32.

                                                             The problem is that these buttresses were not sufficient
                                                             and the dome suffered frequent breaking almost from
                                                             its inauguration and even partial collapse, it had to be
                                                             reinforced with even greater buttresses (Fig. 3.33) and
                                                             their great transparent walls had to be blocked up (Fig.
                                                             3.34). The dome, being continuous in the beginning,
                                                             ended up being rebuilt with reinforcing ribs and even
                                                             so its great elasticity made it so deformable that its
                                                             aspect is quite irregular (Fig. 3.35)

                                                             The causes of the bad structural behaviour,
                                                             nevertheless, must not necessary be only looked for
                                                             in its design. Also the constructive technique leaves a
                                                             lot to be desired. The complete building was finished
                                                             in five years and, to save expenses, the masonry was
                                                             made up of bad quality brick walls and a mortar with
                                                             joints of several centimetres and badly set while being

                                                             To make matters worse, it is situated in a highly
                                                             seismic zone. The question would not be why the
                                                             dome collapsed so many times, but how did it manage
                                                             to remain standing for so long (Fig. 3.36).

                                                             Calculations done with modern technologies in this
                                                             building are contradictory according to the different
Fig. 3.26. Inner space of Saint Sophia, in Constantinople.   searchers.

                                                                                                       The Hanging Dome

                                                                   80,90 m.

Fig. 3.27. Section and plan of Saint Sophia, in Constantinople.

According to Mainstone [Ref. 7], the author of the most           Mainstone even says that the cracking of the rest of
deep and detailed study of Santa Sophia, the problems             the structure is beneficial because it diminishes the
originated in the scarce experience in the structural             frequencies of vibration in the case of earthquakes.
innovation represented by the supporting of a dome                The only real problem that it gives rise to is the
by means of transverse arches, having not made a                  progressive inclination of the buttresses. Fig. 3.35
symmetrical counteracting. The semi domes of the E                shows the scheme of dissipation of forces according
and W sides proved to be an effective system, but the             to this author.
N and S buttresses behaved rather badly, letting the
materials slip and triggering the dome denting. No                According to Mark [Ref. 10], who has made a finite
matter how much it was enlarged, because its increase             elements analysis, the first breaking of the dome in
of rigidity caused a thrusts increment straight away              558 AD, eleven years after being finished and due to
and therefore an asymmetrical behaviour of the dome.              553 AD and 557 AD earthquakes, and its conversion
The regularisation by means of tensors and hoops did              into a dome with a different profile was
not help. He doubts the quality of the foundations and            counterproductive.
of the capacity of the buttresses, hollowed out to have
stairs and galleries, to absorb horizontal thrusts. The           The first model used the pendentives distributing the
present cracks of the dome are not important unless               efforts very regularly and concentrating them in the
its haunches get more separated.                                  corners (Fig. 3.37a), whereas the second model, the

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 3.28. Initial design of the dome of Saint Sophia (Mainstone).   Fig. 3.30. Volumetric scheme of the domes of Saint Sophia

Fig. 3.29. Initial and present sections of the dome of Saint         Fig. 3.31. Outer view of the domes of Saint Sophia.
Sophia (Mainstone).

Fig. 3.32 Structural scheme of Saint Sophia (Escrig).

                                                                                                            The Hanging Dome

Fig. 3.33 Initial plan and successive reinforcements of the Church of Saint Sophia (Mainstone).

Fig. 3.34. Filling of the tympanums for the reinforcement of      Fig. 3.35. Topographical scheme of the domes of Saint Sophia
Saint Sophia (Mainstone).                                         (Hidaka).

present one, because of resting on a plan that                    Fossati in the 19th century by means of metallic
fundamentally rests on the transverse arches (Fig.                bundles, hardly had any result in respect of the
3.37b), gives rise to important thrusts in the highest            displacements.
part of the buttresses. Apart from the above, the present
dome is more stable than the primitive thanks to a                The thesis made by Cereto [Ref. 1] contains revealing
greater curvature and to reinforced ribs.                         data that the dome is elliptical due to the lateral
                                                                  deformation of the southern and northern walls with a
According to Mungam [Ref. 12] the effect of the                   difference of 1 m in the main axes and that the collapse
supporting arches is highly effective only when they              of the buttresses is at the present time of 0.8 m (Figs
all have the same rigidity. In the opposite case, the             3.38 and 3.39). When comparing his calculations with
deformations are proportional to the least rigid and              the real behaviour of the dome, we lead to the
produce flexions in the shell. That is the reason why             conclusions that the constructive problems began
the considerable reinforcement made by Gaspare                    during its erection, due to the sliding of the bricks on

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 3.36. Descending loads in Saint Sophia (Mainstone).

                                                                the mortar and that the counteracting semi domes
                                                                produce an inward thrust that magnifies the thrust
                                                                toward the outside of the zone of buttresses whose
                                                                role is passive, resulting in a non-uniform state of
                                                                tensions. Figure 3.40 shows the deformation of the
                                                                original dome calculated both ways, obtaining efforts
                                                                greater than 5 kg/cm2, and reaching even 10 kg/cm2
                                                                in certain cases, which is excessive for this type of

                                                                In summary, this is a problematic construction that
                                                                survives as a result of the will of the successive cultures
                                                                to keep it standing, and that has served as an authentic
Figs. 3.37a, b and c . Tensional behaviour of the former dome   structures laboratory. The works of Sinan in the XVIth
and the present dome of Saint Sophia (Mark).                    century owe so much to the solutions of Saint Sophia

                                                                                                                  The Hanging Dome

Fig. 3.38. Resting plan of the main dome of Saint Sophia (Mark).

Fig. 3.39a Outward collapse of the closings (Cereto).

Fig. 3.39b. Pathologies of the buttresses of Saint Sophia (Cereto).   Fig. 3.40. Deformation of the actual dome in both ways (Cereto).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 3.41. Church of the Holy Apostles, in Constantinople.         Fig. 3.42. Church of the Holy Apostles. Reconstruction of the
Drawing from a codex.                                              plan (Krautheimer).

Fig. 3.43. Inner perspective, plan and outer perspective of Saint John, in Efeso (Krautheimer).

                                                                                                       The Hanging Dome

Fig. 3.44a and b. Plan of Saint Marcos, in Venice, and structural scheme (Choisy).

                                                                  that we could rightly state that we are before the
                                                                  prototype work of the eastern architecture, the same
                                                                  as the Pantheon is for the western one.

                                                                  The Byzantines inventions continued in other religious
                                                                  models. Influenced by the approaches of the great
                                                                  monasteries of the Middle East, they generate Latin
                                                                  cross plans covered with successive domes without a
                                                                  special hierarchy.

                                                                  The Holy Apostles Church in Constantinople (540-550
                                                                  AD) inaugurates this tendency, although there is no
Fig. 3.45a, b, c and d. Outer view, plan and inner views of       longer anything left of it. Figs. 3.41 and 3.42 show
Saint Front, in Périgueux (Escrig).                               what this great construction, which had sequels in

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                          Fig. 3.48.a. Plan of Saint Peter, in Angoulême (Conant).

Fig. 3.46. Saint Etienne, in Périgueux (Escrig).

                                                          Fig. 3.48b. Inner view of Saint Peter, in Angouleme (Escrig).

                                                          Venice or the Holy Apostles. Such a long geographic
                                                          distance in front of such constructive similarity is only
                                                          explained by a cultural connection that must obviously
                                                          have been provided by the crusades.

                                                          The basic difference that can be observed is that of
                                                          the illumination solution. Whereas in the Byzantine
Fig. 3.47. Structural section of Echillais (Conant).      architecture the dome was an appropriation of the sky
                                                          and therefore had to be drilled so that the light got in,
                                                          in the Romanic, closer to the Roman tradition, light is
the East but many more in the West, must have been.       looked for through the walls.
In effect, Saint John in Efeso, finished towards 565
AD (Fig. 3.43) is an Eastern exact replica. The same      It is interesting to observe how the patterns brought
thing happens in the West, from Italy, where Saint        by the crusaders from the East recreate the forms but
Marcos in Venice repeats the formula (Fig. 3.44) in       lose the subtlety that all Byzantine architecture and
the middle of the XIth century, to Aquitaine in France,   the later Muslim one breathes. Saint Etienne, also in
in the XIIth, where the same plan is used with less       Périgueux (Fig. 3.46), Echillais (Fig.3. 47), Angoulême
skill but more greatness. A good example of this can      (Fig. 3.48), Cahors (Fig. 3.49), Fontevrault (Fig. 3.50)
be found in Saint Front de Périgueux (Fig. 3.45), which   or Souillac (Fig. 3.51) are merely some of the scores
plan is almost an exact replica of Saint Marcos in        of examples of churches in the region that, unlike most

                                                                                                             The Hanging Dome

Fig. 3.48c. Main dome of Saint Peter, in Angoulême (Escrig).      Fig. 3.48dc. Domes of Saint Peter, in Angoulême (Escrig).

Fig. 3.49.a. General view of Saint Etienne, in Cahors (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 3.49b. Inner view of Saint Etienne, in Cahors (Escrig).

                                                                 Fig. 3.51a and b. Outer view and inner view of domes of Souillac

                                                                 of the Romanics churches, are not covered with a barrel
                                                                 vault. Structurally, in these cases we cannot speak of
                                                                 a contribution, but it is shocking to find this island of
                                                                 Eastern tradition in the Roman Christian whole.

                                                                 One of the structural advantages of these solutions is
Fig. 3.50 a and b. Plan and inner view of Fontevault (Conant).   that they rest in points and therefore release the walls

                                                                                                        The Hanging Dome

Fig. 3.52a and b. Saint Sophia, in Salonica. Outer view and
structural scheme (Krautheimer).

                                                              Fig. 3.54a and b. Structural scheme and main dome of the
                                                              Dodrum Camii, in Constantinople (Krautheimer).

                                                              Below we will see how other ribbed Romanic
                                                              expressions were also imported and that Gothic would
                                                              have not taken place without the existence of the

                                                              Still in the Byzantine ground, the ability for
                                                              experimentation is inexhaustible. The power to make
                                                              astronomical investments has been lost, but in a
                                                              reduced scale new designs are tried. Saint Sophia in
                                                              Salonica perforates a prismatic drum instead of the
                                                              dome (Fig. 3.52), although in the interior that is not
                                                              evident. The Round Church of Preslav (Fig. 3.53) com-
Fig. 3.53. Round Church in Preslav. Plan and section          bines all the possible complications: lobed circular
(Krautheimer).                                                plan, circular ambulatory, two levels, hemispheric dome
                                                              on pierced drums and drum buttresses. The Dodrum
of load. These can be pierced with great hollows, the         Camii in Constantinople, although a miniature, is of
interiors becoming unusually luminous for that time. It       an outstanding complexity (Fig. 3.54). At that moment,
also implies that the centring of the loads on the            the dome of continuous mass already had experienced
supports, being greater than in the usual Romanic             all the possible forms. From that moment only design
construction, requires smaller buttresses. So,                polishing is left to be done, that is what the
churches were built of only one nave, with hardly any         Renaissance style did.
side buttresses. At that moment, the massive
construction created in Saint Irene was surpassed,            Meanwhile other possibilities of a completely different
being presaged in other ways by what Gothic art would         nature are opened up, turning the domes into
later do.                                                     something different: the ribbed dome.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                             REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 3

1. CERETO, W. STEFANO, A . & NASCE, V. “Hagia              Historical Perspective”. Structural Repair and
   Sophia: A laboratorium monument”. Structural            Maintenance of Historical Buildings III”. Bath 1993,
   Repair and Maintenance of Historical Building II.       Computational Mechanics Pub. Southampton, pp.
   Sevilla 1991. Computational Mechanics Pub.,             33-45.
   Southampton, Pp. 87-95.                             11. MIRABELLA, G. & LOMBARDINI, N. “Late Roman
2. CHOISY. “Historia de la Arquitectura”. Ed. Leru,        Domes in Clay tubes. Historical and numerical
   Argentina.                                              study of S. Vital in Ravena”. Spatial Structures.
3. CONANT. “Arquitectura Carolingia y Románica.            Heritage Present and Future, Milan, 1995. Ed.
                                                           Padua, pp. 1237-1244.
   800-1200”. Manuales de Arte Cátedra, Madrid.
                                                       12.MUNGAM. I & TÜRKMER, M. “Effect of the arches
4. HARRISON, M. “A temple for Byzantium”.
                                                           and semidomes on the Statical and dynamic
   University of Texas Press., Austin, pp.139, 1989.
                                                           Behaviour of the Central dome in Hagia Sophia”.
5. HIDAKA, K et al “Photogrammetry of the Eastern          Spatial Structures. Heritage Present and Future,
   Semi-dome of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul”. Public            Milan, 1995, Ed. Padua, pp. 1253-1260.
   Assembly Structures. IASS Symposium 1993,           13.ORTEGA, F. “Historia de la Construcción”. Libro
   Istanbul, Minar Sinan University Pub.                   Tercero, ETSA de las Palmas.
6. KRAUTHEIMER. “Arquitectura Paleocrisiana y          14. OZSEN, G.A. “The Structural Evaluation of Kuçuk
   Bizantina”. Madrid Manuales Arte Cátedra, 1992.         Ayasofya Mosque”. St. Sergius and Bakhus in
7. MAINSTONE. “The Structural Conservation of Hagia        Istanbul”. Spatial Structures. Heritage Present and
   Sophia. Structural Repair and Maintenance of            Future. Milan, 1995. Ed. Padua, pp. 1261-1270.
   Historical Buildings III”. Bath, 1993, pp. 3-14.    15.ROCA, P., GONZÁLEZ J.L., MARI, A.R. & OÑATE
   Computational Mechanics Pub., Southampton.              E. “Structural Analysis of Historical Constructions”.
8. MAINSTONE. R. “Hagia Sophia”. Thames &                  CIMNE, Barcelona, 1997.
   Hudson, London, 1989.                               16.SANPAOLESI, P. “Structure a cupola
9. MARK, R. “Architectural Technology use to the           autoportante”. Palladio. Rome, nº 1-IV, pp. 3-64.
   Scientific Revolution”. The MIT Press, 1993.        17.SANPAOLESI, P. “La chiesa di S. Sophia a
10.MARK, R. “Structural analysis of Hagia Sophia: a        Constantinopoli”. Officina Edicione.

                                                                                                     The Ribbed Dome

                                                                       Chapter 4. THE RIBBED DOME

In search of lightness, economy and an easy                but most usually kept intact in their pointed diagonals.
construction, many techniques had been experimented        Observation and logic must have helped a lot to
with, the preceding chapters is the story of a             understand that every folding reinforced the surface.
progression from heavier forms, despite their reduced      But very few times, and no case has survived, a surface
dimensions, to the minimum weight in the wake of           was considered as a piece of fabric which is made up
the Pantheon, whose huge room was thought of as            of threads that are woven or warped showing the
the maximum surface to be covered without                  fanciest forms and the most beautiful drawings. No
intermediate supports. That had been possible thanks       civilization bothered less about the three dimensions
to the use of a malleable material that nobody was         than those empires that suffered from vacuum horror
able to reproduce. The Byzantine mortar made of lime       and felt forced to fill the buildings with reliefs, shapes,
and brick powder was of not much use and the               spaces and masses. The Assyrians, the Egyptians,
stonework, which settled with a geometrical perfection,    the Greeks or the Romans, the eastern and the western
required a specialisation and means that very few          ones, and even the Indians later, invented complex
builders could achieve. Villa Adriana, Minerva Temple      orders that had to cover everything.
or Sergio and Baco reinforced their surfaces with groins
that proved to be pretty stable. The thousands of          Only the Muslims, followers of a linear religion that
Roman groined vaults could collapse in many points,        did not even accept the existence of a hell, having a

Fig. 4.1. Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem (Valcárcel).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.2. Structural and geometrical section of the dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem (Ortega).

literature traced with only a winding line and                     outward or the polychrome plasterwork inward, hiding
representation systems of the simplest geometry,                   the structure (Figs. 4.1 and 4.2). Its 20 m in diameter
without images and without imitating nature, could                 and 25 m of height imposed this type of light
conceive what turned out to be the most fecund way                 construction on a great power that, having military and
for architecture: the fibrous construction, the                    ideological dominion over an immense territory, did
architecture of resistant lines.                                   not have its own model to follow.

The discovery of the fact that a form behaves by                   That is why the first great mosques, that were
adapting itself to its inner resistant elements was really         constructed making use of previous buildings and with
a result of intuition, and many centuries had to pass              so scarce elements, are so important to explain what
before forming part of the structures theory.                      happened afterwards. Probably imitating the Rock, all
Nevertheless, that was the path opened by the builders             the mosques had a domed space that, in a certain
of the ribbed domes.                                               way tried to be more representative outward than
                                                                   inward, at least until the moment when minarets took
Where is the origin of the true ribbed dome that based             over from it as the identifying element. The mosques
on brick or stone courses that, logically, can be built            of Damascus, Medina or Cairo would have domes that
with little shoring?                                               in no way correspond to the present ones and that did
                                                                   not allow to foretell what would happen. In fact, the
Without any doubt, the Omeyas triggered the process.               appearance of the Abasies in the East and even the
The dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, finished in 691                 coincidence of the literary, scientific and technical
AD, was made of wood and followed the patterns                     renaissances symbolised by Charlemagne in Aquitaine
previously seen in the central Roman plans as that of              and Harum al Rashid in Baghdad, cannot hide the
the Saint Constance Mausoleum, profusely imitated                  fact that the source was in Constantinople, which
by close constructions such as the Virgin, or the                  both of them tried to control from the extremes of the
Martirium of Seleucia or Resaffa. But there is                     civilised world.
something that makes it different. The ribs of the
covering framework are copied out of a ship structure,             Actually, the constructive technique of some domes
the only reticular precedent of the great convex surfaces.         of the time, as that of Ibn Tulum in Fustat, dating from
Also, as in the naval version, the ribs were nailed to a           879 AD, follow Sassanid and Byzantine patterns (Fig.
wooden planking on which to place the golden metal                 4.3), but that of the great mosque of Kairnan, in 875,

                                                                                                        The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.3. Mosque of Ibn Julun, in Fustat.

                                                          Fig. 4.5. Dome of the Chapel of Villaviciosa, in the Mosque of

Fig. 4.4. Dome of the Great Mosque of Kaiman.

obviously materialises what in the Rock was hidden
(Fig. 4.4). Too many pieces of the puzzle have
disappeared to speculate about the birth of ribs in the

What does not leave room for discussion is what
happened in Spain, where the deposed Omeyas created
a court from 750 AD to the beginning of the millennium,
                                                          Fig. 4.6. Main dome in front of the mihrab, in the Mosque of
similar in its splendour to that of Baghdad, but much     Cordoba.
more sophisticated, democratic and cultivated. The
Mosque of Cordoba is, for many reasons, the most          polygonal spaces in a sumptuous way (Fig. 4.5).
beautiful jewel since Saint Sophia to the great
Romanic cathedrals.                                       Three other domes follow two different models of
                                                          passage from the square to the octagon by means of
But we want to cite it here only because of its five      ribs. The most beautiful of them, the central one, links
domes on square or rectangular plan, built by Al-Hakem    alternate vertexes of the octagon (Fig. 4.6). The other
II in 961 to 976 AD, being filigrees in brick that the    two link each vertex to the third one from that (Fig.
Gothic style equalled but did not surpass and             4.7).
examples of inventiveness, beauty and efficacy.
                                                          The Real Chapel, traced as the Chapel of Villaviciosa,
The dimensions of 10 x 8 m2. of the Chapel of             hidden from visitors and lacking in ornaments is, with
Villaviciosa and its eight ribs permit it to cover some   its serrated ribs, of an immense dramatism (Fig. 4.8).

The Great Structures in Architecture

It is not worthwhile to consider their structural
behaviour, that is pretty obvious and was never intended
to draw anyone’s attention because of its audacity.
Nevertheless, such modest constructions have been
admired by all their past and present visitors. Basically,
they did not deal with a constructive problem, but with
an ornamental one. What was the difference among
the solutions given to the making of an inlay (Fig. 4.9),
of a tile (Fig. 4.10), of a map (Fig. 4.11), of a latticework
(Fig. 4.12) or of a piece of fabric (Fig. 4.13)?

The consciousness of newness led to the repetition of
this model with infinite variations. In Toledo, the small
Christ of the Light Mosque, dating from 1000 AD, is a
collection of samples of different shapes (Fig. 4.15).
Even after the Omeya splendour had faded, the Taifa
kingdoms were captivated to the point of affectation
by the ornamental potential of such geometrical
systems.                                                        Fig. 4.7. Side dome in front of the mihrab, in the Mosque of

The Aljaferia of Zaragoza, dated about 1050 AD, shows
a coherence and a proportion that deserve deeper study
(Fig. 4.14). Just as thousands of mosques that today,
transformed to churches for a different worship, still
show those simple domes, made by artisans who
were paid for carving different patterns in each work.

The remains underlying every village inhabited by the
Muslims should be analysed one by one to find the
innumerable links that competed with the northern
religious architecture and with that from Byzantium,
refusing to be integrated in which, once overcome the
former prejudices, would culminate in the Gothic style.
There are complexes, such as Our Lady of the Olive              Fig. 4.8. Dome of the Royal Chapel, in the Mosque of Cordoba.
in Lebrija (Fig. 4.16) or the Huelgas Monastery in
Burgos (Fig. 4.17), that we cite only as a justification.

Without hesitation, Spain held this tradition practically
to the present time with no interruption. Guarini, with
the 1668 Saint Lorenzo of Turin, inspired by the
Cordoba mosque (Fig. 4.18), or Luis Moya in the XXth
century, forced by the poverty of the country that
required the recovering of this cheap technique (Fig.
4.19), are examples of the maintaining of something
that not even the Christian conquerors of Muslim Spain
thought of substituting. As a good example, the
magnificent dome of the Room of the Ambassadors in
the Alcazar of Seville, which wooden work does not fit
in this context, but that, nevertheless, reveals the very       Fig. 4.9. Nazari escritoire made of wood and ivory marquetry.
high levels of sophistication reached (Fig. 4.20).

The other place in which the brick calligraphy reached
refined levels was ancient Persia. The Isfahan complex
is as rich in dome solutions as any other monument
in history (Fig. 4.21). Here we find starred domes (Fig.
4.22), domes of polygonal patterns (Fig. 4.23), do-
mes with the ribs exposed to the outside view (Fig.
4.24), ribs embedded in the mass (Fig. 4.26), domes
on pointed transverse arches (Fig. 4.25), very complex
transitions from square to polygonal plans (Fig. 4.27)
and wooden domes, looking like mushrooms in the                 Fig. 4.10. Nazari glazed tiles.

                                                                                                            The Ribbed Dome

middle of the desert, like a beach full with umbrellas
in front of a non existent sea (Fig. 4.28).

But Isfahan was only a laboratory in which people
worked along nine centuries. The Iranian plateaus were
full with the most varied domes, the most pointed of
them shored up (Fig. 4.29).

Even the rich wooden stalactites formations named
mocarabes, seem to have been originated in the
complex systems of trumpet shells used to make
gradually smaller the span to cover (Fig. 4.30). These
wooden mocarabes would culminate in the superb
Nazary constructions in Granada (Figs. 4.31 and 4.32),
or the fronts in apse or the Iranian and Indian ivans        Fig. 4.11. Maghrebi nautical map.
(Fig. 4.33), all of them in full in XIVth century or even

We find no great dimensions and complex geometries
obtained by means of poor materials and without
expensive wooden cradles or shoring. The pointed
shape of the bigger domes, those ones exceeding 10
m in diameter, are the result of the logical process of
superimposing courses, closing them in rings without
losing the stability in every round completed (Fig. 4.34).
In the smaller ones the hemispherical or the flat forms
could be kept thanks to the great thickness that allowed
the drawing of the funicular of its inner loads in a
parabolic or pointed shape.                                  Fig. 4.12. Marble latticework of the Caliphal period.

The Muslim art did not have prejudices against the
geometries respecting certain proportions and, in that
sense, distanced itself in an explicit way from the
historic precedents. It does not seem either that the
designs were conceived as a whole and we can
imagine an intentional accumulation of elements that
avoid analysing the plans as proportional and even
geometrical tracings. For the same reason they could
adapt to unusual plots and reuse previous remains
with no scruples, even destroying and freely
transforming them afterward.

According to chronology, it seems unquestionable that
the Muslim architects were pioneers in using the ribs
as geometry generators and the structure in the dome         Fig. 4.13. Almohade tapestry known as the Banner of Navas
                                                             de Tolosa.
solutions. This brought in a parallel way the pointed
forms, the transverse arches and every sort of folding
and fantasies in the space between ribs.

They introduced too the brick disposition as a structural
value, constructive and ornamental since, in many
cases, it would stay in full view. There are unrepeatable
examples of this, as some previously mentioned or
those found in Christian constructions in territories
conquered to the Muslims (Figs. 4.35 and 4.36).

But these discoveries do not end in this point. We
have already mentioned that a Christian resistance
was opposed to the Islamic expansion that, regarding
architecture, materialised in the recovering of the
classic patterns.                                            Fig. 4.14. Dome of the oratory of the Aljaferia, in Saragossa.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.15. Details of the nine ribbed domes of the Christ of the Light, in Toledo (Velázquez Bosco).

                                                                                                                  The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.16a. Parish church of Our Lady of the Olive in Lebrija, Seville. General view.

Fig. 4.16b. Parish church of Our Lady of the Olive, in Lebrija,      Fig. 4.17. Dome of the Chapel of the Assumption, in the Huel-
Seville. One of its domes.                                           gas Monastery, in Burgos.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.18. Main dome and dome of the presbytery of Saint         Fig. 4.19. Dome in Torrelavega, by Luís Moya (Moya 1956).
Lawrence in Turin, by Guarini.

Fig. 4.20. Room of the Ambassadors dome, in the Alcazar of Seville.

                                                                                          The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.21. Aerial view of the Mosque Aljama, in Isfahan 11th-18th century (Upham Pope).

Fig. 4.22. Starred domes in Isfahan (Upham Pope).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.23a. Southern dome of the Mosque Aljama, in Isfahan       Fig. 4.23b. Northern dome of the Mosque Aljama, in Isfahan
(Upham Pope).                                                    (Upham Pope).

Fig. 4.24. Outside of the hemi dome of the Isfahan north-        Fig. 4.25. Succession of domes in Isfahan (Upham Pope).
western ivan (Upham Pope).

Fig. 4.26. Dome of the northern room    Figs. 4.27a and b. Section and view of the Isfahan northern room dome (Upham Pope).
(Upham Pope).

                                                                                                                 The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.28. Mausoleums of Asuan (Upham Pope).

Fig. 4.29a. Dome of the Mosque of       Fig. 4.29b. Madrasa of Ince Minare, in      Fig. 4.30. Mausoleum of Al-Safi’I, in Cairo
Ardestan (Upham Pope).                  Konya (Upham Pope).                         (Upham Pope).

Fig. 4.31. Dome of the Room of the Two Sisters, in the            Fig. 4.32. Roof of the Pavilion of the Abencerrajes, in the
Alhambra of Granada.                                              Alhambra of Granada.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.33a. Ivan of the Sanctuary of Masjid-i-Jami, in Isfahan.   Fig. 4.33b. South-eastern ivan of the Sanctuary of Masjid-i-
                                                                  Jami, in Isfahan.

Fig. 4.34. Tomb of Oljeitu, in Sultaneia.

Since 800 AD, the Christians built in the Roman way               prejudice to accept Muslim elements and even hire
in the territories bordering with those of their                  their builders.
antagonists. From Aquisgran, with centred plan (Fig.
4.37), to the Asturian Preromanic, with basilical plans           In that moment first appears the Modern and later,
(Fig. 4.38), like advanced Romanic style as Ste Mary              Romanic that introduces the archivolts in the fronts
of Ripoll (Fig. 4.39), there are no concessions but to            similar to the eastern ivans, the transverse arches to
the imitation of the classical style.                             support the cimborrios and the formerets to reinforce
                                                                  the vaults, together with the pilasters, arches, groined
This would last only until the moment when the                    vaults or Roman barrel vaults. Also, the decreasing
balance tips in favour of the Christian side, starting            geometries that link square and octagonal plans and
with the reconquest of the conquered territories. Free            the ribs to build the domes transept. Santiago of
of complexes, the northern architects do not have any             Compostela (Fig. 4.40), as many other cathedrals, is

                                                                                                          The Ribbed Dome

an example of the Romanic that combine all these
elements synthesising the style, a synthesis that will
be repeated with few variations in all the rest of the
examples, showing that willingness to accept
elements from other styles is only the verification of
the structural efficiency not of a mental exchange.

Naturally, this attitude was gradually relaxing, mainly
after the crusades, and the unbelievers were no longer
seen as a culture to exterminate, except in the political
ground. Their cultural superiority at that moment
produced the transformation of western literature,
science, technique and the rest of knowledge,
architecture included. The austere Romanic changed
to be shockingly ostentatious. In this time of splendour,
Cluny competed with Medina Azahara, Byzantium or
Cairo (Fig. 4.41). Its system of square tiled towers, its
domes, its polychromous stones, tapestries,
sculptures, its libraries, workshops, schools,
investigation centres, etc, were the counterpart to
those of Toledo or Cordoba. The extension of its church,
with its endless wood of columns, as that of a mosque,
its very high dome, more powerful than that of the Rock,
shining with sparkles and bells, and its dozens of do-
mes covering the radial chapels were more than a
symbol of the power against Mahoma’s religion, but          Fig. 4.35. Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Torres
the acknowledgement and appropriation of his culture.       del Río in Navarra.

No wonder that discontent and opposition to that
ostentation grew among the most clear-sighted
intellectuals. What was the use of prevailing on the
opposite religion in the most superficial aspects? Why
not attack it from deeper grounds such as spirituality
and rigor?

Islamism was a linear conception, simple, without
contradictions or difficulties, without a past.
Christianity was complex, deep, inaccessible,
contradictory, tormented, and laden with a long history
and a doctrine made up of accumulations, legends,
saints, heresies and councils. There was something
more interesting to obtain of all those circumstances,      Fig. 4.36. Chapel dome of Church of Saint Marine, in Seville.
but the Cluniac monks had hidden it under the

Much has been written about the features that               architects and thinkers, being evident this indissoluble
announced the Gothic style during the Romanic: fan-         dependency in the Gothic rigor.
vaulting, pointed arches. None of them were
determinant for the new style, however evident these        The leap between the Romanic and the Gothic style
elements could be.                                          was not sudden because the Cistercian order made a
                                                            bridge toward simplicity in a still intuitive way. But the
The key consisted in spirituality and on the effort         fact that the abbot Suger of Saint Denis, Saint Abelard
to synthesise the Christian thinking in an order            and Luis VII coincided in time, together with the great
equivalent to that established by the preceding empires     scholastics such as Albert the Great, Saint Buena-
(Ref. 16).                                                  ventura or Saint Thomas of Aquino, resulted in the
                                                            aforementioned renovation, which was based on a few
So architecture and philosophy developed together to        principles:
such extent that the scholasticism and the Gothic
are indissoluble, so that theological literature was        a) The inclusion of light as the soul of the built space.
conceived as an almost architectonic structure and          b) The order and the proportion of the whole, as an
architecture was conceived simultaneously by both              identification of the spiritual power over the chaotic

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                   Fig. 4.39a. Saint Mary in Ripoll. Plan.

Fig. 4.37. Scheme of the Palatine Church, in Aquisgran.

                                                                   Fig. 4.39b. Saint Mary in Ripoll. Outer view.

Fig. 4.38. Scheme of Saint Julian of Prados, in Oviedo (Conant).

   urban mess on which these building were settled.
c) The complete fading of any surface under branches,
   threads and drawings that move architecture further
   away from the classicist temptations.
d) The vegetal analogy by which the building turned
   into a living being with a luxuriant foliage and all
   sorts of living beings crouching in capitals, keys,
   gargoyles, buttresses, altarpieces, choirs and
e) The symbolic transcription in graphical signs of all
   the concepts, resulting in ceiling roses, stained
   glass windows, fretworks and labyrinths.
f) The use of geometry to replace drawing and the
   replacement of proportion by trace.

For all that, Roman or Byzantine architecture was of
no use, and the examples more at hand for inspiration
were the Muslim ones.

Paradoxically, the two opposite and in a certain way
antithetic religions based their architecture upon the
same elements, though obviously with very different                Fig. 4.40. Building perspective of the Cathedral of Santiago de
results.                                                           Compostela (Escrig).

                                                                                                                   The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.41. General plan and perspective of the Monastery of Cluny (Conant).

Fig. 4.42. Interior of the Cathedral of Durham.

                                                                  Fig. 4.44. Cathedral of Laon.

Fig. 4.43. Nôtre Dame of Paris.

The Gothic style is luminous and the Islamic one ig-
nores the light, the former is light and the latter heavy,
one is rationalist and coherent, the other fantasist and
arbitrary.                                                        Fig. 4.46. Vault of the Cathedral of Chartres.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.45. Cathedral of Toledo.                            Fig. 4.48. Vault of the Cathedral of Gloucester.

Fig. 4.47. Vault of the Cathedral of Lincoln.

There is not a scale of values establishing a hierarchy,
but the Gothic style brought to the limit the stress
capacity of the stones and forced gravity with
immaterial effects.                                        Fig. 4.49. Chapel of Saint George, in Windsor Castle.

                                                                                                 The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.50. Chapel of Henry VII, in Westminster Abbey.

If we followed the thread of our text only on the basis   The singular elements of the Gothic style are rather
of the domes, we would find very little material in the   towers than domes, even though these have spiral outer
Gothic style. There would be gigantic cimborrios over     shape as huge cypresses or flames that ascend to
the transepts, delicate chapterhouses in polygonal        heaven.
shape and side chapels with convex coverings carved
in threads. But all this would be embraced by the         Since 1130 AD the Romanic becomes an old fashioned
relentless rhythm of the naves, reaching impossible       style that does not adapt to the new concepts and
heights.                                                  must be substituted.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.51. Interior of the Cathedral of Prague.   Fig. 4.52. Vault of the Church of Annaberg, in Saxony.

Fig. 4.53. Vault of the Cathedral of Segovia.     Fig. 4.54. Vault of the Cathedral of Salamanca.

                                                                         The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.55. Vault of the transept of the Cathedral of Cordoba (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                Fig. 4.57. Chapel of the Constable, in the Cathedral of Burgos.

                                                                Renaissance styles practically the moment they were
                                                                substituted by the Baroque structures. The Cathedrals
Fig. 4.56. Chapel of Our Lady, in the Cathedral of Wells.       of Segovia (Fig. 4.53), Salamanca (Fig. 4.54) and
                                                                Córdoba (Fig. 4.55) are examples of it.

                                                                All these examples refer to cylindrical forms. But if we
In the beginning, the Gothic four parts vaults resulting        focus on concave spaces such as chapels and
from the groined vaults, result in turn in vaults pretty        cimborrios, the richness is even greater.
continuous, as in the case of Durham (Fig. 4.42). But
the side walls of central naves were not coherent with          As for chapels, we highlight some of the most
the squares of side naves.                                      important: those of Our Lady in Wells (Fig.4.56), the
                                                                Constable in Burgos (Fig. 4.57) or the Abbey of Batalha
The moment when the central naves are covered with              in Portugal (Fig. 4.58). In all of them the Islamic
square patterns, we can assume that they adopt the              patterns are evident.
role of inner domes, though to the outside they are
concealed. Nôtre Dame de Paris is one of these first            More variety and innovations offer the cimborrios,
examples of six parts domes (Fig. 4.43), although its           among which the English ones stand out with dramatic
tracing does not relate directly to the different heights       passion. That of Ely, though made of wood, is the
of the arches keys. Leon is a more perfect case of              most spectacular of all (Fig. 4.59), and the result of
this kind (Fig. 4.44). In Toledo, the keys are slightly         suppressing the four main pillars of the transept until
pointed to obtain more convex forms (Fig. 4.45).                getting a polygon 25 m in diameter, whose main
                                                                framework is shown in Fig. 4.60. Heyman (Ref. 12)
But the six parts domes were too irregular and soon             has recently done a study of this structure that we
they were substituted by the four parts ones with a             find interesting to summarise.
proportion 2:1, as in Chartres (Fig. 4.46) or by the
fasciculated ones as in Lincoln (Fig. 4.47).                    Its framework has undergone some transformations
                                                                over the years, since it suffered serious structural
What naturally follows is the multiplication of ribs like       deterioration through being made of wood. In the XVIIIth
a spiders web making the skeleton much more                     century, the architect Essex added some elements
complex. Figs. 4.48 and 4.49 show some stone                    to the point of turning it into the tangle illustrated in
structures that look rather like slender steel bars or          Fig. 4.61. Later on, Walsingham cleared it until getting
huge tropical leaves full of veins (Fig. 4.50), having          the polished result that is shown in the Fig. 4.62
beautiful rectilinear patterns (fig. 4.51) or fanciful curves   diagram.
(Fig. 4.52).
                                                                If we analyse the stability of these structures as a
In Spain they developed the vaults of secondary ribs,           spatial net, we can see that, although they fulfil
which were able to stop the evolution of the imported           Maxwell’s equation (Fig. 4.63):

                                                                                                                     The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.58. Church of the Abbey of Batalha (Stierlin).

                                                                      Fig. 4.59. Octagon of the Cathedral of Ely.

Fig. 4.60. Wooden framework of the Cathedral of Ely octagon

                                                                      Fig. 4.62. Construction sketch of the Cathedral of Ely octagon.
                                                                      The left side is the invention of Essex in 1760 and the right side
Fig. 4.61. Initial design of the Cathedral of Ely octagon (Heyman).   the Walsingham solution.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                      But Maxwell’s equation is a necessary but not
                                                                      sufficient condition. Besides, the bars have to be
                                                                      correctly distributed. In this case they are not and the
                                                                      whole can get deformed as shown in Fig. 4.64. This
                                                                      would not have happened had the polygon been odd
                                                                      sided; but due to a structural paradox, an even number
                                                                      implies serious damage for its behaviour. Therefore,
                                                                      Essex’s work did not have much use, no matter how
                                                                      many bars were added. In addition, the curved wooden
Fig. 4.63. Perspective of the mechanism of the octagon of Ely.        bars indicated underwent some effort due to the
                                                                      supporting of the tower and were unbearable for such
                                                                      a light material. Finally, Gilbert Scott, with less analytic
                                                                      and more technical criteria, got the whole stabilised.
                                                                      His solution consisted of increasing the heavy masonry
                                                                      of the outer circle, in duplicating the number of
                                                                      buttresses and stabilising everything by means of
                                                                      deadweight, what was very suitable against the wind
                                                                      action (Fig. 4.65). Heyman’s text is very detailed and
                                                                      worthwhile consulting.

                                                                      Another impressive cimborrio is that of the Cathedral
                                                                      of Lincoln (Fig. 4.66) which, though having hardly
                                                                      15 m of side, resolves the square plan with this form
                                                                      until its culmination in a typically English solution.

                                                                      The cimborrio of the Cathedral of Burgos is one of the
                                                                      world’s most beautiful, in spite of its reduced
                                                                      dimensions. The elegance of the ornaments and the
                                                                      effects of the ribs make of it a goldsmith’s work (Fig.
Fig. 4.64. Mobility of the mechanism of the octagon of Ely.

                                                                      So many are the examples that for a deeper knowledge
3n = b + 6                                                    [4.1]   of the matter we advise you to resort to the references
                                                                      at the end of this text.
being n the number of knots and b the number of
bars, if                                                              Nevertheless, before ending this section we should
                                                                      mention the Cathedral of Valencia whose dome, though
3n < b + 6                                                    [4.2]   very modest, has some specially valuable features
                                                                      (Fig. 4.68). It too has an octagonal plan, radial ribs
the structure is hyperstatic, and if                                  and a height over the nave that doubles the width. It is
                                                                      a late work, already built by the XVth century. But it
3n > b + 6                                                    [4.3]   does not have steel chains nor buttresses (Fig. 4.69).
                                                                      It was the result of a careful study of the loads and the
the structure is isostatic and there is a lack of bars,               structure that has to conduct them (Fig. 4.70). Tosca
as many as                                                            made the following description of its tracing:

F = 3n – b – 6                                                [4.4]   “Being the octagon ABEN and C the vault plan: draw
                                                                      the diagonals, that cross in the centre C, being these
If the whole is linked to the outside, the number of                  the horizontal traces of the diagonal arches and, at
links “s” can compensate the lacking bars. Therefore                  the same time, their diameters; draw over one of the
                                                                      diagonals, for instance the BF, the pointed arch BGF,
F = 3n – b – 6 – s                                            [4.5]   which centres are B and F, to which should be directed
                                                                      their tensions; over the cornisature and over the HI,
So, in a structure similar to that of Fig. 4.63,                      and the same is to be done in the rest of sides, which
                                                                      arches work like formerets for the vault, being in them
N = 16, b = 24 and s = 24                                             and in the mentioned second body a group of windows
                                                                      similar to that of the first body. On the diagonal arches
And as a result of the equation [4.5] F = – 6                         is built the vault, following the tracing of the arch or
                                                                      formeret HLI, which is made of winding brick and fill
This means that there are 6 extra bars, which is                      the hollows ECA, ACB and C of the diagonal arches,
equivalent to saying that the whole is hyperstatic.                   which vault, being pointed, form in the middle an

                                                                                                                   The Ribbed Dome

                                                                    Fig. 4.68. Transept tower of the Cathedral of Valencia.

Fig. 4.65. Present state of the octagon of Ely outside.

Fig. 4.66. Vault of the cimborrio of the Cathedral of Lincoln.

                                                                    Fig. 4.69. Outside of the transept tower of the Cathedral of

                                                                    Fig. 4.70. Plan and section of the cimborrio of the Cathedral of
Fig. 4.67. Set of nets of the lantern of the Cathedral of Burgos.   Valencia, according to Tosca.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.71. Vault of the Cathedral of Beauvais.

                                                           Fig. 4.72a. Plan by Simón García, copying Gil de Hontañón, of
                                                           a church with fan-vaulting, in Chapter VI, page 18.

Fig. 4.72b. Church of Villascatín, in Segovia, by Gil de   Fig. 4.73. Simón García transcribing Gil de Hontañón.
Hontañón.                                                  Geometrical generation of the plan of a church.

                                                                                                               The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.74a. Simón García transcribing Gil de Hontañón. Chapter   Fig. 4.74b. Gil de Hontañón. Church of the Vine, in Burgos.
II, page 7.                                                      Chapel of the monastery.

Fig. 4.75a. Simón García transcribing Gil de Hontañón. Chapter   Fig. 4.75b. Simón García, Chapter II, page 75. Plan of a church
V, page 12. Plan tracing of a church of large dimensions.        of large dimensions.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 4.75.c. Cathedral of Segovia, by Gil de Hontañón.

entering angle corresponding with the line QC: the        allowed them to advance on the basis of previous
same thing is made in every eighth side, being            projects. In any case, they counted on a firm
concluded the work with much beauty and firmness          knowledge of geometry. But the massive and superfi-
enough, almost without needing an extra abutment,         cial structures that they constructed were too difficult
as I show in the following form:                          until the XVIIIth century.

Firstly, the vault that is placed over the transepts AC   Nevertheless, the Gothic structures had an advantage
and BC and fill the hollow, which plan is the triangle    over any other: they were linear, so that their study
ACB, has enough abutments with the collateral vaults      reduced to that of the balance of forces and loads.
corresponding with the triangles ACE and the one of
the other side; because having such a high point is       Paradoxically, this did not even require some
little its thrust, against which have very enough         knowledge of geometry. It was enough making thread
resistance the aforementioned collateral vaults,          models, models that almost always can be flat, since
singularly when the plan has 6 or 8 sides, or even        Gothic naves or radial chapels can be reduced to the
more”.                                                    study of parallel or polar plans. That is why what in
                                                          the XIXth century was resolved with the help of a static
We wonder how with such poor analytical means as          graphic that demanded skill in drawing, could before
we suppose existed in the Middle Ages, these              be experimented with a thread suspended between
challenges could be assumed with such precision.          two extremes being the springing supports. From that
                                                          point balance was achieved by means of weights, to
We know that the Romans, much more advanced,              get all the forces passing through the interior of
fully trusted the accumulation of experiences that        resistant members. When Gaudi built the Holy Family

                                                                                                             The Ribbed Dome

he did but echo the Gothic tradition that still underlies
that zone of the Mediterranean.

The theory of proof and mistake does not prove
valid in works of such a huge size and as much
investment. Otherwise, it cannot explain that the
great constructions were made without minor
precedents. It is true that there were big disasters,
but they were not proportionally bigger than
those suffered nowadays by perfectly calculated                Fig. 4.76. Name of the elements of a fan-vault.
works. Whoever visits the Cathedral of Beauvais is
impressed by the challenge of those 46 m high and
fully holed naves (Fig. 4.71). It seems as if the
slightest breeze or the minimum earth tremor
could make fade all that glasswork as if it were made
of smoke and, nevertheless, there it is, proud
after having undergone all the disgraces that
the Genesis threw against those ones that wanted
to build a Ziggurat to ascend to heaven. Beauvais
reached 156 m at its highest point and so challenged
arrogantly all its neighbours who attempted to achieve
similar feats in their towers. Its collapsing should
have been considered a fair punishment. But Ulm,
Strasbourg or Colony succeeded in materialising that
challenge in stone, though after waiting for some

In any case, there is no question that the thousands
of Gothic churches and cathedrals resulted in an
exercise of calculation and risk and, as stoneworking
had its own rules that were transmitted without
exceeding the gremial limits, dimensioning too had
some rules that you should not infringe and that gave
sufficient safety coefficients which surprisingly were
not excessive. Maybe between 3 and 5, which in
masonry work is very advisable.

The existence of written treatises on dimensioning,
maybe those written in code, is beyond any hesitation,
but they are but few and little known. The most
important of all is that by Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón, so
complex that it must be a compilation of many

It is worthwhile to spend some time on these
contemporary books of Gothic structures.

The Gil de Hontañón’s manuscript is dated between
1544 and 1554, evidently out of the period we are
                                                               Fig. 4.77. Simón García transcribing Gil de Hontañón. Cap. IV,
studying in this chapter. But, since it is a synthesis of      page 105. Project of tower for the Cathedral of Salamanca.
all the knowledge gathered to the moment, it can be
thought that some centuries ago construction followed
those criteria. Its name is “Treatise of architecture and      For the calculation of the surface of temples, he used
symmetry of the temples” and is exclusively about              demographic criteria. For the tracing, he
dimensioning. Maybe it is the first book about                 simultaneously based on the theories of the classic
structures of history. It consists of three different parts:   proportion as an analogy of human body and the
                                                               systems of the Gothic tradition for the geometrical
a) Calculation of the surface of temples.                      tracing.
b) Establishment of the general tracing.
c) Formulas for the dimensioning of the structural             Fig. 4.72 shows the great resemblance to page 18 of
   elements, pillars, buttresses, vaults and towers.           Chapter VI in Gil de Hontañón’s book to the church of

The Great Structures in Architecture

Villacastin tracing, dating from 1529, as an example
of the proportional tracing that is also illustrated in
Fig. 4.73. Fig. 4.74 shows an outline of the geometrical
tracing of page 7 in Chapter II and its resemblance to
the Church of La Vid in Burgos, dating from 1522. Fig.
4.75 shows the equivalent for a cathedral and its
materialisation in the Cathedral of Segovia.

As for the dimensioning, he based it on the churches
of hall, which always used dome shaped vaults,
following the outline of Fig. 4.76.

The dimensioning rules advised were:

Circular pillars:
       HL A
D                                                      [4.7]
D pillar diameter.
H height of the nave.
L span of the nave.
A length of the stretch.

     2    2                        c
                 ¦N      ;    A
C buttress side.
H buttress height.
ÓN addition of the halves of the ribs that take hold
of the buttress lengths.
A buttress core.                                               Fig. 4.78a. Rule n.1 for the dimensioning of buttresses, according
                                                               to Gil de Hontañón.

Bond-stone arch         L/20.
Transept arch           L/24.
Secondary ribs          L/28.
Arch of shape           L/30.

This is of use if the pillars height equals the span of
the stretch. If it is bigger, this will increase or diminish
in the same proportion. Being a flat vault, this
dimensions should be increased. If the span of the
stretches is different, the media should be used.


Q     P    ¦R ¦S                                      [4.8]

Q weight of the key in quintales (about one hundred            Fig. 4.78b. Drawing of the Rule n.1
P weight of the transepts in quintales.
ÓN length of the sustaining elements in feet.
ÓS length of the sustained elements in feet.                   H height of the tower.
                                                               A width of the tower.
Towers:                                                        E thickness of the wall.
                                                               C thickness of the buttress.
        H               HA            H                       Fig. 4.77 shows the project of the Cathedral of
E              C            A                       [4.9]
        2                2             4                       Salamanca.

                                                                                                                   The Ribbed Dome

Fig. 4.79a. Rule n.2 for the dimensioning of buttresses, according
to Gil de Hontañón.

                                                                     Fig. 4.80. Rule n.3 and its interpretation.

                                                                     Besides, the manuscript spends some time in a se-
                                                                     ries of graphic considerations to the dimension of the
                                                                     buttresses that correspond to different kind of arches,
                                                                     according to certain rules illustrated in Figs. 4.78 [Rule
                                                                     I], 4.79 [Rule II], 4.80 [Rule III] and 4.81 [Rule IV].

                                                                     Rule I is only of use for circular arches, Rule II for
                                                                     flattened ones, Rule III allows the dimensioning of
                                                                     buttresses of variable section, whereas Rule IV is valid
                                                                     for every sort of arch.

                                                                     Since that moment, some other treatises about
                                                                     structural matters have been written, up to the present
                                                                     time. We want to highlight Durand’s rule for the
                                                                     dimensioning of buttresses for every kind of arch, which
Fig. 4.79b. Drawing of the Rule n.2.                                 due to its simplicity was the most used (Fig. 4.82).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                           We may wonder about the precision of these methods
                                           and their justification. The answer is rather complex.
                                           They cannot be disdained as simplifications made by
                                           people who ignored calculation, or magnified as the
                                           elixir of experience. To be true, their dimensions could
                                           have been improved making them depend on the
                                           materials quality and the geographical zones. But in
                                           short, these buildings have survived in spite of disasters
                                           and wars, which cannot be said of some present
                                           constructions dimensioned in the limit.

                                           The ribs based construction was one of the great
                                           discoveries of architecture, and although it was buried
                                           by the builders of the Renaissance, the Baroque and
                                           the classic style, it once again reached a predominant
                                           situation with steel and concrete, making possible
                                           nowadays the largest known structural designs.

Fig. 4.81. Rule n.4.

Fig. 4.82. Rules of Sanabria and Derand.

                                                                                              The Ribbed Dome

                                                                            REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 4

1. ACLAND, J.H. “Medieval Structure: The Gothic            Herrera. E.T.S.A. de Madrid, 1995.
    Vault” University of Toronto Press, 1972.           13.HOAG, J.D. “Rodrigo Gil de Hontañon. Gótico y
2. ADAM, E. “L´Architecture Medievale II”. Petite          Renacimiento en la Arquitectura Española del
    Biblioteque Payot.                                     siglo XVI”. Xarait, Madrid, 1985.
3. BARRUCAND, M. & BEDNORZ, A. “Arquitectu              14.HUERTA, S. “Diseño Estructural de Arcos,
    ra Islámica en Andalucía”. Taschem, 1992.              Bóvedas y Cúpulas en España. 1500-1800”. Tésis
4. CLIFTON - TAYLOR, A. “The Cathedrals of                 no Publicada. ETSA Madrid, 1990.
    England”. Thames & Hudson, 1986.                    15.JIMENEZ MARTIN, A. “El Arte Islámico”. Historia
5. CONANT, K. J. “Arquitectura Carolingia y                del Arte nº 15. HISTORIA 16.
    Románica 800-1200”. Ediciones Cátedra, 1982.        16.MARK, R. “Experiments in Gothic Structure”. MIT
6. DODDS, J.D. “Al-Andalus. Las Artes Islámicas            Press, Cambridge, 1992.
    en España”. Edi. El Viso, 1992.                     17.MICHELL, G. “Architecture of the Islamic World.
7. ESCRIG, F. & PÉREZ VALCARCEL, J.”La Mo                  Its History and Social Meaning”. Thames &
    dernidad del Gótico. Seis puntos de vista sobre        Hudson, 1978.
    la arquitectura medieval”. Servicio de              18.PANOFSKY, E. “A Gothic Architecture and
    Publicaciones de la Universidad de Sevilla, 2004.      Scholasticism”. Latrobe, 1957.
8. ETTINGHAUSEN, R. & GRABAR, O. “Arte y                19.RUIZ DE LA ROSA, J. A. “Traza y Simetría de la
    Arquitectura del Islam 650-1250”.                      Arquitectura”. Universidad de Sevilla. Serie
9. FITCHEN, J. “The construction of Gothic                 Arquitectura nº 10, 1987.
    Cathedrals. A Study of Medieval Vault Erection”.    20.SIMSON, Otto von “The Gothic Catedral. Origins
    Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1967.                   of Gothic Architecture and the medieval concepts
10.GIMPEL, J. “Les Bátisseus de Cathedrales”.              of order”. Princeton Univ. Press, 1956.
    Editions du Seuil, 1961.                            21.UPHAM POPE, A. “Persian Architecture”.
11. GOMEZ RAMOS, R. “La Iglesia de Sta. María              Thames & Hudson, 1965.
    de Sevilla”. Universidad de Sevilla. Arte           22.VIOLLET LE DUC, E. “Entretiens sur
    Hispalense nº 60, 1993.                                l´Architecture” 2 vols. París: A. Morel, 1863-1872.
12.HEYMAN, J. “Teoría, historia y restauración de       23.WILSON, C. “The Gothic Cathedral”. Thames &
    Estructuras de Fábrica”. Instituto Juan de             Hudson, 1992.


While the fiction of the Empire was alive, all over             knowledge of the huge difficulties faced by the great
Europe there was a certain stylistic coherence that             pioneers of new international architecture to see their
materialised in the Romanic and kept on ruling the              works recognised before the end of the First World
architectonical interventions. From England to Sicily           War, which brought a certain stability to the nations'
or from Galicia to Germany, the Roman patterns,                 borders.
reproduced in shafts, capitals, circular arches and
spherical domes, meant an outline of orders and                 But despite its undeniable appeal, the Gothic style
ornaments renowned as classical. This unity survived            did not shake the foundations of the birthplace of
for longer than the Empire itself, in spite of the fact         Classicism. It was impossible for the central zone of
that Charlemagne tried to repromote it under his military       Italy, mainly the regions of Toscana and Campania, to
and moral control. His heritage, torn apart by his              renounce its own culture to join the commotion of the
children who consolidated a systematic confrontation            vegetal architecture. The Classicism had been invented
among the European regions that is still dragging on,           there, had been planned from Rome and had proved
and the economic fact that the Empire was fictitious            able to unify cultures as distant as the Persian and
and that every little portion of its territory had to survive   the Mauritanian. The Italian Romanesque always had
on its own initiatives, extinguished the last embers of         a luminous and tidy appearance that could not be found
that unity. Since that moment, new nationalisms were            in Santiago or in Maguncia. The different orders kept
born, echoing protohistorical periods of legends and            a certain purity and the marble slabs showed a Roman
epic poems free of the influence of the Roman                   cut. In summary, the skill was not lost. In fact, the
dominion.                                                       Eastern Empire survived until the XVth century and
                                                                the permeability was absolute. The Gothic style
The Gothic style was born with a huge strength in the           crossed Italy leaving but a patina of modernity that
North of France and matured with its interventions,             could not conceal the classical substrate. Only the
which seemed impossible given the scant capitalisation          region of Lombardy, always reluctant to join the Empire,
of the cities. This ostentation of autonomic fervour            accepted the new style with a relative conviction.
spread quickly all over a geography that, not having            Venice’s case is different. Venice was a patchwork of
roots of its own, saw in that imaginative style that had        different cultures, gathered thanks to their commercial
no prejudices and was free in its interpretation, a good        vocation. Venice could not be unaware of what was
chance to turn it into its own creation. Despite its            happening elsewhere, since it lived on others’ illusions.
formal unity, its determinist techniques and its similar        It constructed Saint Marcos, a literal copy of the Saint
results, it was possibly understood that the localist           Apostles Church in Constantinople, with a passion
ornaments provided enough freedom to make people                that extended to the building of the sumptuous me-
claim a disconnection of the classic rules, pagan and           dieval palaces and the Renaissance churches of the
oppressive. The Gothic style, despite the many                  initial times.
transformations undergone along the history, can be
traced crouching in periods of political centralism that        The Renaissance, or the Modern Style, as was then
necessarily required again a calling for the imperial           named, wanted too to be a local self-assertion
system until the extinction of those periods. The XIXth         connected to a story that, on this occasion, was
century, shaken by the Napoleonic dominion,                     perfectly documented. Any dusted off classical text
resources, from the literature to the plastic arts, to          was celebrated with great acclaim from the intellectuals
the nationalist dream of the medieval Renaissance.              that were making that national consciousness. In an
The XXth century itself resorts to decorativism in any          opposite way to that proposed in the Middle Ages, in
of its known aspects (Art Noveau, Modernism,                    this case unification did not have a military but an
Secession, etc), while the new nations are taking               economic nature, showing through it the deep
shape and history is being rewritten. It is common              renovation and the knowledge of the control

                                                                      A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

mechanisms. It was a coincidence that in that moment
three giant personages, who were at war among
themselves, had to fight against their own
disintegration. The fact that Charles V, Francisco I
and Henry VIII confirmed in the new style their longing
for universality, facilitated its diffusion. The Renaissance
could have been only a trend, had it not coincided
with that historical moment.

In symmetry, the Eastern Empire had also crumbled
and a tribe of conquerors had succeeded in rebuilding
it with a dimension never seen before. The Ottoman
Empire was forced to straight away invent another uni-
versal style to have under strict control the dispersion
to which tended Egyptians, Persians and Byzantines
sharing the same yoke. It was not necessary to look
for very long. The great works of the VIth century built
by Theodosius were claimed as undeniable                       Fig. 5.1. Saint Vital, in Ravenna (Escrig).
autochthonous precedents. Maybe they were not as
rich as the Islamic filigrees, but their colossal
dimensions matched the magnificence of the Empire.
Finally there was a mixing that nowadays gets us
amazed at its unity, its beauty and its technique. The
Italian Renaissance architects themselves never hid
their admiration for the constructive quality of those
monuments and even Leonardo’s notes show that he
had found in them an inspiration for his proposals.
The Renaissance was no more a western matter. At
the same time, a similar explosion was taking place
in the Far East, as well as some time later in India or
much sooner in Mesoamerica with a culture so
advanced as the Aztec one, unfortunately destroyed
in only a night by a swineherd from Extremadura. Even
in Central Africa there was a phenomenon unthinkable
of in that continent except in the Nile proximity.

When we talk about the Renaissance, we will not refer
to Vitrubio’s resurrection note to the collectors of
ancient pieces of marble. We want to focus on the
necessity of creating a sphere of proposals that are           Fig. 5.2. Saint Lawrence, in Milan (Escrig).
recognisable for their unity and language and that
appeal to precedent Roman constructions.
                                                               together the best artists of the time around him.
In the moment when Florence decided to be the driving          Donatello, della Robia, Massacio and Alberti were his
force behind the classic Renaissance, this city was            fervent admirers. That is why it was a logical decision
not the most powerful in the Italian peninsula. Milan,         to elect him to project and build the most important
Sienna and, of course, Venice were ahead. Neither in           work of the XVth century.
Florence were there old remains to take as a model.
No big works that stimulated the self-esteem had yet           Italy in that moment, as in previous years, was fully
been undertaken. Nevertheless, it was here where that          ready to assume a new important role. In architecture,
national consciousness took shape. May be literature,          the great works kept on being the representative
under Dante’s and Petrarca’s leadership, was the               churches. Pisa had, in the XIIIth century, the most
trigger of the new classicism. In painting it was Giotto       qualified monument, behind the Roman works that
and in sculpture the Pisano’s school. All of them have         survived in the ancient capital city and in Ravenna (Fig.
a medieval background that floats over their great             5.1) or Milan (Fig. 5.2). Its classical ornaments and
innovations. That is why we must set 1400 as the               its two domes would be a reference to imitate until the
magical date in which the decision on the competition          arrival of the Baroque. What was left of the Gothic
to build the doors of the Florence’s Baptistery                period was several churches: Saint Francisco in Asisi
separated the vocations of Ghiberti as a sculptor and          (Fig. 5.3), Saint Petronio in Bologna (Fig. 5.4), Saint
Bunelleschi as an architect. Undoubtedly, the latter           Anthony in Padua (Fig. 5.5) and Saint John and Saint
was superior in both fields and finished drawing               Paul in Venice (Fig. 5.6). The great Gothic works were

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 5.3. Saint Francisco, in Asisi.

                                        Fig. 5.6. Saint John and Saint Paul, in Venice.

                                        to be started very late. The Cathedral of Milan hardly
                                        had got its galleries finished in the XVIth century (Fig.
                                        5.7). In the Monastery of Pavia the great architects of
                                        the XVth century still worked (Fig. 5.8). Only in the
                                        Cathedral of Sienna, finished in the XIVth century, can
                                        we find the perfectly delimited foundations of
                                        Classicism (Fig. 5.9): semicircular arches, pilasters
                                        with Corinthian capitals, transverse arches and a dome
                                        over the three naves by means of resting on an
                                        hexagonal plan (Fig. 5.10). Sienna was an economical
Fig. 5.4. Saint Petronio, in Bologna.
                                        power that could afford that luxury, a counter power to
                                        Florence that tried to do the same but failed, because
                                        Florence also started building a gigantic Duomo under
                                        the leadership of the main sculptor and architect of
                                        the time, Arnolfo of Cambio (Fig. 5.11). Here you could
                                        be amazed at the sight of the Saint John Baptistery,
                                        constructed in the XIIth century, that could be built to
                                        scale on the new church (Fig. 5.12). Thus it was
                                        decided that the shy projected nave would be ended
                                        with a powerful octagonal rotunda and three
                                        counteracting thick arms. The dimension of the walls
                                        is explained by the need of avoiding the serious
                                        variations that started appearing in the ambitious works
                                        of Sienna and even in Giotto’s Campanile, beside Saint
                                        Mary of the Flowers. It is obvious that the failures of
                                        Sienna were seen by the Florentines as successes,
                                        whereas they did not agree about the modifications to
                                        do in Arnolfo’s first works. Since the middle of the
                                        century scale models and proposals followed each
                                        other. The rivalry among the three competing architects
                                        is well known: Talenti, Orcagna and Lapo Ghini. The
                                        final result was decided by a popular vote and was
                                        immortalised in a picture (Fig. 5.13). Being the three
                                        of them, mostly sculptors with little experience in
                                        architecture, it was no surprise that they could not
                                        solve the problem of building an octagonal dome 42 m
                                        in diameter, 50 metres from the floor. To cap it all, the
Fig. 5.5. Saint Anthony, in Padua.      lengthening of the main nave and its conversion from

                                                                    A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

Fig. 5.7. State of the Cathedral of Milan in 1773 (Creve).

                                                             Fig. 5.9. Cathedral of Sienna (Escrig).

Fig. 5.8. Monastery of Pavia (Heindereich and Lotz).
                                                             Fig. 5.10. Cathedral of Sienna (Stierlin).

five modules to four, generated some thrusts stronger        We can think that the genius of Brunelleschi was
than expected, that had to be counteracted with              universally recognised but at that moment he was one
metallic struts (Fig. 5.14).                                 architect among many who competed in Florence doing
                                                             all type of tasks. Brunelleschi, in the confusion of a
We have spent time with these descriptions so far            competition in which nobody proposed a solution of
from the Renaissance period because they lead us to          common sense, elaborated a scale model that
deduce the debt that Brunelleschi owed to the past.          scrupulously respected the image assumed by the
When he won the competition in 1420 he was a                 city reflected in paintings and sculptures, by which it
sculptor with a vast culture who had visited and studied     was remunerated. During three years there was a
the main Roman remains. That is why his first important      continuous debate on the way to close that gigantic
work, the portico for the Hospital of the Innocent, is of    crater located at the top of the church. His ability was
so refined a classical style (Fig. 5.15). Talenti had        demonstrated by being able to show with his model
invented a complete shoring system that was                  that it could be constructed without a wooden cradle.
excessively expensive and the successive master              The silk guild had to trust this architect of hardly forty
builders did not go above the drum, the spring line,         years, although Ghiberty and Battista d´Antonio were
because they did not find a satisfactory solution to         designated to help him.
keep going. The common proposal of Brunelleschi and
Ghiberti was based on two fundamental contributions:         In order to avoid surprises a contract with twelve
the possibility of lifting the drum twelve metres more       clauses was signed to define the shape, the
and the solution of vaulting without wooden cradles. It      constructive materials, the thickness, the number of
was, in that moment, a complete madness that was             ribs and the building systems. This contract probably
based on the knowledge of the Pantheon and the Tem-          reflected Brunelleschi’s own choice. In spite of that,
ple of Minerva Medica, but had to be resolved with a         there is a shortage of information about this phase in
medieval shape and in keeping with the contract              which the works of the cathedral were continued, never
clauses.                                                     seen before for a monument of its dimension. It seems

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 5.11. Superimposition of the former and final projects of
Saint Mary of the Flowers, in Florence (Borsi et alt.).

                                                                  Fig. 5.13. Painting by Andrea Bonaiuti, including the project of
                                                                  Saint Mary of the Flowers chosen by popular consensus.

Fig. 5.12. Saint John Baptistery, in Florence (Escrig).

                                                                  Fig. 5.14. Metallic struts in the nave of Saint Mary of the Flowers.

                                                                  that Brunelleschi, very self-confident and mistrusting
                                                                  his competitors, worked with the maximum of secrecy.
                                                                  The workers themselves had to be lodged in the work
                                                                  place and the plans were destroyed as soon as they
                                                                  were used. If the dome had a basically medieval
                                                                  aspect, also the atmosphere in which it was being
                                                                  built seemed medieval. Therefore, it is not surprising
                                                                  that everything that has been written on the dome is
                                                                  based on suppositions. Maybe Mainstone is the person
                                                                  who has described the difficulties of this work in
                                                                  greatest detail, perhaps because he saw it with an
                                                                  engineer´s eyes.

                                                                  Starting from the knowledge that the dimensions and
                                                                  the shape were imposed, we are going to describe
                                                                  the components and solutions of so singular a work.
Fig. 5.15. Portico of the Hospital of the Innocent, in Florence   In the first place it was built on an octagon 42 metres
(Escrig).                                                         in inscribed diametre, placed 55 metres high from the

                                                                              A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi


Fig. 5.16. Final sketch of the dome of Saint Mary of the Flowers.

                                                                      Fig. 5.18. Sketch of the ribs of Saint Mary of the Flowers (Battisti).
                                                                      Fig. 5.19. Building set of the dome of Saint Mary of the Flowers

Fig. 5.17. Profile tracing of the dome of Saint Mary of the Flowers   (Battisti).

The Great Structures in Architecture

ground, on a drum of 12 metres (Fig. 5.16). The first        breakage or destruction did not affect the dome. But
14 metres were made of stone and the rest of brick,          they had a stabilising role regarding the rheological
reaching a height from the ground of 90 metres. The          and seismic behaviour. Some hypotheses use the
profile is that of the “quinto acuto” pointed arch, which    criterion that the author wanted to build a circular dome
consists of dividing the diametre in five parts and taking   inserted in the octagon and therefore the courses had
the fourth segment as the centre of the curvature (Fig.      to be successively closed so that they acted as
5.17). It results in a cambered form with a slope of 67º     compressing rings. This hypothesis complicates
in the key that turns into 62º because of the existence      immensely the construction method since floating
of an oculo 5 metres in diametre. The dome is formed         centres are needed for the tracing of the surface and,
by eight main ribs of circular tracing, a radius of 36       in addition, the courses are not flat since they are the
metres and 8.8 metres in width and sixteen meridian          result of the intersection of a cone with an elliptical
ribs on the sides with an elliptical tracing 1.3 metres      cylinder (Fig. 5.21). However complicated this
in width (Fig. 5.18). In addition, there are 9 parallels     hypothesis could be, it has prevailed over the other as
that together with those in the base and the crowning        the official one. With respect to the masonry, the
make up a very rigid space reticule. All that is             workers must have been placed on climbing scaffolds
complemented with two laminar sheets of cylindrical          to lay the bricks. On the outside, with a thickness of
tracing, an inner one of 2.20 metres and another             0.73 metres, as well as in the interior, with a thickness
external of 0.73 metres, with a gap between them of          of 2.2 metres, where these scaffolds would advance
5.17 metres (Fig. 5.19). All this results in a weight of     hanging on the void (Fig. 5.22), anyone will find it very
about 7 tonnes per square metre of dome unevenly             difficult to explain how the big bricks could be properly
distributed. The total weight of the structure is 20,000     laid. The most admissible hypothesis is the simplest
tonnes.                                                      and has been described in one of my previous works.

The merit of Brunelleschi consisted of constructing it       It is documented that for the construction Brunelleschi
without the aid of wooden cradles nor shoring. Never         levelled the sandy area around the Arno to make the
before had a building of these dimensions been               working tracing and to measure to life-size scale. Few
constructed in that way. And he could not have known         could interpret those lines drawn with lime on the
of other smaller domes, such as that of the Treasure         ground and the wooden stakes, except for the author
of Atreo, that were made by means of courses, or             and his collaborators. If the author wanted to keep
some of the Eastern constructions, so he was forced          secret his method he succeeded since nobody could
to use the knowledge of the Gothic techniques that           find it out later. From the life-sized drawing he drew
did have a solution for these problems. If only the ribs     the curves of the formerets that were going to be the
were sustained by a framework, the rest could rest on        framework for one of the ribs. Having a constant radius,
them. But in this case the ribs were excessively high        he only had to make sections of a easy-to-use length
and too heavy. We know that in the years previous to         and place them in their point, verifying their geometry
the building order, the architect had been in Rome           from platforms at the height of the drum crowning (Fig.
studying the classic remains. From the Pantheon he           5.23). That way the ribs could be made with a gradual
learned the value of the ribbings to lighten the weight      increase of height and a radial tracing of the brick
of the whole, from the Domus Aurea how to solve an           courses. By means of the level, the points at the same
octagonal dome, from the Temple of Minerva Medica            height could be linked to the horizontal brick courses,
how to turn an octagonal plan into a circular one and        placing in the established intervals the reinforcements
how to insert ribbings in its interior to make the           of the inner ribs to link the two sheets. The bricks of
interspersing of masonry in between easier. From the         these two shells must logically be horizontal since
Caracalla Thermae he learned the techniques of               there is no simple geometric method to draw them up
massive construction and the advance of courses. We          radially. And after all, what Brunelleschi was
must take into account though that Florence had              constructing was a Gothic dome of ribbings (Fig. 5.24),
contacts with Eastern artists due to the commercial          that is to say following the patterns established by
exchange, and it was possible that some craftsmen            the authors of the previous century tracing. But still
had moved to Tuscany to enjoy its temperate climate          there are other advantages. On this work, four metres
and its standard of living; the disposition of the bricks    thick in the base and rather thicker in the key, along
in the dome was too similar to that of the old Eastern       its horizontal cut the workers could walk and do their
Empire. The fact of using a pointed profile helped much      task at the level of their hands without having to crouch
in the solution, once loaded with a heavy lantern.           or use sawhorses (Fig. 5.25). This is the most effective
                                                             form to make good use of the possibilities of the
Nevertheless, we can only conjecture about the               construction.
following procedures. The first 8 metres, made of stone
did not cause problems. They practically continued           What is more, at the edges, all kinds of safety
the drum and were used to intersperse all kind of            elements could be placed as handrails or similar. The
horizontal tying elements (Fig. 5.20): building stones       accidents during this work are not documented, most
with metallic staples, wood belts, metallic bars. Their      possibly because they were very few. The materials
effectiveness is in question when we consider that their     would be lifted by means of machines fixed to the

                                                                      A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

Fig. 5.21. Building progress of the dome of Saint Mary of the
Flowers, according to the floating centres hypothesis
(Borsi et al.).

corbels that perforated the dome and were used later
in the rendering and in the tile roof. There is evidence
of the ability of the authors of the work to invent
mechanisms because nowadays some of them are
still in the Duomo Museum (Fig. 5.26). Along the first
few metres the stability of the whole would not depend
on the collaboration of all the parts, but as this became
necessary the courses would be closed before
advancing to the following. The mortar used at the time,
with a thickness of up to five centimetres took much
time to harden, this made it a necessity to advance in
horizontal layers instead of vertically in order to be
able to walk along the previous layers. The period of
one week calculated by some historians to place a
brick course all around the octagon must be lengthened
due to the more than eight courses that had to be laid
to reach the height of the workers waist. This would
mean that they could spend two months walking over
previous courses.

As for the structural behaviour, much has been said
about the thrusts produced in the different rings. If the
profile had been hemispheric, there would have been
tractions in the base greater than those that could
have been absorbed by the brick and the mortar (Fig.
5.27). Having been pointed, that proportion produces
compressions in all the mass. All this would happen             Fig. 5.22. Hypothetical scaffolding system of the dome of Saint
with a circular plan. As the plan was octagonal, the            Mary of the Flowers (Battisti).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 5.23. Building proposal by the author (Escrig).        Fig. 5.26. Winch in a drawing by Francisco de Giorgio (Battisti).

                                                            edges of the cylindrical sheets resulted in an arch like
                                                            behaviour of the great corner ribs. Finally we have
                                                            returned to the calculation of the whole like that of a
                                                            dome with eight ribs propped up in the key. The stability
                                                            of the whole is based on the behaviour of those Gothic
                                                            ribbings. If these do not move the stability of the whole
                                                            is not in danger. Much importance has been attached
                                                            to the spring bundles, among other things because
                                                            they were mentioned in the contract and were in fact
                                                            made. About this matter several theories have been
                                                            formulated too:

                                                            a) A first theory says that these elements are traction
                                                            rings compensating the outward thrusts. Not having a
                                                            circular plan, this is not true and the curving disposition
                                                            that appears in so many plans of the base can perfectly
                                                            have been invented. In order to rigidise the traction on
                                                            a straight element, a curved cable makes the result
                                                            worse because it introduces flexions.

                                                            b) A second one says that they play a checking role
                                                            for the whole working. Before the dome is damaged,
                                                            these controllers would break. These were expensive
                                                            controllers that could have been substituted by a sim-
                                                            ple rope.
Fig. 5.24. Ribs according to Salvadori (Escrig).
                                                            c) A third theory says that they serve to stabilise each
                                                            one of the stretches that, due to their complicated
                                                            network of ribs and internal arches, also undergo hori-
                                                            zontal thrusts. In this case they have to be necessarily

                                                            d) A fourth one simply says that they do not serve for
                                                            anything and can even be detrimental because they
                                                            force to behave as a whole something that has to have
                                                            a certain independence.

                                                            e) We put forward another theory that is not in the
                                                            bibliography. The bundles were in the contract and
                                                            they were to be placed in the beginning of the works,
Fig. 5.25. Hypothetical climbing way without scaffolding,
                                                            when Brunelleschi still did not have enough prestige
according to the author (Escrig).                           to change the criteria of the contractors.

                                                                           A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

                                                                     From Leonardo to Fontana, including Michelangelo,
                                                                     many gave their opinion, although nobody did anything
                                                                     to prevent them. The studies of Blasi demonstrate that
                                                                     the evolution of them have much to do with the
                                                                     temperature changes (Fig. 5.31).

                                                                     Another important aspect is the fish bone disposition
                                                                     that confirms that the Eastern techniques of
                                                                     construction, absolutely ignored or at least not used
                                                                     by the westerners, were known then(Figs. 5.32 and
                                                                     5.33). As we have already mentioned, Brunelleschi
                                                                     must have known them well, since there are many
                                                                     similarities with works placed along the route of the
                                                                     caravans. Mainstone mentions the Oljeitu Mausoleum
Fig. 5.27. Tractions in the base of the dome of Saint Mary of the
Flowers, in the hemispherical and pointed hypotheses (Escrig).       for its great resemblance and for being dated at the
                                                                     beginning of the XIVth century: octagonal plan, pointed
                                                                     brick dome, double skin linked by ribs and a great
                                                                     dimension (a crowning 54 m high, 24 m in diametre
                                                                     and the same “quinto acuto”). Too many chances to
                                                                     have been discovered separately (Fig. 5.34). The fish
                                                                     bone disposition would be used in practically all later
                                                                     brick works (Figs. 5.35 and 5.36) and even in some of
                                                                     the stonework (Fig. 5.37) until the systematic
                                                                     application of the chambered domes of Byzantine

                                                                     Considering the importance attributed to the great
                                                                     dome as the architectonical beginning of the
                                                                     Renaissance, we have given enough hints as to its
                                                                     lineage and position as a landmark and the culmination
                                                                     of the medieval proposals. The cathedrals of Milan and
                                                                     Pavia tried to emulate what presumably was the
                                                                     recovery of the monumental Gothic. Fortunately,
                                                                     Brunelleschi surpassed what could have been only a
                                                                     technical challenge and began to design with great
                                                                     rigor and modesty other works in which the
                                                                     technological challenge did not exist but that set out
Fig. 5.28. Present cracking state of the dome of Saint Mary of the
Flowers (Borsi et al.).
                                                                     an intellectual adventure. Nevertheless, in the
                                                                     resolution of other smaller domes he always used
                                                                     ribbings except for those with circular profile. The
                                                                     solution of the Old Chapel of Saint Lawrence is similar
In practice we can see that the cracking that appeared               to that of Sergio and Baco in Constantinople, apart
in the centre of the stretchers and in the joining with              from the fact that it has twelve ribbings instead of
the ribs confirms the most sceptical hypotheses (Fig.                sixteen (Fig. 5.38). The new aspects were the
5.28). Each rib works at this moment in an independent               ornaments and an order that, from then on would be
way, however it was as the initial planning. The                     common place. The existence of the four horizontal
analytical verifications that have been done by every                levels is clearly evident. The first one, that of the naves,
investigator are interested in their own hypotheses and              the second one, on the first cornice, that of the
tend to demonstrate them. Thus the calculation by                    transverse arches, the third one that of the drum,
finite elements of Kato, who considers the masonry a                 replaced here by sectioned plans of the dome, and
homogenous and continuous material. Out of this                      the fourth one that of the dome (Fig. 5.39).
calculation we deduce that the traction in the base of
the whole barely reaches 1 tonne, a practically                      In the Pazzi Chapel, with a similar technique, he
insignificant one (Fig. 5.29). The same author also                  timidly sets a Greek cross plan (Fig. 5.40). In the
analyses the advantages of the pointing and comes                    churches of Saint Lawrence (Fig. 5.41) and Holy Spirit
to the conclusion that the “quinto acuto” used is the                (Fig. 5.42) he perfected the basilical plan until giving it
ideal combination between its own weight and the                     the invariable features that have survived to date as
displacement in the base (Fig. 5.30).                                examples of religious architecture. It cannot be said
                                                                     that these were technical adventures, but they
The large amount of writing generated by those cracks                emphasised proportion, therefore putting an end to the
is amazing, in contrast to the few on the construction.              geometrical style of the Gothic.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 5.29. Analysis by Finite Elements of the Dome of Saint Mary of the Flowers (Aoki and Kato).

                                                                    A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

Fig. 5.30. Analysis of different shapes for the same dome (Aoki).

Fig. 5.31. Present dome cracking (Blasi and Mark).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Brunelleschi would still do new contributions in his
approach to classicism, renewing the contributions
about the temples of circular plan. Saint Mary of the
Angels recovered the thermal type of the paleochristian
baptisteries and opened a fruitful new path in the
following years (Fig. 5.43). It seems that it was Alberti
who suggested to him to leave the square and take
the compass. The proposals to extend and enlarge
innumerable churches spread all over Italy would be
born here. Michelozzo in SS. Anunciata crowns a
basilical nave with a rotunda identical to that of the
Temple of Medical Minerva (Fig. 5.44). Alberti in Saint
Francisco of Rimimi (Fig. 5.45), never finished as
shown in the medal of Mateo of Pasti (Fig. 5.46), tries
to crown a new temple with another gigantic rotunda.
Bramante does the same thing in Saint Mary of the
Grace in Milan, with 20 m in diameter (Fig. 5.47).

                                                              Fig. 5.34a. Oljeitu Mausoleum, in Iran (Escrig).

Fig. 5.32. Drawing by Antonio de Sangallo the Young, of the
dome fish bone disposition.

                                                              Fig. 5.31b. Structure of the dome of the Oljeitu Mausoleum
Fig. 5.33. Fish bone disposition in Isfahan (Upham Pope).

                                                                             A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

Fig. 5.35. Fish bone building of a Vatican room (Souza, not

                                                                      Fig. 5.36. Drawing by Antonio de Sangallo the Young of
                                                                      a minor dome for Saint Peter’s, built in fish bone

Fig. 5.37. Dome of the chapel of the Anet castle, built by Philibert de l’Orme in 1549 (Blunt).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Saint Mary of the Flowers would be the new incentive
for the new great transept domes: Saint Petronio in
Bologna, not finished (Fig. 5.48), the Cathedral of Pavia,
with the intervention of Bramante (Fig. 5.49) and the
Cathedral of Milan, by Francisco de Giorgio (Fig. 5.50)
from previous drawings by Leonardo (Fig. 5.51).

Also Alberti had opened the doors to a new model,
the Greek cross plan, this time perfectly defined, in
which the building is projected in a pyramidal shape
towards the pinnacle of the dome. Saint Sebastian in
Mantua, with a dome 17 m in diametre that collapsed
just after being constructed (Fig. 5.52), or Santa Maria
delle Carcerei in Prato, by Giuliano de San Gallo, are
the quattrocentist prototypes of this proposal made
by Brunelleschi.

Very usually Leonardo has been considered an
innovator for having proposed the bubbles plans (Fig.
5.54). But the complexity of these designs hindered
the clarity that the new style looked for. On the other        Fig. 5.38. Old chapel of Saint Lawrence, in Florence (Battisti).
hand, the characteristic impatience of the inventor
made him leave any project that required much time
and he was never able to go beyond the paper stage
in architecture. Nevertheless, the most gifted architect
of the transition the XVth century, Bramante, had taken
everything that had been done, said or drawn and would
open the full Renaissance in its entire splendour.

At the end of the XVth century the ideal synthesis had
been reached on the basis of some principles
objectively enunciated:

a) Reinvention of Classicism having as a reference
the Roman times.

b) Elaboration of a formal language usable as a uni-
versal language with strict rules of application.

c) Definition of a catalogue of basic models to be used
according to their function.

d) Recovery of a technology alternative to the Gothic
based on the wall and not in the rib.

e) Importance of the introduction of urban-planning and
definition of the urban space from architectonic

To get all this, the synthesis of all the plastic arts, the
valuation of the drawing and the perspective for their
character of virtual definition of the work to construct,
and the rising of the artist to the rank of an intellectual,
were counted on.                                               Fig. 5.39. Axonometry of the old chapel of Saint Lawrence, in
                                                               Florence (Heindenreich and Lotz).
In the Renaissance buildings we are going to find
certain constant elements that make them easy to
                                                               2) Focality. Of a longitudinal type towards the back of
1) The unity of the building. This is something that           the nave, of a central type towards an inner point or of
defines the Agrippa Pantheon and that is not repeated          a vertical type towards the key of the dome by where
until the Shrine of Saint Peter in Montorio.                   a flood of light can enter.

                                                               A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

                                                        Fig. 5.41. Church of Saint Lawrence, in Florence (Heindenreich
                                                        and Lotz).

Fig. 5.40. Pazzi Chapel, in Florence (Borsi et alt.).   Fig. 5.42. Holy Spirit Church, in Florence (Stierlin).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 5.43a. Drawing by Brunelleschi for Saint Mary of the Flowers,   Fig. 5.43b. Drawing by Leonardo of Saint Mary of the Flowers.
in Florence.

Fig. 5.44. Proposal by Michelozzo for the extension of the Anunciata chapel, in Florence (Heindenreich and Lotz).

Fig. 5.45. Work of Alberti in Saint Francisco, in Rimimi (Heindenreich and Lotz).

                                                                      A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

Fig. 5.46. Alberti’s project for Saint Francisco, in Rimimi.   Fig. 5.47. Saint Mary of the Grace, in Milan (Escrig).

3) Luminosity. In spite of the wall based structure, the       The structural and functional advantages of these types
constructive systems allow the opening of great                are the following:
hollows in the high parts of the naves and drums.
                                                               Longitudinal Type:
4) The domed ending as an essential element for the
control of the inner space and for the identification of       - Hall plan with buttresses embedded between the
this from the outside. The dome recovers the oculos,             lateral chapels.
lost in the Gothic style, which is ended by a lantern.         - Barrel vault in the main nave with lunettes that
                                                                 concentrate the loads on the pilasters.
5) Modulation, that is used in the ground plan and in          - Perfect buttressing of the dome with hardly any need
the elevation and replaces the regulating plan of the            for additional reinforcement of the supports.
Gothic. The orders are of use for the signalling of the        - Use of low quality materials.
modules.                                                       - Illumination at several levels.
This means in practice three types with many variants          - Continuity of the outside order towards the interior.
that Brunelleschi constructed as if he was writing a           - Transverse arches connected with the masonry.
treatise on architecture in a stone similar to that written
                                                               Greek cross type:
in paper by Alberti: a longitudinal plan as that of Holy
Spirit, a Greek cross plan as that of the Pazzi Chapel         - Descending balance of the loads with no need of
and a circular plan in Saint Mary of the Angels.                 buttresses.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                 Fig. 5.49a. Cathedral of Pavia (Stierlin).

                                                                 Fig. 5.49b. Model of the Cathedral of Pavia .

Fig. 5.48. Peruzzi’s proposal for Saint Petronio, in Bologna .

- Planned as an autonomous urban element and as a
  unitary inner space.
- It allows an organic growth in draughtboard form, in
  the cases where the space unity is turned down.
Circular type:
- It is a highly symbolical form except for the Christian
  faith that finds in it an excess of Christian references.
- It has many structural advantages when buttressing             One of the features of the Italian Renaissance is the
  on or linking.                                                 absence of towers that destroy or hide the unity of the
- It allows implementation of the old or Eastern                 whole. The high domes replace them. This feature can
  constructive systems.                                          not be extrapolated to other regions.

                                                                            A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

Fig. 5.50. Proposal by Francisco Giorgio for the cimborrio of the Cathedral of Milan (Pedretti).

Fig. 5.51. Leonardo’s sketching for the cimborrio of the Cathedral
of Milan.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 5.52. Alberti’s project for Saint Sebastian, in Mantua (Heindenreich and Lotz).

Fig. 5.53. Saint Mary of the Imprisoned in Prato, by Giuliano de Sangallo (Escrig).

                                                                        A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

Fig. 5.54a, b, c and d. Bubbles domes for centralised plan proposed by Leonardo.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 5.54e, f, g and h. Bubbles domes for centralised plan proposed
by Leonardo.

Fig. 5.55. Bubbles domes for longitudinal plan proposed by            Fig. 5.56. Dome sketches for the Milan Duomo by Leonardo.

                                                                    A Planified Revenge. Under the Shadow of Brunelleschi

                                                                                    REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 5

1. AOKI, T., KIDAKA, K. & KATO, S. "Structural                   Italia 1400-1600”. Manuales Arte Cátedra, Madrid.
    Stability and profile in the Dome of Sta. Mª del Fiore.   13.KATO, S., HIDAKA, K. & AOKI, T. "Structural Role
    Florence". STREMA. Computational Mechanics                   of the wooden ring of the dome of STA. Mª del Fiore
    Pub., Southampton.                                           in Florence". IASS Symposium 1988, Istanbul.
2. ARGAN,G.C. “Brunelleschi”.Electa.                          14.KLOTZ, H. “Filipo Brunelleschi: The early works
3. BENEVOLO, L. “Historia de la Arquitectura del                 and the medieval tradition”. Academy Ed, London.
    Renacimiento”. Taurus, Madrid.                            15.MAINSTONE, R. “Structure in Architecture: History,
4. BLASI, C. & GUSELLA, V. "Historical evolution of              Design and Innovation”. Ashgate Publishing Ltd,
    the Cracks of the Brunelleschi´s Dome in Florence:           U.K.
    Experimental Data Analysis and Numerical                  16.MARK, R. “Architectural Technology”. MIT Press,
    Structural Model". Computational Mechanics                   Cambridge, Mass.
    Publications, Southampton.                                17.MILLON, H.A. & MAGNANO, V. “The Renaissance:
5. BORSI, F. “Leon Batista Alberti”. Electa, Milan.              from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo: The
6. BORSI. "Filipo Brunelleschi: 1377-1446. La                    representation of Architecture”. Thames and
    naisance de l´architecture moderne". L´Equerre,              Hudson.
    Paris.                                                    18.MURRAY, “The outline of the Italian Renaissance”.
7. BULGARELLI. “All´ombra delle volte: architettura              London.
    del quatrocento a Firence e Venecia”. Electa,             19.PEDRETTI, C. “Leonardo Architetto”. Electa, Milan.
    Milano.                                                   20.PRAGER, F. & SCAGLIA,G. “Brunelleschi: Studies
8. CABLE, C. "Brunelleschi and his perspective                   of his technology and inventions”. MIT Press,
    panels". Vance Bibliographies, Monticello.                   Cambridge, Mass.
9. CASTEX, J. "Renacimiento, Barroco y Clasicismo".           21.ROSSI, P.A. “Le Coupole del Brunelleschi”.
    Hª de la Arquitectura 1420-1720”. AKAL, Madrid.              Bologna,
10.DOUMATO, L. "Filippo brunelleschi". Vance                  22.SAALMAN, H. "Filipo Brunelleschi. The Coupola
    Bibliography, Monticello.                                    of Sta. Mª del Fiore". London.
11. FANELLI, G. "Brunelleschi". Scala, Firence.               23.SALVADORI, M. “Why Buildings stand up”.
12.HEIDENREICH, L.H. & LOTZ, W. “Arquitectura en                 Norton, N.Y.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                            Chapter 6. THE CENTURY OF THE GREAT ARCHITECTS

Brunelleschi and Alberti had placed architecture on a          was finished in the Holy Year 1475. But it was Julio II,
level that only required enough wealthy patrons and            who after his arrival to the pontifical throne in 1503,
experienced architects. Both circumstances happened            fully changed the planning. Although his personal
to to be found together in the dawn of the XVIth century       architect was Giuliano de Sangallo, the order was
in the times of their great successors: Bramante,              made to Donato Bramante, an experienced architect
Michelangelo, Vignola and Palladio.                            but with almost no work built in Rome; it is curious
                                                               that his most remarkable piece has a minimum
As for the patrons, Rome had again become the capital          dimension: a shrine.
of the Christian world after the return of the Pope from
Avignon and his pretension to turn it into the greatest        This Tempieto of Saint Peter in Montorio is the
city of the known world. Alberti convinced Nicolas V of        paradigm of the new classic perfection. Belonging to
the the idea that the choir begun by Rosellino behind          the Doric order, placed on a peristyle rotunda and
the old basilica of Saint Peter, lacked the greatness          covered with a hemispheric dome, it was an exercise
that the initiative of the construction of the new temple      of formal precision that could only be built in the
of Salomón exiged (Fig. 6.1). Nonetheless, this                dimension of a small model (Fig. 6.2). All the
initiative did not succeed because his successor, Pablo        architecture of the Renaissance can be found in this
II, insisted on continuing the same project so that it         small piece.

Fig.6.1. Rosellino’s project for the Basilica of Saint Peter   Fig. 6.2. Bramante’s projecto for the Shrine of Saint Peter in
(Millon and Magnano).                                          Montorio (Millon and Magnano).

                                                                                         The Century of the Great Architects

Fig. 6.3. Bramante’s drawing of the Saint Peter’s project   Fig. 6.5. Fra Giocondo’s project for Saint Peter’s (Thoenes).
adaptation to the pre-existing construction (Thoenes).

                                                            When he received the order to continue the building of
                                                            the great basilica he was therefore an artist who had
                                                            earned the respect of people even greater than that
                                                            earned by his teachers. His problem was that he had
                                                            to start off from a plan that gave shape to his own plan
                                                            and from a pre-existing building that indicated the axis.
                                                            In his hand dated drawing dating from 1505, we see at
                                                            the same time the plan of the former Saint Peter, the
                                                            part constructed by Rosellino and his first idea of
                                                            adaptation to the pre-existing construction (Fig. 6.3).
                                                            Contrary to what is the traditional opinion, Bramante
                                                            never had the idea of constructing a temple of Greek
                                                            plan, not even of making use of some of Leonardo’s
                                                            proposals; he proposed to spin the plan ninety degrees.
                                                            But his 1506 project is well represented by the innu-
                                                            merable drawings of his assistant Peruzzi. There is
                                                            no doubt about the fact that Giuliano of Sangallo, his
                                                            competitor, tried an alternative proposal of a centralised
                                                            plan based on Bramante (Fig. 6.4), whereas Fra
                                                            Giocondo showed a clear preference for a basilical
                                                            one (Fig. 6.5).

                                                            The great contribution of Bramante, which all the
                                                            alternative proposals would conserve, was to bevel the
Fig. 6.4. Sangallo’s project for Saint Peter’s (Thoenes).   hard corners of the part constructed by Rosellino to

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                Fig. 6.7. Parchment plan solving the rear part of Bramante’s
                                                                project, in composition with a Peruzzi’s elevation (composed
                                                                by Escrig).
Fig. 6.6. Foellbach’s hypothesis of Bramante’s second project
adapted to the the paleochristian plan and to that built by
Rosellino (Millon and Magnano).

extend the size of the dome and thus give it a diameter
equivalent to the three naves, as had been done in
Florence and Pavia. That, and the idea of making some
projected pendentives of a spherical trapeze type, are
already found in the first outlines of Fig. 6.3. The project
is so reasonable and perfectly adapted to the plan of
the paleochristian basilica, as much in width as in
length, as is shown in the Foellbach hypothesis (Fig.
6.6). The plan in parchment (Fig. 6.7) seems to be the
last attempt to establish the definitive plan of the back
part. Whereas the medal of Caradoso illustrates the
dome concept (Fig. 6.8), maybe on the basis of a
proposal that has not reached our times and that we
know thanks to an idealisation by Serlio (Fig. 6.9)
which makes good use of the parchment plan to make
it equivalent to Giuliano’s proposal.

There are no surviving important plans of Bramante’s
project, all we know is that he wanted to crown the
basilica with a hemispheric dome identical to that of
the Pantheon. For that, his effort was aimed at the
creation of a base, firm enough to support the gigantic
thrusts that were supposed to be generated. Fig. 6.10
illustrates in a disordered way this attempt in
Bramante’s drawing and Fig. 6.11a and b, the aspect             Fig. 6.8. Caradoso’s medal of the prior solution (Lotz).

                                                                                               The Century of the Great Architects

Fig. 6.9. Serlio’s interpretation of Bramante’s dome (Kraus).

                                                                 Fig. 6.11a. Drawing by Bramante of the dome support (Thoenes).
                                                                 b. Evolution of the shape of the great pillars in the Saint Peter’s
                                                                 successive projects for the transept: Bramante, Peruzzi, Rafael
                                                                 and Michelangelo (Bruschi).

                                                                 architects who followed him, disciples or admirers of
                                                                 the teacher, made the necessary changes to make
                                                                 possible his great dream (Fig. 6.11c). Giuliano, Rafael
                                                                 or Peruzzi reinforced the main pillars and consolidated
                                                                 the basilical plan (Figs. 6.12, 6.13 and 6.14). Antonio
                                                                 of Sangallo inherited the direction of works at the death
                                                                 of Rafael in 1520, and during ten years he elaborated
                                                                 for the first time a complete and unitary project to solve
                                                                 the difficulties of a dome that nobody had dared to
                                                                 design. The drawing by Scorel illustrates the state of
                                                                 works at this moment (Fig. 6.15), whereas those by
                                                                 Heemskerck, the state in 1532 (Fig. 6.16).
                                                                 The ambitious work advanced slowly in the middle of
Fig. 6.10. Bramante’s approaching to the final plan (Thoenes).   a succession of different popes, changing architects,
                                                                 political and religious problems and changes of ideas.
                                                                 In 1520, Lutero was excommunicated for preaching
of what he tried to do. Nevertheless he had great                against the simoniacal uses of Church, the financing
problems in respect of this aspect, and it was naturally         of the works of the Vatican being a main objective of
Michelangelo, permanently in conflict with him, who              those. In 1527, the sacking of Rome was made by the
revealed the cracks that appeared in the great pillars           armies that defended the religion. In 1529 Soleiman
of the transept as they rose. Bramante died in 1514,             laid siege to Vienna after Belgrade had already fallen.
just a year after a Florentine pope, Leon X, and the             It is no wonder that between 1521 and 1534 the works

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 6.12. Giuliano de Sangallo’s project to continue Bramante’s
work (Millon and Magnano).

                                                                   Fig. 6.14. Peruzzi’s project to continue Bramante’s work

Fig. 6.13. Rafael’s project to continue Bramante’s work (Lotz).    Fig. 6.15. Drawing by Scorel of the state of the vatican works
                                                                   in 1520 (Lotz).

practically stopped. The only thing that Sangallo could            bell towers was finished, summarising thus
do was to study the problem, to take notes and to                  Bramante’s ideal that a church had to be preceded by
prepare itself for better moments. Meanwhile the Italian           two towers. Although it was only 12 m in diameter, it
architectonic panorama had much changed. The                       was the first great dome finished in the XVIth century.
examples of Bramante and Alberti had many followers                Rafael, in addition to the Chigi Chapel, had already
and the temples of central plan are the alternative trend          experimented with Alberti’s scheme in Saint Eligio,
to the basilical plans. Cola of Caprarola began the                on a plan by Salustio Peruzi (Fig. 6.19), though with a
Church of the Consolation in Todi in 1508, although                minimum dimension of hardly eight metres. Bernardino
the cupola was not started until 1568 and was not                  Zaccagni began the Madonna della Stacata in Parma
finished until 1606 (Fig. 6.17). Its 15 m in diameter              in 1521, a symbiosis between the last two models,
and its unitary space confer on it a moving inner                  since it combined the cylindrical tubes with apsidal
spatiality. Antonio of Sangallo the Old began the                  conoidal vaults and he even left planned four towers
Chapel of the Madona of Saint Biagio in Montepulciano              framing the dome (Fig. 6.20) or four cupolas instead.
in 1518, which was built quickly and finished in 1529              Although it only had a 14 m span, it was too big a
(Fig. 6.18). In 1564 the only one of its two projected             work for that architect, who was replaced by Sangallo,

                                                                                           The Century of the Great Architects

                                                              Fig. 6.17. Church of the Consolation in Todi, by Cola of
                                                              Caprarola (Escrig).

Fig. 6.16. Drawings by Heemskerch of the state of the works   Fig. 6.18. Chapel of the Madona in Biagio, by Antonio of
in 1532 (Millon and Magnano).                                 Sangallo the Old (Tafuri).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 6.19. Drawings by Rafael for the Church of Saint Eligi

Fig. 6.20. Madona della Stacata in Parma, by Bernardino Zacagnii   Fig. 6.21. Madona della Campagna in Piacenza, by Tramello
(Escrig).                                                          (Lotz) (Escrig).

                                                                                                   The Century of the Great Architects

Tramello and Corregio. In 1531 the work must have                  Roman temple, and for reasons that have not been
been very advanced since Parmigianino was asked to                 clarified, although it seems that the stability of the
paint the dome. Tramello began the Madonna of                      ground had an influence on the decision, the Florentine
Campaña in 1522 (Fig. 6.21), that repeats the previous             pope Leon X put out that model to a tender to build the
model but replaces the conoidal vaults with sections               church of Saint John of the Florentines in Rome, in
of cylindrical vault and really materialises the corner            which Rafael, Sangallo the Young, Peruzzi, Julio
domes. In this case it was a Nordic decorative model,              Romano, Vignola and Sansovino took part, the last
as it corresponded to Piacenza, but that complicated               winning the tender (Fig. 6.22). This happened in 1518
the centralised plan a lot.                                        and the work was not executed. But it generated a
                                                                   bibliography for fifty years worth of proposals. Better
The ideal of a centralised design, as planned by                   known was the project of Sangallo (Fig. 6.23). Peruzzi’s
Brunelleschi in Saint Mary of the Angels, was the                  project can be seen in Fig. 6.24. Rafael’s, in Fig. 6.25,

Fig. 6.22. Sansovino’s project for Saint John of the Florentines, in Rome (Millon and Magnano).

Fig. 6.23. Antonio de Sangallo’s project for Saint John of the Florentines (Millon and Magnano).

The Great Structures in Architecture

is rather similar to the project that was being analysed         in the hands of Bramante’s successors. Rafael and
as a solution for the Saint Peter dome. In 1559,                 Antonio of Sangallo the Young still were designing the
Michelangelo, then architect of Saint Peter, was asked           basilical plan. But the first project of Michelangelo was
to also offer his plans (Fig. 6.26). The temple was              already fundamentally centralised. In spite of the
never constructed but it was an example for successive           reluctance that, according to Vasari, he showed before
accomplishments, as that of Sanmichelli in Saint                 the enormous Sangallo project, without this the final
Bernardino and the Madonna of Campagna, both in                  project would not have been possible. Both Sangallo
Verona (Figs. 6.27 and 6.28).                                    and Peruzzi had collaborated with Rafael, Peruzzi left
The afore mentioned details help us to understand the            us the most valuable information about the constructive
transformations that Saint Peter was going to undergo            advances of the work and Sangallo provided us with a

Fig. 6.24. Peruzzi’s project for Saint John of the Florentines
(Millon and Magnano).

Fig. 6.25. Rafael’s project for Saint John of the Florentines    Fig. 6.26. Michelangelo’s project for Saint John of the
(Millon and Magnano).                                            Florentines (Argan and Contardi).

                                                                                            The Century of the Great Architects

                                                               Fig. 6.29. Sangallo’s project for Saint Peter’s (Bruschi).

Fig. 6.27. Saint Bernardino in Verona, by Sanmicheli (Lotz).

                                                               detailed project (Fig. 6.29) that was materialised in
                                                               one of the wood scale models, real works of art of the
                                                               architecture (Fig. 6.30). It seems that both architects,
                                                               competing permanently for more than ten years, were
                                                               forced to work in tandem by Clement VII, eager to
                                                               reduce the initial budget at any price. Also, the first
                                                               project of Sangallo did not succeed, but his rigorous
                                                               comparative studies with the Pantheon revealed an
                                                               attempt to materialise, in a reduced version,
                                                               Bramante’s project. Fig. 6.31 shows the section of
                                                               the Pantheon with measurements and three possible
                                                               solutions for Saint Peter numbered in the drawing,
                                                               whereas Fig. 6.32 shows the result of solution 3. From
                                                               1530, both architects chose a centralised plan
                                                               solution, with a portico of access of huge dimensions.

                                                               Peruzzi’s project can be traced through a series of
                                                               drawings (Fig. 6.33), whereas Sangallo’s later reaches
                                                               a full definition as a centralised one, which would not
                                                               be clearly seen until the order to make the scale model
                                                               in 1539, after the death in 1536 of Peruzzi who Pope
                                                               Paul III had every trust in. Maybe that was the reason
                                                               why Sangallo was forced to adopt the Greek cross
                                                               plan (Fig. 6.34). His final project can be seen in Fig.

                                                               In this project, there are some aspects of great
                                                               interest. We have said that Sangallo knew Bramante’s
Fig. 6.28. Madona della Campagna in Verona, by Sanmicheli      project well, as well as its Roman and Florentine
(Lotz).                                                        precedents. He knew that the stability of the Pantheon

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 6.30. Sangallo’s project model for Saint Peter’s (Lotz).

                                                                Fig. 6.32. Sangallo´s Solution n. 3 of the previous drawing for
                                                                Saint Peter’s (Bruschi).

                                                                dome was based on the thickness of the base and
                                                                that the “quinto acuto” of Saint Mary of the Flowers
                                                                increased its stability and allowed a construction
                                                                without a wooden cradle. That is why his last project
                                                                had such a Gothic profile and had only a ribbed sheet
                                                                . The drum was reduced to the minimum to hide the
                                                                excessive height of the dome and the outside was
                                                                reinforced with two floors with columns, imitating two
                                                                drums superimposed. The dome is one of rotation with
                                                                32 ribs that can be seen from both inside and out, and
                                                                are connected by horizontal rings. Thus, besides not
Fig. 6.31. Sangallo’s authographed drawing with the Pantheon
measures and several solutions for Saint Peter’s dome
                                                                needing wooden cradles, the construction would start
(Bruschi).                                                      with these ribs, making up something similar to a

                                                                                             The Century of the Great Architects

Fig. 6.33. Preparatory drawings by Peruzzi for Saint Peter’s project (Millon and Magnano).

                                                                  reticular structure, as must have been done in the

                                                                  The other main aspect refers to the definition of the
                                                                  profile, a little extravagant (Fig. 6.36). Not agreeing
                                                                  with any of the precedents of great domes, he planned
                                                                  a section of 42 m in diameter and 30 m of height. That
                                                                  was the result of projecting on a plan the curve resulting
                                                                  of the Fig. 6.37 tracing. It is a curve with a big
                                                                  resemblance to a catenary that gathers different
                                                                  advantages: it hardly has any flexion on its profile and
                                                                  does not generate horizontal thrusts in the base. Let’s
                                                                  say that Sangallo got, in an empirical way, an ideal
Fig. 6.34. Preparatory project to the final one by Sangallo for   curve. The comparative result between the domes of
Saint Peter’s (Lotz).                                             Bramante and Sangallo is that of Fig. 6.38.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                      Fig. 6.35b. Drawing by Antonio of Sangallo for Saint Peter’s.

Fig. 6.35a. Final project by Antonio of Sangallo for Saint Peter’s.   Fig. 6.36. Sangallo’s dome profile proposal (Bruschi).

                                                                                              The Century of the Great Architects

                                                                 Fig. 6.39. Graphical definition of the pendentives in a Bramante’s
                                                                 drawing for Saint Peter’s (Thoenes).

Fig. 6.37. Sangallo’s dome profile geometrical tracing (Millon
and Magnano).

                                                                 Fig.6.40. Forces model with a Fig. 6.41. Force lines obtained
                                                                 chains scheme (Kraus).        from the previous model

Fig. 6.38. Comparison between Bramante’s and Sangallo’s          Fig. 6.42. Michelangelo’s modifications to the works made by
domes (Mainstone).                                               his predecessors (Argan and Contardi).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 6.43. Michelangelo’s project for the Saint Peter’s plan,
according to Duperac (Argan and Contardi).

Fig. 6.44. Michelangelo’s project elevations, according to      Fig. 6.45. Autographed drawings by Michelangelo, for the
Duperac (Argan and Contardi).                                   Saint Peter’s dome tracing (Argan and Contardi).

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Fig. 6.46. State of the drum at the time of Michelangelo’s death

After the death of the architect in 1546, the divine
Michelangelo succeeded him in his post, always in
conflict with everybody and disagreeing with his
predecessors and contemporaries. Before starting that
chapter, it would be useful to analyse the two domes
proposed to then.

According to Serlio’s drawing, which compiled the
contemporary schemes of Bramante (Fig. 6.9), it
seems that we are faced with a mimetic reposition of
the Pantheon. According to Krauss and considering
that the dome rests on some projecting pendentives
(Fig. 6.39), the most problematic section is that
corresponding to the drum (Fig. 6.40), which must be
reinforced with buttresses instead of columns (Fig.
6.41) as Della Porta made later. Bramante did not have
a solution to finish the Basilica and his project was so
academic that it did not guarantee the stability of the
supports even before the dome was built. The only
experimented element was the lantern, because it was
an identical copy of the Tempieto of Saint Peter in                Fig. 6.47. Wooden scale model presented to Pope Paul III (Argan
Montorio. As for the rest, without the help of Pellegrino,         and Contardi).
Peruzzi and Sangallo, he would have had problems,
since he was more worried about other ordered works.
Michelangelo expressed in those years his doubts                   model in wood (Fig. 6.30), in which graphical
about Bramante’s technical ability and honesty.                    expression of Fig. 6.35 can be seen that the dome
                                                                   base has been reinforced by means of a periphery
As for Sangallo’s project, we are going to differentiate           colonnade. But most probably, this project, signed the
between that confirmed by his hand in 1538 (Fig. 6.29)             year of his death, was made by his collaborators,
and that from 1546, the date of conclusion of the scale            mainly by Antonio Labacco who used to boast about

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                             presented to the Pope. Vasari and Duperac were
                                                             guarantors for his project, to the point that when in
                                                             1565 the continuator of the works, Piero Ligorio, wanted
                                                             to change Michelangelo’s design he, was immediately
                                                             dismissed. The character of the Divine can be found
                                                             from his arguments with the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
                                                             When he was asked to explain his project, he
                                                             answered that the mission of the Church was to look
                                                             for the money, whereas he would be in charge of the

                                                             What was the contribution of Michelangelo to inspire
                                                             such confidence? For a start, he had a clear and well
Fig. 6.48. West wing at work, by Michelangelo (Argan and     dimensioned scheme. For the first time, an architect
Contardi).                                                   had made a categorical statement about a centralised
                                                             plan (Fig. 6.43). There were no corners any more. Over
                                                             a square there was a superimposed cross. The rest
being the author. Neither the drawings of Fig. 6.36,         was masonry, and above it all, a drum and a dome
nor its expression in the sheets of Fig. 6.35, have the      that reflected Alberti’s spirit (Fig. 6.44). Also he was
polished design characteristic of one of the best            not Brunelleschi, he was a mix of Alberti and Braman-
architects of the Renaissance. As both projects have         te. A drum crowned by a hemispheric shell. But he
nearly the same profile, we can only differentiate them      also learned from that drawing that it was not enough.
by the existence or not of ribbings.                         It had to be constructed, despite its 42 m diameter. In
                                                             his drawings, Michelangelo tried desperately to lighten
The first decisions taken by Michelangelo were drastic.      the loads, therefore the double sheet which would be
Twenty-two years after Bramante’s death, he could            hemispheric inward and slightly cambered outward to
be generous with his memory and make good use of             support the lantern (Fig. 6.45). And between them
it to change the decisions of his successors: “It is         some meridian ribbings to connect them. There
true that Bramante was the best architect of any time.       happened the paradoxical fact that the section is bigger
He prepared the first plan of Saint Peter without            in the key than in the base, unlike the Pantheon which
confusions, luminous and isolated not to interfere with      model Bramante copied . To absorb the thrusts, he
any part of the Palace of the Popes. Anyone who had          put a firm belt in the drum, very medieval like, but
continued with his idea, as Sangallo did, starting off       disguised as classical order (Fig. 6.46). Sixteen
from the truth to surround it with a crown of darkness       ribbings that corresponded to each one of the
and, besides, eliminating the light from the rest, filling   buttresses form the solid part of the dome.
the whole space with corners for delinquency, so when
closing it in the afternoons, more than twenty-five men      We will never know how Michelangelo’s scheme would
were needed to vacate with a great effort the building       have worked. He made sure that it was immutable by
of those who were hiding, can analyse it impartially.        means of the construction of a wooden scale model
Sangallo’s project would need, because of that               (Fig. 6.47) which authority would maintain his presence
additional crown, the destruction the chapel of Saint        after his death, in 1546. Only the drum did he see
Paul, the rooms of Piombo and many other parts, the          finished (Fig. 6.48). The responsibility of crowning it
Sixtine Chapel included. In addition, it would cost more     would be for others'. Nevertheless, his idea had an
than one hundred thousand crowns, since the remains          outstanding power since, despite the fact that he was
and the existing foundations would not be of use. Thus       in charge of the work for only fifteen of the almost one
I understand it and someone should convince the Pope         hundred and fifty years spent in the transformation of
of that, which is very difficult for me.”                    the paleochristian basilica and in spite of the over fifty
                                                             architects who took part, the final project was his.
When in 1546 Michelangelo received the order to
continue Sangallo’s work, his planning referred              Analysing his proposal, that some wanted to compare
basically to the plan and to the inner illumination. He      with Saint Mary of the Flowers, we find evident
did not previously have an overall idea as Sangallo          differences. The shape was not determined by the
had. The previous year, Council of Trento did not make       resistant behaviour, the constructive system, the state
a clear statement about the shape of the temples,            of the trades or by a structural challenge. The shape
except for those of circular plan, which were advised        was an act of self-assertiveness of the ideas over the
against for being of pagans. His great skill in his first    practice and of freedom over the rule. Argán
interventions was increasing its aspect of grandeur by       emphasises this concept and the fact that the followers
diminishing its size (Fig. 6.42). By diminishing the         of the academical rules of Vignola found this behaviour
plan, any possible type of dome would increase in            repugnant. That is why his successors tried very hard
elevation. He reinforced the central supports and made       to eliminate this stimulus to independence. Not being
a model for the conclusion of the whole that was             able to fight against the Master’s authority, they hid

                                                                                             The Century of the Great Architects

Fig. 6.49. Drawing by Dosio of the section and the lantern of    Fig. 6.51. Section in perspective containing the drum, by Dosio
           the dome (Argan and Contardi).                        (Argan and Contardi).

Fig. 6.50. Section in perspective of the dome, by Dosio (Argan   Fig. 6.52. Drawing made in Duperac’s atelier of Michelangelo’s
and Contardi).                                                   idealised project (Argan and Contardi).

The Great Structures in Architecture

the tests, lost his drawings and modified the scale
model until Della Porta and Vanvitelli succeeded in
making the others believe that their project was
Michelangelo’s. That matter is discussed below. But,
would the circular design have worked? The
mathematical analysis cannot preview possible
constructive solutions that could have made it viable.

As a result of the autographed drawings (Fig. 6.45),
there have been speculations on whether the outside
shell was in “quinto acuto”, but the drawings by
Duperac and Dosio’s sphere guarantee that, at least
in its definitive version, he chose two hemispherical
domes (Figs. 6.44 and 6.49). Fig. 6.50 , drawn from
the original wooden model, supports this thesis. As
for whether the inner ribs went along the whole
meridian, the drawing of Fig. 6.51 clarifies it and, if
they were interrupted at half their height in the later
wooden model, it was due to the fact that Della Porta
and Vanvitelli did not complete the lacking material
when cambering the outside sheet. The image of Fig.
6.52, although infantile, made every doubt disappear
and even set the concept of façade that Michelangelo
had in mind, the model of which was lost.

When he died in 1564, the work stopped. We have
already seen how Piero Ligorio was dismissed without
any consideration, for trying to change the drawings.        Fig. 6.53. Comparison between Michelangelo’s dome project
                                                             (left) and della Porta’s (right) (Mainstone).
The dome construction was not restarted until Della
Porta, in 1588, decided to keep a modified project in
use that he did not make clear was so. Lifting the
outside dome almost eight metres, he approached the
tracing in catenaries that could guarantee perfect
stability. This implied that in the higher part, the inner
ribs turned into excessively heavy real walls. The
solution was diminishing their width while increasing
the height. Fig. 6.53 shows a comparison between
both projects. At the same time, some metallic rings
were placed on the drum at a medium height, which
must have hooped any tendency to radial opening.

There are different opinions about the constructive
system used. Some, such as Salman, claim that it
was the same process as in Florence, which is doubtful
since the geometrical planning was very different,
whereas another, considering the amount of wood
bought in 1589, deduce that it used a framework
similar to that of Fig. 6.54, by Fontana. There are
contemporary representations that go the same way.
Fig. 6.55, also by Fontana, or Figs. 6.56, by Zabaglia,
dating from 1773, copy graphics of the time. Mainstone
justifies these aspects in detail. It is amazing that of
such a singular work, made in a moment in which so
many artists were transforming the city and drawing
systematically its evolution, there is no drawing of the
construction process. It is true that the construction
only lasted three years and that, probably, during the
process it must have been a mess of planks, protecting
canopies and gross bricks. Even so, there is no
justification for the lack of information that makes us      Fig. 6.54. Framework proposed by Fontana for the dome
work with hypotheses.                                        construction (Mainstone).

                                                                                           The Century of the Great Architects

Using the same logic that we used on the dome of
Florence, we think that the frameworks drawn by Fon-
tana refers basically to the sixteen main ribs and that
the rest could have been made with hardly a planking
or hanging of a rope. Besides, two ribs could have
been built at a time and afterwards the wood used for
the other two (Fig. 6.54). The ribs, that had to be very
deep in the key, could have been built less tall and
increased later. That way, their weight would not rest
totally on the framework during the construction. Fon-
tana himself, in one of his descriptions, is rather
explicit: “The tall walls grow like arches until the lantern
base in sixteen ribs that close the space, having below
and above the profile of the two layers, and they have
keys to insert the stretches of shell until getting their
complete shape. The sixteen ribs were first
constructed and were not loaded until being properly           Fig. 6.55. Drawing by Fontana (Zabaglia?) for the dome
hardened. Resting on them the circular sectors were            construction (Mainstone).
made, having 1.38 m in the base and slightly
diminishing toward the key with good bricks placed
as a fish bone.”

In no more than 21 months, in September of 1591, the
work had reached the starting of the lantern. The
mosaic ornament was initiated the following year and
the mortar for recovering was used too to seal the
fissures and cracks that appeared because of
rheological effects. It seems unlikely that in that
moment anyone attached a big importance to that
phenomenon. Della Porta had succeeded in finishing,
in a minimum term, a huge task about which others
had been previously getting nowhere. He has the merit
of the construction, though the design belongs, without        Fig. 6.56a and b. Section of the same scaffolding used for the
doubt, to Michelangelo.                                        furring, also in a drawing by Zabaglia (Mainstone).

But Saint Peter’s adventure had not yet finished. It
seems that the existing cracks had increased in size
causing alarm over risk of the collapse of the structure.
Even Bernini was accused of being responsible, in
part, for some slight modifications made in the
supports. The 1730 earthquake forced the insertion of
crack advance controllers. It was Vanvitelli in 1730
who did the first detailed report with graphics that
signalled the position of the damage (Fig. 6.57).
According to Mainstone’s analysis, all the cracks were
initially due to the radial thrusts that, in addition, have
separated the buttresses, besides the fact that the
metallic rings did not work. We must not forget, though,
that the structure is not laminar, but a set of sixteen
powerful ribs with an edge of seven metres, linked by
a skin much more fragile. Taking a good look at Fig.
6.57, every crack generated in the stretches agrees
with that analysis. As for the buttresses, if they had
opened they would have had cracks in the opposite
way. It seems more probable that they were exhausted
by the weak resistance to compression. Rondelet’s
drawing (Fig. 6.58) reveals how little the buttresses
section is. The cracks in the drum base show an
insufficient bracing by the tubes of the naves. In any
case, only an insufficient section of the base could be        Fig. 6.57. Drawing by Vanvitelly with marks where the dome
dangerous.                                                     damage appeared (Mainstone).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 6.58. Drawing by Rondelet explaining the     Fig. 6.60. Analysis of the parabola of   Fig. 6.61. Spatial analysis by Poleni,
damage and showing the weaker section of          pressures, made by Poleni.               from which the breaking lines are
           the drum.                                                                       obtained.

Fig. 6.59. Flat analysis of the dome behaviour by Le Seur,         Fig. 6.62. Reinforcements proposed by Poleni.
Jacquier and Boskovich and proposed reinforcements

What were the analysis and the dispositions of the                 both cases hinges were placed where cracks had
contemporaries? In a report dating from 1742, Vanvitelli           effectively been found.
proposed the conventional solution of introducing four
metallic rings for bracing, which did not satisfy the              Obviously, the analysis was flat, since there was still
cultivated Benedict XIV who asked thee famous                      not enough knowledge to do a spatial calculation. In
mathematicians to prepare a deeper report. Le Seur,                Fig. 6.59 can be seen the result of the visual check
Jacquier and Boskovich presented him their opinions                (central drawing), the consideration of the buttresses
that were published in a document of maximum                       without cracking (above, left) and with the existing
scientific interest. Two alternative hypotheses, with and          pseudovertical crack (above, right). In the first case,
without the cracked buttresses, were based on it. In               they deduced that there was a safety margin big

                                                                                           The Century of the Great Architects

enough even without working the chains placed during
the construction. In the second case, the state was
problematic even with the chains working. This second
case was very pessimistic, since the cracking did
exist. The proposed solution was a new chain, also

Nevertheless, that report must not have convinced the
builders or the Pope, since it meant that the dome
had to have already collapsed. A second report, by
another great mathematician, John Poleni, has a
greater importance because of its solid line of
arguments. From the parabola of pressures of Fig.
6.60, he determined the point in which the hinge L
must be produced, and set out a spatial analysis in
Fig. 6.61. As a conclusion, he suggested the exact
point in which should be placed the chain of hoops
and even its value, though this had been rather
arbitrarily deducted. Nonetheless, his line of arguments
were speculative, since Vanvitelli already had taken
care in placing the chains A, B, C, D and E in addition
to the primitive ones n and u of Fig. 6.62.

Saint Peter's sums up everything that happened in
the XVIth century, though around it can be found great
architectonic contributions. In short, we have seen how
Alberti’s ideal is taken up by Bramante, who reinvents
the ancient ideal, and is betrayed by Peruzzi, who
favours Brunelleschi’s way, and above all by Sangallo,        Fig. 6.63. Saint Giorgio Maggiones, in Venice. Plans by Palladio
                                                              (Wundram and Pape).
brilliant but tending to the Gothic in his development.
When Michelangelo appears in the architectonic
scene, he does it with his characteristic terribilitá, very
few of his contemporary architects were able to escape
his personal influence and almost none in the following
century. Only one, greatest among the great,
succeeded and saved the situation, keeping sane in
the middle of insanity. Andrea Palladio reached the
perfect architecture – at least, as defined by the later
non-Italian architects. His complex works are such a
prodigy of obvious simplicity. His religious architecture,
from Saint Giorgio Maiore (Fig. 6.63) to the Divine
Redeemer (Fig. 6. 64), is not a structural wonder, but
it is a wonder in simplicity. It is in civil architecture
where he expresses with more serenity the difficult
balance between the complexity of the programmes
and the clarity of the solution. Villa Rotonda is, maybe,
the most successful house and the best known in
history, surpassing Villa Savoie or the Cascade House,
only to mention two of the most important (Fig. 6.65).

From 1591 to 1624, there is little to tell about Italy.
But we have overlooked what happened elsewhere,
as in Spain, where Diego of Siloe, Hernán Ruiz and
Andrés of Vandelvira made, in the XVIth century, basic
contributions to architecture, even from a structural
point of view. The decagonal dome of the Cathedral of
Granada, by Siloe (Fig. 6.66), finished in 1557, the
dome of the Real Chapel in Seville, by Hernán Ruiz
(Fig. 6.67) and dating from 1562 or the group of vaults
of so many Andalusian stonework churches that can             Fig. 6.64. The Divine Redeemer, in Venice. Plans by Palladio
be seen in Fig. 6.68, by Vandelvira. The solution a) is       (Wundram and Pape).

The Great Structures in Architecture

found in the Cathedral of Jaen that, otherwise, is a
repertoire of almost every solution. The solution b) was
frequently used by Juan Bautista of Toledo in El
Escorial, or by Vandelvira himself in Saint Salvador in
Ubeda. The solution c) is found too in Saint Juan
Bautista in Chiclana. The d) solution that, as we can
see, is a mixed one, is exquisitely represented in the
treatise by Vandelvira, but is difficult to find at a
considerable scale. The e) and f) solutions, with the
ribs standing out, can be found in Our Lady of
Consolación in Cazalla (Seville) or in Azpeitia

In terms of importance, Juan de Herrera has not the
value of invention of the others, though his participation
in El Escorial gives him a certain pre-eminence.
However, his Palladianism is ascetic and bare and his
structural capacity remains dubious after his numerous
constructive mistakes.

In France, however, the Italian, Diaspora, brought big
contributions. From Leonardo to Serlio, de L’Orme (Fig.
6.69) and Primaticio (Fig. 6.70), they are the best of
the century.

                                                             Fig. 6.66. Dome of the Cathedral of Granada, by Diego of Siloe.

Fig. 6.65. Villa Rotonda, in Vicenza. Plans by Palladio      Fig. 6.67. Dome of the Real Chapel in Seville, by Hernán Ruiz
(Wundram and Pape).                                          (Escrig).

                                                                                                The Century of the Great Architects

Fig. 6.68. Solutions through stonework vaults made by
Vandelvira (Cobreros).

                                                                  Fig. 6.70. Primaticio’s project for the Chapel Valois, in St. Denis

                                                                  The Italian Renaissance and its national branches still
                                                                  produced new models that we have to highlight if we
                                                                  intend to understand the Baroque. Serlio, in his Book
                                                                  V, developed the fundamentals of the elliptical plan
                                                                  tracing and several architectonical proposals (Fig.
                                                                  6.71). His book, published in 1545, caused the
                                                                  construction of the little temple of Saint Andrea in
                                                                  Rome by Vignola, another great treatise writer and
                                                                  architect. It is one of those scarce examples of
                                                                  architectonical rotundity that summarises a whole
                                                                  programme in a little model measuring 10 x 7 x 2 m.
                                                                  (Fig. 6.72). In its second version in Saint Anne of the
                                                                  Grooms, a little bigger and with more ornaments, the
                                                                  modulation of orders is in direct conflict with the difficult
                                                                  geometry (Fig. 6.73).

                                                                  The work of Serlio and Vignola was better known
                                                                  outside of Italy than that of Michelangelo. Therefore,
                                                                  no wonder it turned out to be a pattern for the biggest
Fig. 6.69. Chapel of the Castle of Anet, by Philibert de l’Orme   constructions of this type. Whereas in Italy, Volterra,
(Blunt).                                                          in 1590, plans the big dome of Saint Giacomo degli

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 6.71. Oval tracings by Serlio, from the books V and VII

                                                               Fig. 6.74. Saint Giacomo degli Incurabili, by Volterra (Lotz).

Fig. 6.72. Saint Andrea in Via Flaminia, in Rome, by Vignola

                                                               Fig. 6.75. Saint Mary in Vicoforte de Mondovi, by Ascanio
                                                                          Vitozzi (Lotz).

                                                               Incurabili, measuring 26 x 19 m (Fig. 6.74), Vitozzi
                                                               begins a risky and troublesome construction in Saint
                                                               Mary de Vicoforte in Mandovi, measuring 36 x 24 m
                                                               (Fig. 6.75). It is in Spain, where some projects of this
                                                               greatness are finished sooner. The Capitular Hall of
                                                               the Cathedral of Seville, begun in 1569 by Hernan Ruiz
                                                               (Fig. 6.76) and the Cathedral of Cordoba transept, with
                                                               the same plan but started in 1557 (Fig. 6.77), are the
                                                               forerunner masterpieces of elliptical plans.

Fig. 6.73. Saint Anne di Palafreneri, in Rome, by Vignola      Alonso of Vandelvira’s treatise, dating from around
(Escrig).                                                      1590, explains a good systematisation of the

                                                                                  The Century of the Great Architects

Fig. 6.76. Capitular Hall of the Cathedral of Seville, by Hernán Ruiz (Gentil).

Fig. 6.77. Dome of the Cathedral of Cordoba, by Hernán Ruiz (Gentil).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 6.78. Elliptical domes tracings by Andrés de Vandelvira (Cobreros).

Fig. 6.79. Drawing from the Treatise of Vandelvira, showing the final solution of Fig. 6.78 (Palacios).

                                                                                                    The Century of the Great Architects


                                                                        DEFORMED SHAPE DUE TO SELF WEIGHT

Fig. 6.80. Efforts developed in the elliptical dome of the Capitular Hall of the Cathedral of Seville (Cobreros).

stonework quartering for this sort of work. Fig. 6.78                 part. The maximum momentums are developed in the
shows the three basic patterns that correspond to the                 short axis, as we will see below in Vicoforte. In the
name of the treatise and Fig. 6.79 is an example of                   model, the low parallels stand out in traction and the
the rigor with which he set out the stonework                         shifting matches with a great precision that found by
construction of this new structure, being followed by                 photogrammetrical methods (Fig. 6.81). Saint Mary
the rest of the Spanish architects mentioned.                         of Vicoforte has been studied more since, due to
                                                                      differential settings, it has had to be reinforced recently
Hernan Ruiz´s work can be of use, since it has been                   (Fig. 6.82), and the conclusions are rather similar:
well studied, to illustrate the structural behaviour of               strong tractions in the base parallels, bigger in the
these shapes (Fig. 6.80). In the mathematical model                   short axis, and large deformations of the meridian in
we can see how logical the efforts in each meridian                   the long sides. Finally the repairs, independent of the
are but are not constant in each parallel. We know                    foundation reinforcement, consisted of a ring hoop that,
that, in practice, these domes are very flat in the base              being elliptical, had to be applied by sections and with
and undergo much flexion and cracking in their lower                  a variable prestressing.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                 Fig. 6.82. Phogrammetrical analysis and pathology of Saint
                                                                 Mary in Vicoforte de Mondovi, before its restoration (Pizzeti
                                                                 and Fea).

Fig. 6.81. Photogrammetrical analysis of the dome of the Capi-
tular Hall in Seville (Gentil).

                                                                                The Century of the Great Architects

                                                                             REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 6

1. ARGAN, G.C. & CONTARDI, B. “Miguel Angel              12.KRAUS, F. “Bramante's Design for the Dome of
    Arquiteto”. Electa, Milan.                              St. Peters Cathedral in Rome. A study using
2. BLUND, A. “Arte y Arquitectura en Francia 1500-          experimental stress analysis techniques”.
    1700”. Ed. Catedra.                                     STREMA. WIT Press, Southampton.
3. BRUSCHI “Bramante”. Laterza, Bari.                    13.LOTZ, W. “Architecture in Italy” Yale Univ Press.
4. COBREROS, M. & VAZQUEZ, E. “The sail vault:           14.MAISTONE, R. “Structure in Architecture: History,
    A survey of constructive techniques to stalilize a      Design and Innovation”. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.,
    sophisticated structure”. STREMA. WIT Press,            U.K.
    Southampton.                                         15.MILLON, H.A. & MAGNANO,V. ”The Renaissance:
5. CREVE, S. “Visionary Spires”. Waterstore,                From Brunelleschi to Michelangelo. The
    London.                                                 representation of Architecture”. Thames and
6. ESCRIG, F. “Tecnología en los Edificios                  Hudson.
    Históricos”. STAR nº 2. ETSA, Sevilla.               16.MURRAY, P. ”La arquitectura del Renacimiento
                                                            Italiano”. Aguilar, Madrid.
7. ESCRIG, F. “Towers and Domes”. WIT Press,
                                                         17.PALACIOS, J. C. “Trazas y Cortes de Cantería en
                                                            el Renacimiento Español”. Ministerio de Cultura.
8. FIORE, F.P. & TAFURI, M. “”Francisco di Giorgio
                                                         18.PALACIOS, J.C. “La cantería en la construcción
    Architetto”. Electa, Milano.
                                                            del Renacimiento Andaluz”. Consejería de Cultura
9. FURNARI, M. “Atlante del Renacimiento”. Electa,
                                                            de Andalucía.
    Milan.                                               19.PORTOGUESI, “Roma del Rinascimento”. Electa,
10.GENTIL, J.M. “La traza Oval y la Sala Capitular de       Milan.
    la Catedral de Sevilla”. ETSA Sevilla.               20.TAFURI, M. “Ricerca del Rinascimento. Principi,
11. HEYDENREICH, L. & LOTZ, W. “Arquitectura en             città, architetti”. Einaudi,Torino.
    Italia 1400-1600”. Catedra, Madrid.                  21.TAFURI, M. “Rafaello Architetto”. Electa, Milano.
                                                         22.TESSARI, C. “Baldasare Peruzzi”. Electa, Milano.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                        Chapter 7. THE OMNIPRESENT SINAN

                                                       We have already explored how the Renaissance was
                                                       not a phenomenon limited to the western world.
                                                       Together with an economic and political flowering there
                                                       were similar manifestations in several regions of the
                                                       civilized world. From our perspective of being at the
                                                       centre of the universe, the mosques of Istanbul, the
                                                       Taj Mahal, the Forbidden City in Peking or the Lama
                                                       Palace in Tibet seem to us wonderful curiosities. Now
                                                       we are going to see, very summarily, what happened
                                                       in Turkey, India and some other regions, but we do
                                                       not deny the universality of the phenomenon.
                                                       Ottoman Turkey was born in the XIVth century, when
                                                       conquerors descended from the mountains to put an
                                                       end to the Eastern Empire. In 1453, Bayaceto II took
                                                       Constantinople after having controlled the surroundings
                                                       for one hundred and fifty years. Their great merit, that

Fig. 7.1a Mosque of Sefereli (Goodwin and Stierlin).

                                                                                                         The Omnipresent Sinan

                                                                     The Serefelli Cami (Mosque of Serefelli), dating from
                                                                     1440, is the first model produced by the great new
                                                                     architecture. Its only dome, 24 m in diameter, is of
                                                                     gigantic dimensions. It is still clumsy in its resolution
                                                                     as well as dark and spatially squat (Fig. 7.1a), but it
                                                                     partially reminds us of the Pantheon. The Fig 7.1b
                                                                     shows the finite element model with stresses due to
                                                                     its own weight.

                                                                     The Complex of Fatih overcomes this problem by
                                                                     introducing a drum with openings for illumination.
                                                                     Finished in 1488, the engraving by Lorish shows its
                                                                     former aspect, since the present building is the result
                                                                     of a reconstruction (Fig. 7.2). It was 26 m in diameter.
                                                                     The architect Hayreddin appears as the master
                                                                     forerunner of the new Islamic spaces.

Fig. 7.1b Finite Element Analysis of the Sefereli Mosque (Escrig).   The Complex of Bayaceto in Edirne, has a mosque
                                                                     with an unitary space that is reminiscent of the best
                                                                     Florentine creations (Fig. 7.3).
allowed a stability lasting until the First World War,
was to found an infrastructure system that bound the                 It is in the Mosque of Bayaceto in Istanbul, by the
whole territory and gave power to the cities. In that                same architect, where the total recovering of a space
system were included all the public buildings such as                similar to that of the Church of Saint Sophia (Fig. 7.4a)
mosques, madrasas, caravasars and palaces, that                      takes place. Its plan is identical and has the same
made of architecture a political and administrative                  counteracting system, though at a scale one half (Fig.
activity. Obviously, the Seljukians knew well the                    7.4b). In the drawing by Lorish it rises majestically on
Byzantine and Persian constructive traditions and were               one of the hills (Fig. 7.5).
able to mix with their own models the brilliant features
from Byzance and Isfahan.

Fig. 7.2. Complex of Fatih, in an engraving by Lorish (Goodwin).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                          Fig. 7.4. Complex of Bayaceto in Istanbul (Escrig).

                                                          architecture did with its own. We do not know why,
                                                          Hayreddin decided not to keep on experimenting after
                                                          his first successes. But he had opened a door that,
                                                          during the period of Soliman the Magnificent, would
                                                          gather the decorative and the utilitarian arts. We must
                                                          refer to the fact that in Florence there was also a great
                                                          prince of the arts who was magnificent and that
Fig. 7.3. Complex of Bayaceto, in Edirne (Stierlin).
                                                          Leonardo himself, wandering from court to court,
                                                          thought of offering the caliph his services.

Despite this acknowledgement of the superiority of        A military engineer who was going to revolutionize
Justinian’s architecture, when the successor of           architecture, Mimar Sinan, educated in the army, was
Bayaceto, Selim I, must face the disasters of the 1509    head of the military engineers and appointed Head of
earthquake, his big mosque resorts again to the unitary   Architects when fifty years old and is the best known
space, which best guaranteed the counteracting of         of the eastern architects. He started off from the lower
thrusts (Figs. 7.6), since it has the same dimensions     ranks of the army until being appointed Head of
as the Mosque of Fatih. This official architecture was    Engineers in 1536. This allowed him to visit many
going to be reproduced all over the huge territory with   places, gathering much data and, more important,
the same patterns, in the way that the Roman              setting a centralised cabinet that had to export

                                                                                                           The Omnipresent Sinan

Fig. 7.5. Complex of Bayaceto in Istanbul, by Lorish (Goodwin).

Fig. 7.6. Mosque of Selim I (Goodwin).                            Fig. 7.7. Mosque of Sehzade in Istanbul (Goodwin).

solutions for the constructive problems of the whole
Empire. His first great work was the Mosque of
Sehzade in Istanbul (Fig. 7.7). He recovered with it
the ideal of a centralised plan in a Greek cross, building
a high central dome equally balanced with caps in all
four sides and, at the same time, counteracting these
caps by means of other smaller ones (Fig. 7.8a). The
dome would therefore have four perfectly supported
transverse arches, that would allow putting holes all
over the walls. Four short but massive towers, acting
as a counterweight, would stabilise the diagonal
thrusts, for their part (Fig. 7.8b). The inner space has
a level hierarchy that Brunelleschi had established,
though in his own way, including the planking, the
cornice, the transverse arches with the spherical                 Fig. 7.8.a. Interior of the Mosque of Sehzade (Stierlin).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                Fig. 7.8d. Seismic behaviour of the dome of Sehzade by Finite
                                                                Elements, according to Crocci (Escrig).

Fig. 7.8b. Sections in height of the Mosque of Sehzade (Vogt-
Göknil and Güngör).

                                                                Fig. 7.8e. Displacements and thrusts of the main arches by
                                                                Finite Elements (Karesmen).

Fig. 7.8c. Discretisation of the dome of Sehzade by Finite      Fig. 7.8f. Reactions in the supports, due to their own weight
Elements (Escrig).                                              and to the seismic actions (Karesmen).

                                                                                                The Omnipresent Sinan

pendentives, the drum and the dome. There is so much        the point of economy reached. Sinan always
luminosity that none of these mosques was planned           considered this construction his masterpiece. Its
to break with an oculo or a lantern, the perfection of      19 m dome is not spectacular for the dimensions but
the half-sphere. This work, though innovative in respect    for the harmony of its shape (Fig. 78c).
of the space unity, follows the constructive techniques
in vogue that proved so effective.                          Karaesmen, who has intensely studied the behaviour
                                                            of these structures, deduces that the maximum
First, the drum, that on the outside looks like such,       compression is 3 Kp/cm2 in the key and that the
but inside forms part of the same shell, so that the        tensions in the meridians are very uniform, around 1.3
openings in it act as supports on which rests a flattened   Kp/cm2. The flexions are insignificant because of having
hemispheric dome. The angle of the arch of complete         a behaviour very similar to that of a membrane (Fig.
circle rarely surpasses 120º and it means, in               7.8e). On the other hand, the 24 supports of the dome
accordance with the shell theory, that there could be       on the drum have an important role in the seismic
obtained only small tractions for snow loads. For its       behaviour, since they absorb much of its energy. This
own weight they are fully in compression. Nevertheless,     way, it happens that those resting on the transverse
an edging ring is always skirting around them. Their        arches do more work than those resting on the
thickness is around 60 cm, which makes them very            pendentives, due to the flexibility of these. The
light, and are formed by a single layer, thus avoiding      maximum cutting effort in these supports is 3 Kp/cm2,
the orthotropism of the rib domes that had caused so        very high and close to its limit. Therefore, one of the
many troubles in Florence and Rome. The scaffolding         most complex aspects of these domes is their
may rest on the cornice of the drum base and be             dimensioning. The analysis of these domes by finite
outstandingly light since it hardly has any weight to       elements has obtained movements as those shown
resist, and even less when the bricks are placed in         in Fig. 7.8d. This shows the displacements and thrusts
completing rings. This scaffolding will be that used for    obtained for their own weight, and Fig.7.8f the reactions
the positioning of the ceramic decorative elements.         from their own weight and to earthquakes. To balance
The lightness results too in the occupation of the          the thrusts better, the secondary arches are provided
resistant elements in plan. Compare the relation            with iron struts that absorb 28% of the seismic effort.
between the useful surface and the constructed surface      As for the small counteracting domes, they play a
with the large western Renaissance structures to see        main role in the seismic behaviour, since they absorb

Fig. 7.9a. Mosque of Suleiman.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 7.9b. Mosque of Suleiman. Horizontal sections (Goodwin, Vogt-Göknil and Güngör).

17%. Perhaps all this explains the great stability of           The work was finished in 1548. Meanwhile, Sinan had
these works in such an unstable situation in case of            already begun the construction of the second of his
earthquakes. In order to finish with this analysis, it          great works, the Mosque of Suleiman, much closer in
must be said that the four large inner supports are             its solution to the Church of Saint Sophia (Fig. 7.9).
apparently over dimensioned, working to 38 Kp/cm2,              Its dome rises to 54 m of height, being 24.5 m in
a measure that we must accept with reservations for             diameter and having a cap 8.6 m high. Its thickness
being excessive, although this includes the flexion             goes from 0.4 m in the key to 0.8 m in the base. Figs.
efforts.                                                        7.10 and 7.11 testify to the similarity between the two

                                                                                                      The Omnipresent Sinan

Fig. 7.10. Inner view of the Mosque of Suleiman in two perpendicular ways (Stierlin).

Fig. 7.11. Inner view of the Mosque of Saint Sophia in the same ways (Stierlin).

churches, comparing them from the same point of view.              called into question in a later work of extreme
The only difference is that, in this case, the transverse          simplicity. The Mosque of Mihrimah in Edirne, finished
arches are pointed.                                                in 1560, rises plumb vertical on vertical plans that
                                                                   seem to defy the laws of thrusts (Fig. 7.12). Its domed
It is worth the trouble to detail the constructive systems         plan is a perfect square with walls pierced by the light
and the characteristics of the materials, to analyse               in all their extension (Fig. 7.13). Its dimensions,
the behaviour of this structure. Although stone is used            relatively reduced, are balanced by a greatness that
abundantly in the walls and supports, the                          gives it the coherence of design. In this case the dome
domes are made of bricks stuck together with a mortar              is 20 m in diameter, rising up to 37 m of height (Fig.
made up of brick dust mixed with lime oxide that has               7.14). Although the total plan is rectangular, in Fig.
a good setting capacity. Its density is 1.8 Ton/cm3and             7.15 it can be seen how for more than two thirds of its
its average resistance to compression is 40 Kp/cm2                 height it rises on a square formed by fragile walls.
and to traction is practically non existent.
                                                                   The weight of 890 tonnes of this dome, triggers some
It seems that Suleiman’s decision of linking its                   reactions that are expressed in Fig. 7.16, where the
architecture to the Byzantine one had to do with his               earthquakes have been considered as 15% of the ver-
will to recover the Eastern Empire at its time of greatest         tical loads. The supports, due to the combined actions,
splendour. For that reason, he did not follow the path             work under 42 Kp/cm2 according to Karaesmen and
opened by Sinan with its amazing Sehzade Cami,                     without considering the rigidity of the closings that
which he would surpass in later works. The                         are otherwise small.
construction took place between 1550 and 1557. This
period matches with that in which Michelangelo was                 Surely the most impressive structure, because of its
developing the definitive version of his Great Dome in             unity and its structural firmness, is the mosque of
the former capital of the other Empire.                            Selimiye, finished in 1574. It surpasses in dimensions
                                                                   Saint Sophia since it is more than 31.5 m in diameter
The counteracting system of Saint Sophia, which he                 and 44 m high (Fig. 7.17). The regularity of its shape,
repeated in the Mosque of Suleiman, was completely                 the perfection of its structural system, the resources

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                    Fig. 7.14. Axonometric sectionning of Mihrimah (Freelhy and

                                                                    optimisation and the beauty of its decoration are but
                                                                    some of the many arguments to name it the most
                                                                    outstanding work of Ottoman art (Fig. 7.18). In Fig.
                                                                    7.19 can be seen the setting of the dome on eight
                                                                    transverse arches and its alternate rate of a flat stretch
Fig. 7.12. Mosque of Mihrimah in Edirne (Kuran and Stierlin).       and a curved stretch. Fig. 7.20 shows the decreasing
                                                                    system of the masses expressed by means of a
                                                                    successive reduction in height. We can see that the
                                                                    eight powerful buttresses finish and become hardly
                                                                    visible from the outside, and instead are continued by
                                                                    eight massive towers that give the whole a
                                                                    characteristic aspect. Fig. 7.21 explains its structural
                                                                    and seismic behaviour.

                                                                    As we have seen in a few examples of Sinan’s greater
                                                                    works, his patterns always consider a rectangular plan,
                                                                    square in some rare cases, paradoxically ending
                                                                    sometimes with domes on an octagonal or hexagonal
                                                                    base. Fig. 7.22 shows the main projects, as well as
                                                                    their dimensions and their supporting system.

                                                                    Since we have pointed out the coincidences with
                                                                    western architecture of the time, it is worth noting the
                                                                    existence of the mausoleums of circular or polygonal
                                                                    plan, imitating the shrines and recovering the
                                                                    paleochristian baptisteries and tombs. In Fig. 7.23 we
                                                                    can see that of Suleiman and in Fig. 7.24 that of Selim.
Fig. 7.13. Plan and vertical section of the Mosque of Mihrimah in   In both of them a narthex or access is included and
Edirne (Vogt-Göknil).                                               they have only domed space. They would dignify by

                                                                                                       The Omnipresent Sinan

Fig. 7.15. Horizontal sections of the Mosque of Mihrimah, in Edirne (Güngör).

                                                                   Most probably, the almost five hundred documented
                                                                   works by Sinan were not possible under his exclusive
                                                                   design and direction. The Sultan’s head architect must
                                                                   have been in charge of a centralised cabinet that would
                                                                   supply the whole empire, and its directives must have
                                                                   had a graphical format, as happens in any culture. A
                                                                   subject for discussion would consist of finding out
                                                                   whether any sort of verbal or literary instructions
                                                                   existed, that could become an object and the degree
                                                                   of freedom of master builders and masons. It is
                                                                   possible that the scale model replaced advantageously
                                                                   the plans, since the lack of knowledge about the flat
                                                                   projection systems and the use of perspective must
                                                                   have been compensated with three-dimensional
                                                                   figures. It is inconceivable that in a system of cultural
                                                                   transmission as permeable as this one that allowed
                                                                   for the West being aware of the Islamic works, there
                                                                   would not develop the inverse phenomenon. When
                                                                   Bayaceto asked Gentille Bellini to paint his portrait in
Fig. 7.16. Reactions in the base of the arches, due to the         the Palace of Topkapi, this last met with Patriarch
gravitatory loads and the seismic action in Mihrimah (Karesmen).   Gennadios Scholarios to explain to him some concepts
                                                                   of the Italian art. In fact, Maquiavelo defended Bayaceto
                                                                   as a true Renaissance prince. For his part, Bayaceto
themselves the Eastern architecture, had the gigantic              asked Leonardo and Michelangelo to project the
constructions that we have described not existed.                  building of a bridge on the Gold Horn (Fig. 7.27). Tiziano
                                                                   himself painted two pictures of Suleiman, which is
In so brief an account, we cannot expand more on the               paradoxical for the official painter of the biggest
panorama of the classic recovery, of which we have a               Ottoman Empire enemy, the Emperor Carlos V. There
serious lack of documentary information. Fig. 7.26                 is a copious bibliography on our architect that offers
shows one of the few architectonic representations                 numerous biographical data, describing the
that have been conserved. It is the Mosque of Suleiman             characteristics and the number of his works but failing
scale model, ordered by Murat III as late as 1582. In              in depth on the graphical, cultural and constructive
any case, it is surprising that the representation of              concepts. We know that Saint Sophia was
human figures was a characteristic feature of the whole            constructed in five years, the Mosque of Suleiman in
empire, considering the strict Koranic prohibition.                seven and that of Selimiye in six. In contrast, the

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 7.17. Plan and vertical section of the Mosque of Selimiye (Vogt-Göknil).

Fig. 7.18. Outer aspect of the Mosque of Selimiye (Stierlin).       Fig. 7.19. Inner aspect of the Mosque of Selimiye (Stierlin).

                                                                                                            The Omnipresent Sinan

                                                                   Fig. 7.21b. Thrusts (Kp/cm2) obtained for the Mosque of Selimiye
                                                                   (Sánchez, not published).

Fig. 7.20. Horizontal sections of the Mosque of Selimiyem in
Edirne (Güngör).

                                                                   Fig. 7.21c. Deformations (in black) over the initial geometry (in
                                                                   grey) of the Mosque of Selimiye (Sánchez, not published).

                                                                   building of Saint Peter took 160 years, from Twine to
                                                                   Bernini, and Saint Paul in London, forty. This alone
                                                                   proves the huge capacity of organisation of the work
                                                                   processes in the eastern art.

                                                                   After Sinan, great constructions were built on which
                                                                   we will not expand because they no longer brought
                                                                   innovations and because they get out of our temporary
                                                                   frame. The Ottoman art of the XVIIth century lost all
                                                                   its vitality and was not able to be revitalised, contrary
                                                                   to what happened with western art. Basically, the
                                                                   religious tensions between the Sunnis and Shiites were
                                                                   an unbearable burden in which the intransigence and
                                                                   dogmatism ended up winning.

Fig. 7.21a. Mosque of Selimiye in Edirne, through discretisation   The unity and the communication provided by the
by Finite Elements (Sánchez, not published).                       Islamic religion facilitated the fact that in very distant

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 7.21c Mode 9 of vibration obtained for the Mosque of Selimiye (Escrig).

Fig. 7.22. Plans of some works by Sinan (Güngör)

Fig. 7.23. Mausoleum of Suleiman (Tanieli).                        Fig. 7.24. Mausoleum of Selim (Tanieli).

                                                                                                       The Omnipresent Sinan

Fig. 7.25. Plans of some mausoleums. The first two are are of Suleiman and Selim I (Tanieli).

Fig. 7.26. Drawing of the Mosque of Suleiman scale model, ordered by Murat in 1582 (Kuran).

parts of the world architectonic developments of large             these huge elements are not used for worship. In this
dimensions simultaneously took place. The pilgrimage               sense, we are going to point out only three important
to Mecca and the fact that the Jesuits began an                    works.
evangelisation campaign all over Asia explain certain
manifestations that, otherwise, would be difficult to              The tomb of Humayun (Fig. 7.28), dating from 1560,
understand.                                                        could have been a beautiful palace had it not been a
                                                                   burial monument. In this work, as in other later ones,
In India, under the Mogul empire, works as beautiful               the architecture is complemented by gardens,
and coherent as those of the best Italian Renaissance              fountains and by the water. It is not a structure of great
were constructed. It is in the mausoleums where the                dimensions but is very subtle indeed. The Taj Mahal
domed spaces acquire a personal meaning, since                     (Fig. 7.29), with its bulbous domes and its white marble

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                   Fig. 7.28. Tomb of Humayun (Stierlin).

Fig. 7.27. Drawing of a bridge for the Gold Horn in Istanbul, by

stonework, has a peculiar section, otherwise habitual
in these domes. The inner flat dome takes control of
its thrusts by means of the weight of thick ashlars in
the outer dome (Fig. 7.30). In this case, it is more
amazing for the geometric richness than the structural

The centralised plan is reminiscent of the bubbles
proposal by Leonardo. In this case, the system does
not change. A square is divided into nine square parts.
The interior practically keeps its dimension to be
covered with the great dome that to the outside
emerges taller than the towers. The four corners absorb
the thickness of the walls, each one supporting a small
dome. The other four lateral squares become triumphal
arches, named ivans, which frame the accesses.

The passage from a square plan to the circular one of
the domes is solved by means of a fractal fragmentation
of the ascending parallels and complex geometrical
ornaments instead of the Renaissance pendentives,
the Romanic trumpet shells or the Islamic faience                  Fig. 7.29. Taj Mahal (Stierlin).
stalactites (Fig. 7.31). This avoids the existence of
the transverse arches that gave their supremacy to
Italian architecture. These systems, in which the
mass rises over the void, guarantee their own survival             It must have been a task more impressive than the
in times of neglect or looting.                                    construction of the three great Italian domes. It is not
                                                                   placed within a basilica, does not have superfluous
The third Hindu work of interest to us is the tomb of              elements that make it smaller and does not add any
Goal Gumbaz in Bijapur, a small stylistically subtle               special constructive ability. It is simply a cube on
work but structurally, maybe the most ambitious work               which has been put a hat (Fig. 7.33).
of all (Fig. 7.32).
                                                                   The dome is a perfect semicircle, with a constant
Bijapur is in the south of India and represents the last           thickness of three metres. The only bracings are the
period of the mogul conquest against sultan                        towers in the corners, since the rest of it is a long wall
Muhammad, who ordered the construction the building                of 50 m of length and 4 m of thickness, as flat as a
to be eclectic and different from the prevailing                   floor tile, on which rests a dome with transverse thrusts
architecture.                                                      of one thousand tonnes.

                                                                                                            The Omnipresent Sinan

                                                                  Fig. 7.32. Tomb of Gol Gumbaz, in Bijapur (Stierlin).

Fig. 7.30. Section of the Taj Mahal (Stierlin).

                                                                  Fig. 7.33. Axonometric sectionning of the Tomb of Gol Gumbaz

Fig. 7.31. Passage from a square to a circular plan (Stierlin).

                                                                  How was it constructed? How has it lasted so long
                                                                  without deformations? As we do not have further
                                                                  information, we will not deliberate on this matter. The
Nonetheless, the bare interior gives the feeling of               fact is that this work, dating from between 1626 and
belonging to another world. It is an immense space of             1656, is something too singular and simple within the
1700 m2, wider than that of any Italian dome. In this             Eastern culture. Until the arrival of concrete, a
case it has two levels, one with a vaulting fan in a              construction of this magnitude was not undertaken.
style close to the Gothic, and the superior in
hemisphere completely smooth and bare, that seems                 We contribute, therefore, to this text our own analysis
to belong to another building due to a corridor three             by finite elements of a possible behaviour of the tied
metres wide interposed between both levels (Fig. 7.34).           ashlar stonework of this complex device (Fig. 7.35).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 7.34. Gallery in the dome spring of Gol Gumbaz (Stierlin).

                                                                  Fig. 7.35. Discretisation by Finite Elements of Gol Gumbaz
                                                                  (Compán, not published).

                                   Fig. 7.36. Discretisation by Finite Elements of Gol Gumbaz
                                   (Compán, not published).

                                                                                    The Omnipresent Sinan

                                                                        REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 7

1. BANISTER FLETCHER “A History of Architecture”.       Publications, Southampton.
   Butterworths, London.                            5. KURAN, A. “Sinan: el maestro de la arquitectura
2. GOODWIN “A History of Ottoman Architecture”.        otomana”. Ed. Universidad de Granada.
   Thames and Hudson, London.                       6. STIERLIN, H. “Turquía. De los Selyucidas a los
3. GÜLER, A. “Sinan: architecte de Soliman”.           Otomanos”. Taschen, Colonia.
    Arthaut, París.                                 7. TANYELI, G. “Structural use of Iron in Ottoman
4. KAMESMEN, E. “A study of the Sinan's Domed          Architecture (From the 15th to the early 19th)”.
   Structures”. Computational Mechanics                Computational Mechanics Pub, Southampton.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                                   Chapter 8. EVEN FURTHER

The Ming culture, developed in China between the XVth            extremely baroque. The correlation between them is
and the XVIIth centuries, although being a continuation          similar to that between the Romanesque and the
of a thousand-year-old tradition and a compendium of             Gothic, increasing in the Yünng dynasty (1279-1368).
gigantic buildings that, as in India, cannot be separated        For that reason, what happened during the Ming
from the landscape, has an amazing constructive                  dynasty (1368-1644) can be clearly expressed as a
quality in marble and wood. But we must remember                 contemporary Renaissance, complementary to those
that this style does not have any link with the Roman            mentioned in the preceding chapters and with a value
tradition nor the Islamic one. None of these cultures            still not acknowledged to the present.
arrived in China before the XVIth century.
                                                                 They share the same characteristics:
Peking by itself is a compendium of very diverse styles,
although to western eyes they may look very similar.             -   Rigid axial symmetry.
As Bussal says, the Ming style is different to the               -   Strong plinths supporting a simple wall structure
previous ones, the Tang (581-907) and the Sung (960-                 with special features for each work.
1279). The first one is very sober, and the second one           -   A subtle cover raised with its cresting and certain

Fig. 8.1. Relief representing a palace from the Han Dinasty (Metropolitan Museum of New York).

                                                                                                         Even Further

Fig. 8.2. Relief from the Tang Dinasty (Bussagli).

    monotony, mainly in public buildings of importance.     slow evolution. A relief conserved in the Metropolitan
-   There is also an only religion, Buddhism, that gives    Museum of New York (Fig. 8.1), dating from the Has
    an ideological content to whatever is done.             dynasty, contemporary of the Roman Republic and
-   The buildings are settled in urban environments         Empire, describes this system perfectly. An engraving
    almost as important as them and designed as the         from the Tang dynasty, abounds in this description
    architecture itself: the net of axes and streets, the   (Fig. 8.2). A drawing of a fortification, from the same
    elements of artificial landscapes, lakes and hills      dynasty, even uses colours (Fig. 8.3). At last, a plan
    are proof of an elaborated theory reached with          from the Sunj dynasty, signed by the official Li Chieh
    consensus.                                              in the XIIth century, as well as innumerable other
                                                            drawings, give abundant information about the slightest
The basic style of the construction consists of a strong    changes in style (Fig. 8.4). So that, any of the plans
plinth of stone or bricks, smooth or forming terraces,      of the Ming period made by Stielin can seem familiar
where a great part of the descriptive ornamentation is      (Fig. 8.5). My own sketches from life, drawn in the
placed–dragoons, lions, plumes, wheels–including            Forbidden City, reveal this evident complexity (Figs.
words with initiation information to understand the         8.6, 8.7 and 8.8).
                                                            The best thing that we can say about the structure of
The façade level is usually columned, with simple or        the system is that the great spans of the cover are
multiple corbels that allow making a good use of the        solved with impossible squares, since they work
existing wooden squares and covering wide spans by          almost exclusively under their own weight. In Fig. 8.9
means of that particular lintelled system.                  the beam corbelling system can be seen with more
                                                            detail. We must not think only about the construction.
Finally, a cover of a great spread is superimposed,         In civil engineering this architectonic system also
having one or many levels with its characteristic curved    opened possibilities as in the Bridge of Liling in Hunan
edges that unequivocally show the magnitude of the          (Fig. 8.10), where the span of the sections were
building.                                                   shortened by means of a successive advance of the
                                                            beams. The short squares also would be used for big
Perhaps the repetition of this system, of which old         arched spans, like the solution represented in Fig.
plans have been conserved, supports the western             8.11 for the bridge of Kainfeng, curiously the same
thesis that the Chinese architecture is no more than a      scheme was used by Leonardo three hundred years

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                     Fig. 8.4. Plan drawn by Li Chie during the Sunj Dinasty

Fig. 8.3. Drawing of a fortification in the Big Wall from the Tang
Dinasty (Jeannel and Koryrepf).                                      Fig. 8.5. Present constructive elevation plan (Stierlin).

Fig. 8.6. Shrine in the Forbidden City (Escrig).

                                                                                                                  Even Further

Fig. 8.7. Detail of the previous shrine (Escrig).             Fig. 8.8. Detail of the eave of the previous shrine (Escrig).

Fig. 8.9. Corbelling system of the cover beams (Pirazzoli).

Fig. 8.10. Bridge of Liling in Hunan (Pirazzoli).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 8.11. Bridge of Kainfeng in a picture from the Song period (Pirazzoli).

Fig. 8.12. Drawing by Leonardo for a bridge built with short         Fig. 8.13. Prayers Room in the Temple of the Sky in Peking
squares.                                                             (Escrig).

                                                                                                                 Even Further

Fig. 8.14. General plan of the Forbidden City (Jeannel and Kozyrepf).

Fig. 8.15. General view of the Forbidden City, from the Coal Hills (Escrig).

later in numerous drawings, as he must have                          A greater explanation is required for the towers that,
considered it an extremely important discovery (Fig.                 like in the European Renaissance, undergo their fading
8.12).                                                               or a loss of quality during the Ming dynasty. It is
                                                                     paradoxical that the high elements even lose their
The Prayers Room in the Temple of the Sky in Peking                  symbolic value in the classic periods. For that reason,
(Fig. 8.13) or the Forbidden City complex (Figs. 8.14                the most famous Chinese pagodas were built before
and 8.15), illustrate this sufficiently.                             the Ming period.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                            We are not going to speak here about the excessively
                                                            ornate and imaginative sculptural architecture of
                                                            Southeast Asia, including Hindu India, no matter how
                                                            much plastic value it has. Its landmarks were ancient
                                                            and extinguished from year 1000. Therefore, we
                                                            understand that those decorated accumulations were
                                                            seen as archaeology from the XVth to the XVIIth

                                                            Japan is the only country that, always with a minimum
                                                            geographic space, delimited along history: that
                                                            existing today, devoid of the continental part, gathered
                                                            some particular features of interest. However, this
                                                            interest is based fundamentally on the fact that they
                                                            have penetrated contemporary architecture to the
                                                            marrow. Wright or Neutra made a religion out of its
                                                            simplicity, that is kept alive in some great contemporary
                                                            architects like Tange, Ando, Isozaki or Ito.

                                                            The Japanese developed their practice from their
                                                            continental architecture. The network of temples of
                                                            the Heian period (794-1185) gave rise to a massive
                                                            transference of Chinese technology and design that
                                                            would be evident in very similar buildings with a certain
                                                            baroque style. Nonetheless, the attempts of the
                                                            emperor to get rid of the interferences of the Buddhist
                                                            clergy that arrived with the architecture, led to a
                                                            personalisation of the style.

                                                            The Yahushi-ji Pagoda in Naran (around 700) is an
                                                            example of the special structural complexity of using
                                                            little wooden squares. The central mast, without a
                                                            structural function, must have belonged to the sturdiest
                                                            tree of the forest (Fig. 8.16). We find here a great
                                                            ecological respect that is reflected in the fact that Japan
                                                            has kept its vegetation, whereas in China the big
                                                            reconstructions of the XIXth century were made with
                                                            wood imported from the United States. However, we
                                                            are speaking of a remote time. In the XVIth century,
                                                            the introduction of firearms, the arrival of western
                                                            civilization and the strong military boost by the
                                                            dominant class, developed a kind of picturesque castle
                                                            of which Himeji is like a new city of Urbino (Fig. 8.17).
                                                            Constructed in 1580, it is an example that did not go
                                                            further. In fact, the islands do not need castles but
                                                            coastal artillery batteries and a defence fleet. For that
                                                            reason, rules were immediately promulgated to lower
                                                            the profile of the cities to a maximum of 31 m and
                                                            modules of construction based on the tatami (918 x
                                                            1837 cm2) were established. In accordance with this
                                                            and to make good use of the residential surface, there
                                                            was a tendency toward an organic plan in which the
                                                            structure did not condition the construction. For that
                                                            reason, the ceiling frameworks had to manage to adapt
                                                            to irregular plans in search of the only place to rest
                                                            on, the contour. In addition, this must have been done
                                                            with small wooden sections. This is the great merit of
                                                            Japanese architecture: not the Chinese or the western
                                                            greatness but the extreme subtlety, a subtlety
                                                            represented by the paper walls, the complete lack of
Fig. 8.16. Pagoda Yahushi-ji in Naran (Heinle-Leonhardt).   furniture and gardens empty like deserts. Fig. 8.18

                                                                                                             Even Further

Fig. 8.17. Castle of Himeji, in Japan (Jeannel and Kozyrepf).

                                                                shows the Castle of Nijo, from 1602, whose image
                                                                does not match with that of a castle.

                                                                In the remotest place in the world, in an unknown
                                                                continent that without doubt had been permeable to
                                                                Asia through the Pacific, cultures of the highest level
                                                                thrived. We cannot link this phenomenon to the global
                                                                phenomenon of the Renaissance because of the lack
                                                                of communication between that world and the western
                                                                and eastern civilized worlds.

                                                                For that reason, the Inca or the Mayan culture, despite
                                                                their representing stellar moments for architecture even
                                                                from the point of view of their structural richness, are
                                                                not to be considered in this section.

                                                                Nevertheless, when Hernán Cortés entered
                                                                Tenochtitlan, a recent people like the Aztec were
                                                                developing a new architectonic refinement that
                                                                fascinated the conquerors, amazed by wide spaces
                                                                of the layout of the American Venice (Figs. 8.24 and

                                                                Though it might seem that these are piling systems
                                                                similar to those in Mesopotamia, the reality is more
                                                                complex, with a superposition of levels that included
Fig. 8.18. Castle of Nijo (Stierlin).                           large closed spaces (Fig. 8.26).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 8.19. Structural plan and mathematical model for the calculation of a pagoda (Hanazato).

                                                                                     (after Inayama 1995)

 Fig. 8.20. Unlinear diagram of the restituted rotational coefficient and semi-rigid model of knot with a beam going through

                                                                                                               Even Further

                                                                                          Qy: Ultimate Strength of Dowel
                                                                                          K: Stiffness by Embedding of
                                                                                             Dowel into Block and Shear
                                                                                             Deformation of Dowel

Fig. 8.21. Model combining a dowel and a support for the studwork complex (Hanazato).

                                                                                              Translational Spring

                            s: Translational Displacement due to
                               Embedment of Dowel into Block and
                               Deformation of Block
                            è: Rotational Angle due to Column
                               Rocking Resistance                                               Rotational Spring

Fig. 8.22. Model of the behaviour of the arms knot system (Hanazato).

Fig. 8.23. Seismic and wind behaviour of the tower in its different storeys (Hanazato).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 8.24. Reconstruction of the lacustrine city of Tenochtitlan (Gendrop-Heiden).

Fig. 8.25. Religious zone of the city of Tenochtitlan (Gendrop-Heiden).

Fig. 8.26. Building piercing of the great pyramid of Tenochtitlan (Lavallée-Michelet).

                                                                                                    Even Further

                                                                             REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 8

1. BUSAGLI, M. “Arquitectura Oriental”. 2 Tomos. Ed.   6. HEINL, H. & SCHLAICH, J. “Kuppeln aller Zeiten-
   Aguilar, Madrid.                                       aller Kulturen". Deutsche Verlags- Anstalt, Stuttgart.
2. FLON-GRANVAND, CHR. “América Precolombina
   y Colonial”. Salvat Ed.                             7. PIRAZOLI, M. “Chine”. Office du Livre, Fribourg.
3. GENDROP, P. & HEYDEN, D. “Arquitectura Pre          8. STIERLIN, H. “Enciclopedia of World Architecture”.
   colombina”. Ed. Aguilar.                               Taschen.
4. HAWKES, N. “El genio del hombre”. Debate, Cir
   culo de Lectores.                                   9. STIERLIN, H. “Islamic India”. Taschen.
5. HEINL,H. & LEONHART, F. “Tours du Mond              10.TILLOTSON, G. “Mughal India”. Penguin.
   Entiere“. Livre Total, Lausane.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                           Chapter 9. THE PERFECT SYMBIOSES FORM-FUNCTION IN THE
                                                     HIGH BAROQUE ARCHITECTURE

The Council of Trento (1563) ended its sessions
establishing a block of dogmas, rules and
recommendations, intended to channel not only the
thought of Church but also its way to pronounce itself,
to act and to appear before the people and the powers.
The Council was of no use to heal the wounds received
during the religious schism, but it was of use to delimit
a solid territorial barrier within which the official beliefs
and impositions remained unconquerable. The
governments and the monarchies would collaborate
actively in the repression of the heresies and the new
religious companies of militant type would be sent on
ferocious campaigns of evangelisation all over the world
and inside their own territory.

With respect to the architecture, the consequences
were traumatic. The modern ideals defended by Alberti
and Bramante were considered as of pagan tendency
and alien to the religious devotion, and the rationalism
that came with them, inappropriate to a dogmatic
religion that had just reinforced its theological and           Fig. 9.1. Proposal by Vignola for the Church of Il Gesu, in Rome
immutable criteria. It was necessary to appeal to faith         (Wittkover).
instead of reason and therefore, it was necessary to
reach the heart instead of the mind.
                                                                façade, serene and classic, was changed for Giacomo
Vignola, whose Regola delle cinque ordini was                   della Porta's, whose project was less imaginative and
published in 1562, had overnight become the most                more superficial.
prestigious architect. He was ordered in 1564 to
continue, in association with Piero Ligorio, the works          What was left of the freedom that Michelangelo had
of Saint Peter, and straight away, the most important           taken until the limit? Suddenly, the ideas the pioneers
work and new plan of the moment: the church for the             had fought for were subordinated to a flat and
Roman seat of the Company of Jesus. Il Gesu, begun              totalitarian ideology. The vaulted interior itself was in
in 1568, was designed in a purely Renaissance style             question. The Company preferred a church with a
since at that time there was no alternative solution            wooden carcass and a flat ceiling where the acoustic
and the Council just advised against using references           conditions were improved and reminded of the
to pagan temples. The Church had not been able to               paleochristian basilicas (Fig. 9.1).
create an architectonic style so suddenly and had to
use the tools within reach. The Company did not like            From the structural point of view, we cannot consider
Vignola, but the Pope Julio III protected him knowing           this work a display and from the stylistic point of view,
his capacity and flexibility. However, for the first time,      even less. It is solely merited by establishing a model
a humanist had to submit to religious and theological           in plan and section that was followed by the churches
impositions when defining his design. The Jesuit                of the baroque.
Giovani Tristano controlled all the decisions and the
cardinal Alexander Farnesio dared to change the                 If Vignola submitted, were the rest going to act in a
designs including that of the façade. As Vignola’s              different way? Quickly, and still within Renaissance

                                                         The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

patterns, new types had to be invented to adapt to the          Renaissance only in the epidermis, but not in the
new criteria. If the change of the Il Gesu front, heir to       content. Let us observe the difference between the
the triumphal arches, showed preference for a framed            Palladio of Saint Giorgio that follows a typical
scenography, the circular plans became forbidden. The           longitudinal scheme (Fig. 6.63) and The Redeemer,
intelligence of Vignola saved them by resorting to              following rather Vignola’s model, although trying to
axiality. The invention of the oval plan within a rectangle,    safeguard Alberti’s ideal (Fig. 6.64). In any case, Venice
so that from the outside it could not be seen as round,         never renounced its cosmopolitan vein. The fact that
was a success. The watchers of the new orthodoxy                Palladio, in 1570, still wrote that the perfect shape
rushed upon the solution to declare it a discovery of           was the round one, because “since all its points are
the Council. In the previous chapter, we have seen the          at the same distance with respect to the centre, it is
small chapel of Saint Andrea in Via Flaminia (Fig. 6.72)        the most suitable to give testimony of the unity, the
and the Church of Saint Anne of the Grooms (Fig.                eternity, the uniformity and the justice of God”, did not
6.73). They were followed by Saint Giacomo degli                prevent him from solving the Barbarian Shrine, of a
Incurabili by Volterra of Capriani, of majestic                 perfect circular form, by means of surrounding it with
dimensions (25.5 x 18.7 m) (Fig. 6.74) and the gigantic         a Latin cross that contradicted his intentions (Fig. 9.2).
Saint Mary of Vicoforte of Mondovi by Ascanio Vitozzi,
of 36 x 24 m (Fig. 6.75). We have seen too the speed            The Baroque, which term is subject to excessively
with which the countries that defended the new dogmas           frivolous speculations, starts when the ideas developed
adopted these elliptical solutions. Spain had been the          in the council were shaped in a map that related its
country that had fought more for the celebration of             intentions, forms and sensorial impacts.
Council and that had contributed more material .
                                                                Not until Bernini merged architecture and sculpture
Considering this situation, although the texts kept on          was that achieved. With the addition of painting, the
including, within the Renaissance, works that exceed            ideal fusion was obtained. Other sensations such as
the year 1600, in these cases we must speak of                  sound, light, smell, sight, theatre, choral representation
                                                                and clothes were added later. For a long time I thought
                                                                of the Baroque as a declining, confused and grotesque
                                                                style created to deceive the masses and to feed their
                                                                irrational mystic. It was not until the meticulous study
                                                                of its underlying matter convinced me of the unity of a
                                                                complex that had clear keys, nowadays completely

                                                                Michelangelo was a key figure in this process:
                                                                mystical, tormented, ascetic, visionary, prophetic and
                                                                creative. When he reluctantly painted the Sistine
                                                                Chapel ceiling, he opened a crack that neither his
                                                                contemporaries nor his successors understood, until
                                                                Borromini, somebody mentally close to him, did. The
                                                                ceiling is not a painting, but a complete architecture.
                                                                Using an innovating artifice, he preferred to use a
                                                                fictitious structural reinforcement painted on a
                                                                continuous surface (Fig. 9.3). Not only did he use those
                                                                reinforcement arches, but he also crossed them with
                                                                some straight cornices that delimit the extension of
                                                                the room and turn out to be the only apparent hoops
                                                                of all his architecture. He thus created a spatial net
                                                                that turned a monotonous room into a rich set of nets
                                                                made of interwoven ribs. Nothing to do with the vaults
                                                                of Brunelleschi or Alberti. It was a radical invention
                                                                that fills the space with the strength and the gravity
                                                                that the Herculean figures try to overcome.

                                                                Alien to the real architecture of the room, he imposed
                                                                with the pilasters a rate of alternate separation,
                                                                hierarchising the whole structure. The alternating
                                                                cornice made the ceiling seem higher. The disposition
                                                                of the figures contributes it. They are figures of a much
                                                                accentuated volume, modelled to face people. The
                                                                sibyls and the prophets pretend to be vertical as if
Fig. 9.2. Barbarian Shrine, by Palladio (Wundram and Pape).     they were not in the vault. Ending the cornice, the

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.3. Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo (before restoration).

twenty ignudes play the same role as a row of statues                new architecture had established, but the geometrical
crowning a building. The vault is thus reduced to less               effects, which will be materialised in all sorts of
than a third of its surface and therefore seems very                 evocations.
distant, so far that up there, between the openings of
the structure, the first scenes of the Creation can be               From this viewpoint the Baroque, which has so many
seen. It is so far in distance and time.                             different ways to express itself depending on the
                                                                     different regions, wins a firmer unity. The Baroque is
The Sistine Chapel ceiling combines for the first time               the style of the Counter Reformation. The catholic
architecture, sculpture and painting in an indissoluble              countries let it develop its pomposity. It is in Italy, Spain,
whole, whether it be in a virtual way. Perhaps the                   Portugal, the Iberian colonies, the South of Germany
theologians of Trent were more bothered by the nudes                 and many countries of Eastern Europe where it thrives.
of the set and were not able to see that Michelangelo                It only appears in France when this country solves its
had just written his architectonic programme.                        religious problem. The rest of the countries are more
                                                                     self-controlled. England for example develops a very
No matter how many concessions we are willing to                     classic, but not non-imaginative, Baroque. France
make, it is a fact that until the appearance of Borromini            shows a rather particular case that opens a new front.
the baroque did not fully exist in architecture. Even                The fact that the French did not accept Bernini’s
Bernini, so splendid in sculpture, made too many                     proposals speaks of how little they agreed with the
stylistic concessions in architecture. Bernini was a                 personalist and non-systematisable styles. Fig. 9.4
great architect of the later Renaissance that hardly let             show Bernini’s sketches for the Louvre that were
the fury of his disciple Borromini contaminate him.                  ignored by Le Vaux’s projects.
So, until 1630 nothing specially new happened in
architecture.                                                        We consider Borromini the inventor of the Baroque.
                                                                     Not because he was the official architect, whose
What has all this to do with the structural conception               patterns were an example for his generation, but as a
of the buildings? Did the Council also give instructions             source of ideas that, duly codified, were adopted by
on the matter? Evidently not, but the evolution of the               the commercial architects who received the
forms had to be made in accordance with their static                 commissions: Bernini, Cortona, Juvara... In the
characteristics. What happened was that in spite                     personal field, he was marginalized socially. His difficult
of the grandiloquent and propagandistic interest,                    character and his excessive expressionism did not
the dimension of the spaces is virtual. They may give                make of him an easy companion. However, he was
a sensation of amplitude and all the possible                        able to solve any problem, however impossible it might
techniques are used to obtain it, but the physical                   seem.
dimensions are reduced. It means that structurally
much more effective resources can be applied like that,              The first exclusive work was that of Saint Carlino alle
than on a large scale: flat or waving ceilings, divided              Quatro Fontane, in 1634. It was a minimal and difficult
vaults, irregular macles, enormous holes, complex                    project. Fig. 9.5 shows its plan, in which what first
plans, etc.                                                          draws one’s attention is the placing of the church in
                                                                     the most difficult point, the corner. Beside this curiosity,
It is in the subtlety of the solutions where we find a               the small structure, that could have been solved as
field to work on. In this chapter, we will not mention               Vignola did in Saint Andrea (Fig. 6.72), waves in very
specially the ornamental or sensorial aspects that the               complex faces.

                                                             The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.4. Sketch by Bernini for the Louvre Palace (Blunt).

Borromini had already worked on Saint Peter in the                  horizontal section of this dome homothetic with the
service of Maderno, and in the Baldaquino and the                   plan (Fig. 9.10). As in the previous case, the cornice
Palace Barberini on that of Bernini. He was an                      that crowns the first level defines the form of the plan,
experienced constructor. The plan was difficult to                  since at ground level it is difficult to discover it. There
identify for those entering that space and Borromini                are some more elements of reinforcement as a
decided to make a solid cornice to separate the first               continuation of the face pilasters, but they are
level from the rest and to allow the vision of the outline          secondary (Fig. 9.11). The loads descend mainly along
(Fig. 9.6), that is to say, he created a unitary space in           six ribs to arrive at the six corner pilasters (Fig. 9.12).
which at second level some pendentives give way to                  So that, what we really have is a ribbed hexagonal
an elliptical vault. In addition, the dome is perforated            dome, whose faces wave capriciously. Nothing to do
in five different points to permit illumination.                    yet with Brunelleschi’s domes nor even with
                                                                    Michelangelo’s. Although the dimensions are not of
The small dimension (15 x 10 m) of the dome and the                 importance, the almost 17 m gap between two
thickness of the faces help to avoid possible damage.               opposite load pilasters is too much for a construction
Fig. 9.7 compares the size of the central pillars of                made of such poor materials (bad bricks and worse
Saint Peter with the plan of this church, which in fact             mortar) to resist. For that reason, the pathology began
rests on eight supports as seen in Fig. 9.8.                        from the moment of the construction. As the architect
                                                                    of the library, Borromini blamed the materials for the
In order to maintain the imaginative vein that began in             hard cracking that appeared in the set.
Saint Carlo, it is worth studying Saint Ivo della
Sapienza, started in 1640 with its long courtyard                   Fig. 9.13 shows the cracking scheme of the set and
corresponding to the Alexandrian Library and designed               Fig. 9.14, the Finite Elements analysis made by Croci.
by Giacomo della Porta (Fig. 9.9a). In this space, it
would have been easier to place the projected circular              In case the form of the dome was considered a little
plan. This is what any other architect would have done.             capricious, the ending that crowns it have an oneiric
However, he chose a starred plan that miraculously                  form (Fig. 9.15).
fitted within (Fig. 9.9b). The star was generated by
means of two triangles measuring 25 m a side, which                 Borromini was one of those architects who was given
resulted in an inner circle of 16.6 m.                              seemingly impossible missions. In the restoration of
                                                                    Saint John of Letran, the paleochristian basilica that
In this case, the dome leaves any known pattern. The                could not be demolished, he designed a transformation
vertices of the inner hexagon generate semicircular                 that did not reach the vault that had to replace the
arches that are the basic wall elements, being any                  studwork, but it was not constructed. Fig. 9.16a shows

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.5. Final proposal by Borromini for Saint Carlino alle Quatro
Fontane (Bosel and Frommel).

                                                                      Fig. 9.6. Building section of Saint Carlino alle Quatro Fontane
                                                                      church (Castex).

Fig. 9.7. Sketch comparing the size of the central pillars of Saint Peter’s dome and Saint Carlino alle Quatro Fontane as a whole
(Bosel and Frommel).

                                                            The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

                                                                   Borromini's design for the section ending in a spherical
                                                                   cap, whereas Fig. 9.16b is the interpretation of this
                                                                   proposal made in Piranesi’s workshop.

                                                                   The Church of Saint Agnese in Navona Square, does
                                                                   not have a structural interest, although stylistically it
                                                                   is worth studying. It is characterised by the high drum
                                                                   and the pointed dome, which was new in itself (Fig.
                                                                   9.17). The introduction of the towers as fundamental
                                                                   elements in the composition of the façade was a
                                                                   prelude to a substantial change in respect of the height
                                                                   in the construction of these elements. Although it is
                                                                   true that the big projects of the Renaissance always
                                                                   projected some tower, see Saint Peter in chapter 6,
                                                                   the fact that they were never constructed gives an idea
                                                                   of the interest in incorporating them. In fact, Saint
                                                                   Agnese developed the idea that Bernini had conceived
                                                                   in 1636 to finish Saint Peter (Fig. 9.18).

                                                                   Beside these projects of churches, there was another
                                                                   facet in which he stood out: the construction of palaces
                                                                   and buildings for religious congregations. Fig. 9.19
                                                                   shows the structure of the main hall of the Carpegna
                                                                   Palace, where in addition to the distributive solution
                                                                   which was able to increase the apparent size of the
Fig. 9.8. Structural sketch of Saint Carlino alle Quatro Fontane   lot, with the artifice of an oval patio tangent to the
(Escrig).                                                          façades, the hall with two narthex and the huge stairs
                                                                   prove his clear-sight. The central ribbed structure was
                                                                   pioneering for Baroque structures.

Fig. 9.9a. Proposal by Giacomo della Porta for Saint Ivo and the   Fig. 9.9b. Solution by Borromini for the church of Saint Ivo della
Alexandrian Library.                                               Sapienza (Bosel and Frommel).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.10. Drawing by Borromini for the dome of Saint Ivo (Bosel
and Frommel).

                                                                   Fig. 9.11. Building section in perspective from Saint Ivo (Catex).

                                                                   The Saint Philippe Neri Oratory is another
                                                                   contemporary example that gives us an advantage:
                                                                   having been constructed, we can observe there the
                                                                   complex hierarchy of faces and spans (Fig. 9.20), as
                                                                   in Saint Mary of the Seven Pains (Fig. 9.21).

                                                                   Where this model reaches the maximum refinement
                                                                   is in the School of Propaganda Fide (Fig. 9.22). The
                                                                   Chapel of Three Kings solved the contradictions
                                                                   underlying all his previous solutions in which the
                                                                   structures were formed by trimmered ribs. Now all the
                                                                   ribs are continuous, going from support to support and,
                                                                   what is more interesting, all are equal and transmit
                                                                   the same load. Solving within a rectangular ground
                                                                   plan required great ability, mainly because the corners
                                                                   look very strange. Nevertheless, Borromini places the
                                                                   entrances in the corners and in their upper part, a
                                                                   small arch that matches two ribs in the same way as
                                                                   in the centre of the faces. The result is that the cover
                                                                   rests on twelve points in such a way that among them
                                                                   there are both big and small arches as in that alternate
                                                                   sequence so characteristic of the Baroque (Fig. 9.23).

                                                                   The other great architects of those days, in spite of
                                                                   their doubtless contributions, do not reach so exquisite
Fig. 9.12. Structural sketch of Saint Ivo (Escrig).                levels. We are speaking of Pietro of Cortona, Carlo

                                                             The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

                       Crack pattern on the plan of the              Crack pattern of the vault

Fig. 9.13. Pathology of the Alexandrian building of Saint Ivo (Croci).

                                                                     Rainaldi and Bernini himself, who turned Saint Andrew
                                                                     of the Quirinal (1658-70) into his most controversial
                                                                     work by using an oval ground plan with its main axis
                                                                     in the short direction, with the dimensions 25 x 17.5 m
                                                                     (Fig. 9.24). It would not be anything special but for
                                                                     being divided in ten sections that give it an atypical
                                                                     modulation, since the Renaissance uses multiples of
                                                                     four exclusively. The new stayle influences the

                                                                     At this point, one hundred years after the Council, we
                                                                     can already put forward some of the basic
                                                                     characteristics of the Baroque, some already
                                                                     described, and others to be seen below:

                                                                     1. Predominance of the solutions with a single axis
                                                                         of symmetry.
                                                                     2. Extremely complex ground plans, where the
                                                                         spaces are very interrelated.
                                                                     3. Multiplication of the levels in height.
                                                                     4. Waving forms in ground plan and section.
                                                                     6. Violation and free use of the classic orders.
                                                                     7. An almost exclusive use of bricks as a structural
                                                                         material and a poor furring with very worked
                                                                     8. Complicated structures that use elements from
                                                                         every culture and, in many occasions, innovative
                                                                     9. Introduction of elements in height, whether they
                                                                         be towers or domes very deformed in elevation.
                                                                     10.Scenographical and perspectival character of every
                                                                         element with a special use of several simultaneous
                                                                         vanishing points.
Fig. 9.14. Analysis of the structural behaviour by Finite Elements   11. Synthesis of all the plastic arts and extensive use
(Croci).                                                                 of colour.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.15. Drawing of the Saint Ivo dome     Fig. 9.16a. Proposal by Borromini for Saint John of Letran (Bosel and Frommel).
and lantern (Bosel and Frommel).

Fig. 9.16b. Saint John of Letran reconstruction by Piranesi of   Fig. 9.17. Structural sketch of Saint Agnese, in Navona Square
Borromini’s not constructed project (Bosel and Frommel).         (Escrig).

                                                              The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

                                                                     Fig. 9.20. Building sketch of the Saint Philippe Neri Oratory

Fig. 9.18. Bernini’s project for Saint Peter’s finishing (Toman).

                                                                     Fig. 9.21. Building sketch of Saint Mary of the Seven Pains

                                                                     In addition, we must mention certain special features
                                                                     that only occur in the Baroque:

                                                                     12.Lateral perforation of the domes to place oculos
                                                                        and windows.
                                                                     13.Domes with several layers that look like a cascade.
                                                                     14.Painted architectures that enlarge the space.
                                                                     15.Better use of light reflections.

Fig. 9.19. Structural sketch of the main hall of the Carpegna        The first Roman Baroque can already be considered
Palace (Escrig).                                                     complete with these four great figures. But Rome, which

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                Fig. 9.24. Building sketch of Bernini’s Church of Saint Andrea of
                                                                the Quirinal (Escrig).
Fig. 9.22. Building sketch of the School of Propaganda Fide

                                                                Venetian case is very singular and the plan itself, of
                                                                rotunda with ambulatory and narthex, is typical of the
                                                                purest Roman classicism. Also, the articulation of
                                                                spaces is typical of the Baroque, since the ambulatory
                                                                with its chapels and groined vaults is rather
                                                                Brunelleschian than postcouncilian. Nonetheless, if
                                                                we compared it with The Redentor (Fig. 6.64), very
                                                                close to it, we would note the difference and the new

                                                                The former Milanese Baroque was in certain ways
                                                                ahead of the Roman, since Lombardy was a sworn
                                                                enemy of classicism. We find an immediate explanation
                                                                in the fact that Charles Borromeo, the greater council
                                                                activist, was born there and published some detailed
                                                                instructions with a practical purpose. They include
                                                                ideas such as the following: “The churches have to be
Fig. 9.23. Structural sketch of the School of Propaganda Fide
chapel (Castex).                                                cruciform as seen in the big Roman Basilicas”; as
                                                                well as others of formal content. Pellegrino Tibaldi,
                                                                the architect of Charles Borromeo, was a faithful
had finished the jubilee year in 1600, had an expanding         guardian of this orthodoxy just like his successor
capacity that logically radiated to the surroundings.           Martino Bassi. The most important work that they
                                                                undertook was the restoration of Saint Lorenzoe of
Balthasar Longena built in Venice the Church of Saint           Milan (Fig. 5.2), whose pointed vault, that replacing
Maria della Salute in 1631, dressing it with robes of           the Roman vault, had collapsed in 1573. Since the
Palladian look. Its outer aspect is imposing (Fig. 9.25);       existing plan had to be respected, it adopted a scheme
the interior, very sober, has a verticality in accordance       very similar to that of Saint Peter by Sangallo (Fig.
with the characteristics previously enumerated (Fig.            9.27), which materialised in a project like that of Fig.
9.26). In this case the structure consists of a very            9.28, on an octagon of 15 m radius and a pointed dome
light hemispheric cover and the camber is obtained              25 m high, that is to say, practically circumscribable
by means of a wooden dust cover in the style of                 in an equilateral triangle (Fig. 9.29). If it had been a
Byzantine architecture. Although the Baroque features           revolution form, the analyses as shell would have
are masked inward, we must not forget that the                  resulted in a traction in the base between 0.2 and 0.3

                                                            The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.25. General view of Longena’s Church of Saint Maria della   Fig. 9.27. Tibaldi’s project for Saint Lorenzo, in Milan (Lotz).
Salute (Escrig).

Fig. 9.26. Plan and section of Longena’s Church of Saint Maria     Fig. 9.28. Developed project for Saint Lorenzo, in Milan (Cardinali).
della Salute (Wittkover).

The Great Structures in Architecture

N/mm2, depending on whether we consider or not the
weight of the cupola, and the final result, not
considering the traction of the material, is an outward
thrust of 1 tonne. Not being a revolution form, we can
consider the thrust of each one of the eight ribs of 12
tonnes, which is a small amount in comparison with
spanned space.

However, the problem is not so simple. For a start,
because the set into the base is very flexible and the
existence of the windows debilitates the stretches.
Thanks to the documents that exists on this
construction, we can study the state of the analytical
technique at this time. Martino Bassi had to justify in
detail his static approach to its opponents Magenta
and Rinaldi. Of course, this justification was reduced
to the hypotheses of proportionality between the
resistance of the material and its weight, and the
relation between the supports and descendent load
sections, and the experience from other buildings, and
the texts of treatise writers. On the other hand, from
the beginning steel hoops were placed as seen in Fig.

In 1771, the mathematician Bernardino Ferrari used          Fig. 9.29. Analytical sketch by Bassi for the behaviour of the
the knowledge of the time to make the analysis shown        dome of Saint Lorenzo, in Milan (Escrig).
in Fig. 9.30, which peculiarly correctly used the
conditions of symmetry to reach the conclusion that
the thrusts reached 8 tonnes in the base of each rib,
slightly less than what we have previously predicted.
Its conclusion was that the stability of the whole could
not be assured without the contribution of the corner

In 1995, Cardinale and others set out a calculation by
Finite Elements very similar to that proposed by Ferrari
two hundred years before (Fig. 9.31) which concluded
what can be seen in Fig. 9.32, where the greater
tensions take place in the base and also with a value
of 0.15 N/mm2. Note that the compressions in these
graphs are of positive sign.                                Fig. 9.30. Analysis by Ferrari for the same dome (Cardinali).

We find a close correspondence among all the
analyses that we have done, and the value of these
modern tools is that they provide much detail in each
of the points.
                                                            The construction problems did not consist only of the
In Piedmont, the church of Saint Mary of Vicoforte,         big efforts it had to undergo, including strong flexion
begun in 1596 and finished in 1733, is a magnificent        momenta (Fig. 9.36), but also that it was based on
example of a Baroque construction. Its outer aspect,        uneven ground under which flowed a stream. That
large dimensions and motley inner decoration make           meant that the foundations were crossed by accessible
of it a clear example of the former Baroque that evolved    underground channels of drainage that kept the ground
in all its phases, due to the length of its construction.   dry. Nevertheless, the neglect of many years and their
The elliptical interior of the dome has a span of 37 x      obstruction triggered differential settlings that led to
24 m, which makes it the greatest elliptical dome ever      the alarming pathology shown in Fig. 9.37.
constructed, including present concrete shells (Fig.
9.33). The dome construction did not begin until 1731,      The most amazing thing is that such a complex work
being finished in six months. It has an average             was constructed in a province by order of an individual,
thickness of 1.7 m. and was constructed with bricks         no matter that he was the Duke of Savoy, and by an
and ribbing towards the outside. The inner spectacle        architect with hardly a known work except for some
(Fig. 9.34) and the outer aspect (Fig. 9.35) is moving.     military fortifications.

                                                            The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.31. Discretisation for the Finite Elements calculation of   Fig. 9.32. Results obtained from the calculation (Cardinali).
Saint Lorenzo dome (Cardinali).

The thickness of the shell, little in relation to the span,        specially gifted mind a process of general conciliation
the decisions to solve the discontinuity of the oculos             must have been elaborated. If Guarini had not left Italy
and the small buttresses characterise a work that the              we probably would not have had the architect that we
historians have marginalised for being eclectic but that           know. It is important for that reason to know his
the contemporary architects would have to study                    movements.
                                                                   In 1639 he entered the order of the Theatines in
The XVIIth century was especially hard for the European            Modena, from there he went to Rome where he knew
population and economy. Most of the countries were                 the first work by Borromini. In 1647 he returned to
devastated by epidemics and crisis. Although Italy was             Modena to be ordained a priest. In 1657 he went to
safer, its economy also suffered. Nevertheless                     Spain and Portugal, where he left his mark and learned
Piedmont, under the good government of the House of                from the Islamic architecture. In 1662 he travelled to
Savoy, saw the flourishing of a golden age for                     Paris, from where he was called to Turin by Carlo
architecture. We have already seen Vitozzi’s role, who             Emanuel II, living there for his remaining seventeen
was succeeded by Guarini a generation later, as court              years of life. We have given this account to locate the
architect.                                                         following projects.

Guarino Guarini, monk, mathematician and architect,                Fig. 9.38 shows the basilical scheme of the 1656 Divine
tried simultaneously to conciliate these three                     Providence Church in Lisbon. The way he solved the
approaches, vital, scientific and technical, in the                plan was original. The vaults are built with diagonal
rationalist philosophy of Descartes, whose work he                 ribbings and the transept of elliptical endings is
knew in Paris. More likely, there he fell in love with             combined to form a unitary space . The waving façade
the French Gothic style to such extent that in his                 of Saint Charles of Borromini spreads over the whole

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                  Fig. 9.35. Outer aspect of Saint Mary of Vicoforte (Escrig).

Fig. 9.33. Building sketch of Mondovi’s Saint Mary of Vicoforte   Fig. 9.36. Flexion momenta obtained by Finite Elements, for the
(Pizzetti).                                                       restoration project of Saint Mary of Vicoforte (Pizzetti and Fea).

                                                                  building in ground plan and elevation. The irregular
                                                                  patterns of the adjacent spaces, the rate of alternating
                                                                  reburied columns and a general form of swell or soft
                                                                  surface, inaugurates a style that Borromini only dared
                                                                  to use on the outside. The straight line has disappeared
                                                                  and not even the arches are flat. This early church
                                                                  gathers all the typical elements of XVIIIth century
                                                                  Central European Baroque architecture.

                                                                  The Church of the Somasco in Mesina uses a starred
                                                                  pattern that would later be repeated in numerous
                                                                  works. It is interesting that on the outside there are
                                                                  no domes, only staggered blocks as in a ziggurat.
                                                                  The drum totally hides the main dome and the six
                                                                  supports of the dome are formed by the grouping of
                                                                  three columns (Fig. 9.39).

                                                                  In the Royal Saint Anne in Paris, dating from 1662,
                                                                  the series of Gothic ribbing arches define the main
                                                                  dome that, in addition, is developed in three levels.
                                                                  The drum, with its pairing rate, is treated as a face at
                                                                  ground level. The dome has a double starred pattern,
                                                                  in this case of octagonal type. And the third level dome
                                                                  is the only one that presents some conventional
                                                                  support for the high lantern. The great development in
                                                                  height is not done by elevating the drums and pointing
                                                                  the domes, as Pietro of Cortona had done, but by
                                                                  superimposing many levels. This way, the whole has
Fig. 9.34. Upward vanishing plan of Saint Mary of Vicoforte       a very Eastern appearance untypical of Italian
(Escrig).                                                         architecture. To complicate the work a bit more, the

                                                           The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.37. Project for the Divine Providence Church in Lisbon, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

Greek cross plan arms are covered with ribbed elliptical           outstanding ability, he succeeded in implanting an
domes in a geometrical interaction to be studied in                enneagonal modulation so as to erect a dome on three
plan (Fig. 9.40).                                                  transverse arches, with hardly any modifications in
                                                                   the constructed faces. The drum becomes complex
Dating from 1667, we find another surprising small                 with six paired columns ending in arches. From that
work, the Chapel of the Turin Shroud Sindone (Fig.                 point, the dome is closing by means of superimposing
9.41). In this case, despite its small dimensions, the             arches that always rest in the keystone of the inferior
15 m in diameter plan is enlarged in height to the point           level, doing this for six levels until arriving at a circular
of looking endless by means of the artifices that we               cornice on which rests a small dome of vegetal aspect,
are going to describe. When Guarini took charge of                 made of a mesh that lets the light of a small lantern
this chapel, it already had been built up to the first             pass through (Fig. 9.42a). The interior has a magical
cornice with an octagonal modulation. With his                     aspect derived from its structural bareness in which

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.38. Church of the Somasco, in Mesina, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

the forces spread along multiple arms as an unfolded             sixteen slender columns; in fact, it is practically like
fold-out (Fig. 9.42b). The exterior, with its waving drum        that, which demands a very light shell. Eight great
and its eastern looking ending, like that of a pagoda            concave arches on these columns transmit the loads.
with abutted hollows, is at least oneiric and surrealist         We know the disadvantages of these wedging arches
(Fig. 9.43).                                                     and for that reason they should be discharged. Cleverly,
                                                                 the cornice on them is straight, and from here start
We are not talking, of course, of dimensions that put            the four trapezoidal trumpet shells that conform to the
the structure under risk, but at least this is complex           four transverse arches supporting the small drum on
and reminds us of the aspects seen in Chapter 8 about            which the dome rests.
trimmered Chinese architecture.
                                                                 As is usual with Guarini, the dome is ribbed and,
The Church of Saint Lorenzo, close in style to the               although very cambered in this case, inspired by the
Chapel of the Turin S. Sindone, is even more                     Mosque of Cordova. There are sixteen starred bending
spectacular for being less sculptoral and having more            ribs that, by means of the trumpet shells, rest on the
architectonical definition (Fig. 9.44). It reflects too the      vertical of the columns. Between the ribbings there
influence of Borromini in Saint Ivo. In that case, the           are openings in all the spaces so that the dome
initial polygon is a hexagon and in this it is an octagon;       becomes a network that catches the sifted light. As in
in that case, the sides were alternatively concave and           previous cases, the thrusts of the ribs are derived
convex, and in this they are all concave. Once again,            towards the vertical by means of a drum load that hides
it made extensive use of the multiplicity of levels so           the curvature from the outside, allowing additionally a
that each one of them is a new surprise. It seems that           gigantic lantern, also solved with ribbings, and ending
at the ground level all the loads are transmitted by             in a cupola that is also perforated (Fig. 9.45).

                                                            The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.39. Project for the Royal Saint Anne, in Paris, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

Fig. 9.40. Chapel of the S. Sindone in Turin (Meek).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.41. Structural sketch of the S. Sindone in Turin (Escrig).

                                                                        Fig. 9.43. Structural system of the Turin S. Sindone in Turin, seen
                                                                        from outside (Escrig).

                                                                        build his fantasies with the same resources. The
                                                                        construction of Saint Lorenzo is well documented, so
                                                                        that we know that hollow ribs and chambered vaults
                                                                        were used (Fig. 9.46). Bernardo Vittone published in
                                                                        1737 a compendium of his teacher’s projects that
                                                                        proves his capacity for experimentation and his
                                                                        knowledge of geometry: there we find basilical plans
                                                                        like that of Saint Philippe Neri in Turin, which means a
                                                                        brief incursion in the longitudinal plan of unitary spaces
                                                                        (Fig. 9.47); or experimental projections of the same
                                                                        type (Fig. 9.48); or centralised plans whose spaces
                                                                        he governs with absolute mastery, as the Sanctuary
                                                                        of Oropa (Fig. 9.48); and even centralised regular plans
                                                                        never before experienced, like the pentagonal one of
                                                                        Saint Gaetano of Nice (Fig. 9.49) or the eliptical one
Fig. 9.42. Design proposal for the S. Sindone in Turin, from unfolded   of Saint Mary of Nice (Fig. 9.50).
paper (Escrig).
                                                                        The polynuclear plans are an unusual new way: Saint
                                                                        Phillipe Neri in Casale of Monferrato (Fig. 9.52) or Saint
                                                                        Gaetano of Vicenza (Fig. 9.53). Nothing like
We are studying in this text mainly the structural                      Leonardo’s bubbles plans, which submitted in hierarchy
aspects, so that we are not going to insist on the                      to a central one.
spatiality, the form and the light. But we must say
that this church is the ideal Baroque synthesis that in                 Also, in civil architecture he made great contributions
addition has an associated spaces complexity of the                     most likely influencing Central European palaces in
maximum interest. Guarini was an expert constructer                     Juvara or even the French ones, although it might be
who tried new constructive processes to allow him to                    that he was influenced by them.

                                                           The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.44a. Church of Saint Lorenzo, in Turin, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

The 1682 Racconigi Palace in Carignano, with its great            This work completes the Disssegni d´architettura civile
central hall illuminated from the ceiling, is an example          et eclesiastica from 1686, that had no text. In 1671
of this potential. The Carignano Palace in Turin, shows           he had already published Euclides adautus &
a tangent hall that will be an example for many others            methodicus mathematicae, a text of seven hundred
(Fig. 9 .54). The indirect illumination falling from above        pages and a summary of philosophical and
through a hanging ceiling rose stands out among other             mathematical ideas. In 1674 he published the mainly
details. Guarini shows that besides being a master of             practical text Il modo de misurare le fabriche, in fact,
geometry, construction, ornamentation and design, he              a book of measurements and valuations. Still in 1677,
was also one in light treatment.                                  he published the Trattato di fortificatione che ora si
                                                                  usa in Fiandra, Francia et Italia, in addition to theatre
We must also highlight his talent as a theoretician,              plays and works of literature. It is curious, among
since in his period of treatise writer he wrote about his         other things, that he calls himself Matematico
perspective discoveries and his representation                    dell´Altezza Reale di Savoia.
techniques, as well as his constructive discoveries.
Maybe he was not as good a draftsman as Borromini                 What happened meanwhile in other countries? In Spain,
or Bernini, but his capacity for planimetrical expression         the XVIth century had been flourishing and Charles V
was at least equal to that of the perspective and                 first and Philippe II later imposed an austere style that
scenography draftsmen of the time. His treatise                   made substantial contributions to the Renaissance.
Architettura Civile, published in 1737, fifty years after         The XVIIth century, as in the rest of Europe, was
his death, with drawings ascribed to the young                    chaotic. To the epidemics, famines, economic crises
architect Bernardo Vittone, summarises many of his                and failings of the colonial exploitation, we must add
designs in a way only obtained before by Palladio.                the incessant wars to defend the territories that were

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.44a and 9.44b. Church of Saint Lorenzo, in Turin, by Guarino Guarini (Meek) (Escrig).

                                                                    to be lost. The Herrerian style was kept in the centre
                                                                    of the country, whereas a decorativist classicism was
                                                                    developed in the periphery. It is not worth the trouble
                                                                    to underline anything from the space and structural
                                                                    point of view. In any case, Italian architecture is well
                                                                    illustrated with the books of Serlio, Scamozzi, Palladio
                                                                    and Vignola.

                                                                    In France the matter was different. Though there
                                                                    existed the same demographic and social problems,
                                                                    it was a country in a period of consolidation that from
                                                                    Henry IV to Louis XIV made a great effort to become a
                                                                    modern nation. The French Baroque has its particular
                                                                    characteristics. We have already seen the rejection
                                                                    of Bernini and Palladio, two extreme cases. On the
                                                                    other hand, the new state decided to keep out of the
                                                                    religious conflicts, not using therefore this type of
                                                                    architecture to materialise its great projects. The urban
                                                                    renovation and the civil buildings concentrated its
                                                                    activities. Mansart and Lemercier took some of
Fig. 9.45. Building detail drawn by Vittone for Saint Lorenzo, in   Cortona’s style, and were imaginative but never
Turin (Meek).                                                       baroque in the big castles (Fig. 9.55). They still have

                                                              The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.46. Saint Philippe Neri, in Turin, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.47. Sanctuary of Oropa, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

Fig. 9.48. Saint Gaetano of Nice, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

                                                            The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.49. Saint Mary of Nice, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

Fig. 9.50. Saint Philippe Neri, in Casale de
Monferrato, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).         Fig. 9.51. Saint Gaetano of Vicenza, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.52. Bubbles plans, by Guarini Guarini (Meek).

Fig. 9.53. Raccognini Palace, in Carignano, by Guarino Guarini (Meek).

                                                               The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

                                                                      a medieval concept of architecture by the lack of unity
                                                                      of the parts. Fig. 9.56 shows the project of a staircase
                                                                      dome by Mansart for Blois, dating from 1635, and
                                                                      previous to some Italian similar proposals. Fig. 9.57
                                                                      shows the plan of the Palace of Vaux-le-Viconte, from
                                                                      1657, out of which Guarini might have taken the idea
                                                                      of some of the palaces that came later. The scheme
                                                                      of Mansart for the burial Chapel of Saint Denís dates
                                                                      from 1665 (Fig. 9.55). This model would be followed in
                                                                      the Church of Les Invalides, initiating thus the three
                                                                      shells dome with indirect illumination scheme (Fig.
                                                                      5.58). This dome is 28 m in diameter and has a profile
                                                                      in catenary that anticipates that projected by Cristopher
                                                                      Wren ten years later with a very similar scheme.

                                                                      In England, the undisputed figure in this is Wren, his
                                                                      Saint Paul's Cathedral being the most outstanding
                                                                      work of those years in Europe. In this case, the dome
                                                                      was first projected in 1673, measuring 32 m in diameter
                                                                      and having the centralised cellular plan seen in Fig.
                                                                      9.59 in the denominated Great Model, whose scale
                                                                      model we can see in Fig. 9.60. Later on, this model
                                                                      was substituted by a basilical one with a very particular
                                                                      dome (Fig. 9.62) that avoided the buttresses to arrive
                                                                      finally at the present design, which conserved that plan
                                                                      (Fig. 9.63) but came much closer to Saint Peter´s
Fig. 9.54. Carignano Palace, in Turin, by Guarino Guarini (Escrig).   profile. In this design the dome is triple, as in The
                                                                      Disabled (Fig. 9.64), anticipating the final construction.
                                                                      The 32 m was not changed, and the knowledge of the
                                                                      pathology that was then appearing in Saint Peter works
                                                                      and the subsequent mathematical discussions seen
                                                                      in Chapter 6 gave much weight in the final profile

                                                                      The inner of the three shells is hemispherical with a
                                                                      big oculo, the following one is conical with a rounded
                                                                      vertex and the outer is a skin on a studwork (Figs.
                                                                      9.65 and 9.66). Wren was the scientific chairman of
                                                                      the Royal Society, of which Robert Hooke was then
                                                                      the secretary and Isaac Newton a member who later
                                                                      succeeded him. Therefore the importance that Wren
                                                                      attached to the tracing of the resistant curve that Hooke
                                                                      suggested to him to be that of the hanging thread
Fig. 9.55. Sketches by Mansart for the burial chapel of Saint
Denis (Toman).                                                        having a width equal to the diameter and the height of
                                                                      the whole building. This was a very cambered catenary,
                                                                      with a relation of 2:1, which tracing had to be within
                                                                      the central nucleus of the sections. This is not exactly
                                                                      so, but is the best that could be done with simple

                                                                      The general aspect is very classical and the Baroque
                                                                      concessions, being very clear in the Great Model, are
                                                                      hardly found in the final work. England never fully joined
                                                                      the Baroque craziness except for the features of some
                                                                      spaces. Ornamentally, the architects were severe and
                                                                      some Gothic elements never disappeared. Saint
                                                                      Peter's basilical plan itself was reminiscent of the
                                                                      Gothic cathedral which it replaced. We have already
                                                                      said that the religion of each territory defined much of
                                                                      the architectonic characteristics and England was not
Fig. 9.56. Dome of a staircase in Blois, by Mansart (Blunt).          in the catholic sphere.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 9.57. Palace of Vaux-le-Viconte (Blunt).

                                                           Fig. 9.59. Former project by Wren for Saint Paul’s, in London

Fig. 9.58. Church of Les Invalides, in Paris, by Mansart   Fig. 9.60. Wooden Great Model of the former project by Wren for
(Blunt).                                                   Saint Paul’s (Summerson).

                                                             The Perfect Symbioses Form-Function in the High Baroque Architecture

Fig. 9.61. Project with a cimborrio dome by Wren for Saint
           Paul’s (Summerson).

                                                                    Fig. 9.62. Approach to Wren’s final project for Saint Paul’s

                                                                    This work was finished shortly after 1700, a year that
                                                                    marks the separation between the High Baroque and
                                                                    the Full Baroque, which we will see in the following

Fig. 9.63. Sketch by Wren for a three shells dome (Summerson).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                                          REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 9

                                                                     1. ESCRIG, F. “Tecnología en los edificios históricos”.
                                                                         STAR, Structural Architecture nº 2, Universidad de
                                                                     2. HEINLE, E.& SCHLAICH, J. “Kuppeln”. Deutsche
                                                                         Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart.
                                                                     3. WITTKOVER, R. “Arte y Arquitectura en Italia 1600-
                                                                         1750”. Manuales de Arte Catedra. Ed. Cátedra,
                                                                     4. PIZZETTI & FEA “Restoration and Strengthening
                                                                         of the Elliptical Dome of Vicoforte Sanctuary”.
Fig. 9.64. Approaching to the catenary shape of the resistant            Domes from Antiquity to the Present, IASS
profile of Saint Paul’s dome (Summerson).
                                                                         Symposium, Istanbul, 1988.
                                                                     5. BLUNT, A. “Arte y Arquitectura en Francia 1500-
                                                                         1700”. Manuales de Arte Cátedra, Ed. Cátedra,
                                                                     6. SUMMERSON, J. “Architecture in Britain 1530-
                                                                         1830”. Penguin Books Ltd, London.
                                                                     7. ESCRIG, F. “Towers and Domes in Architecture”.
                                                                         WIT Press, Southampton.
                                                                     8. CASTEX, J. “Renacimiento, Barroco y Clasicismo.
                                                                         Historia de la arquitectura 1420-1720”. Akal Ed,
                                                                     9. BOSEL, R. & FROMMEL, Ch. “Borromini e
                                                                         l´universo Barroco”. Electa, Milano.
                                                                     10.WHINNEY, M. “Wren”. Thames and Hudson,
                                                                     11. MEEK, H.A. “Guarino Guarini”. Electa, Milano.
                                                                     12.CARDINALI, G. et al “The Dome of Basilica of
                                                                         San Lorenzo in Milano: A comparison between
                                                                         modern and ancient mathematical models”. Spatial
                                                                         Structures, Heritage, Present and Future. IASS
                                                                         Symposium 1995. Milan.
                                                                     13.CROCI, G. et al “The Dome of St Ivo della Sapienza
                                                                         in Rome”. Spatial Structures, Heritage, Present and
                                                                         Future. IASS Symposium 1995, Milan.
                                                                     14.MARK, R. “Architectural Technology up to the
                                                                         Scientific Revolution”. MIT Press, Cambridge,
                                                                     15.TOMAN, R. “El Barroco”. Köeman, Colonia.

Fig. 9.65. Sketch of the final project, wherein the catenary curve
going from the crowning to the base is stood out with a thickest
line (Escrig).

                                                                              Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century


In 1667, Borromini, undergoing a worsening in his men-          found its origins in colonial architecture, as happened
tal disease, voluntarily put an end to his life when he         with Portuguese architecture that could never get rid
was sixty-eight years old. Bernini survived thirteen            of the Manuelino Gothic. It was the Centre of Europe,
years and Guarini eleven; Pietro of Cortona was almost          including the north of Italy, with a catholic tradition,
contemporary. In a short space, the Roman architecture          that was the place where the Baroque expressed itself
was orphaned since neither Rainaldi nor Carlo Fontana           with the most oneiric, over elaborate and fantastic
had enough imagination, not even to be continuers of            forms. In any case, there was a perfect delimitation
the previous line. The continuation, whenever it took           between the centralist and lay states and the catholic
place, was no longer going to develop in Rome, whose            ones. In Italy, the Dukedom of Savoy, cleverly
vitality had flagged. On the other hand many political          administered by a government that obtained for Turin
facts of great importance had taken place. After the            the rank of a great city, stands out at this moment, as
death in 1700 of the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, a           well as Naples and Sicily, which under the alternate
series of European wars broke out, affecting all the            governments of the Habsburgs and the Bourbons,
main powers. As a result, the Bourbons settled in Spain         becomes an academy of future cultivated and modern
changing all its architectonic habits. Louis XIV of France      kings.
saw in his later years the fading of the greatness he
had worked so much for, and architecture became                 Therefore, 1700 is a decisive date for the changing of
mundane and over elaborated in what has been                    the Roman primacy.
contemptuously named, the Rococo. Germany
snatched from France all the Central European                   In 1707 Filippo Juvara, a Sicilian priest and draftsman
territories and began to be, by means of Charles VI, a          born in 1768, presented a project to be admitted as
frustrated aspirant to the Spanish crown, a great power         an architect in the Academy of Saint Lucas in Rome,
having its centre in Austria and dominating from the            that was made under the direction of Carlo Fontana
Netherlands to Milan and Naples, including Bohemia              and based on Saint Agnes of Piazza Navona, the work
and Hungary. It was England that got the most out of            by Borromini finished by Rainaldi (Fig. 10.1). The
the confrontations among all of them. Apart from                amazing thing is that in this academic project can be
consolidating its colonial empire, which had not existed        found the keys of the future style of a prolific and
until then, it kept the classic tradition, out of which         influential architect. A proof of his capacity for public
had come some of its distinguishing marks and best              relations, well known since 1701 when he organised
results. In fact, it turned its eyes to Italy to look for the   the decoration of Mesina for the reception of Philippe
most refined classicist samples, finding them in                V, the future Spanish monarch (Fig. 10.2), was the
Palladio.                                                       fact that in 1715 he was appointed First Civil Architect
                                                                of Vittorio Amadeo II, Duke of Savoy, after having
In this panorama, it is easy to set up a geography of           worked in a grandiose Royal Palace in Mesina to
the styles that characterises the Baroques different            develop the Church of Superga (Fig. 10.3) that evidently
proposals. The thread sets off from Italy but quickly           resembles his degree project.
submerges in the local particularities.
                                                                His ability as a draftsman, at a time when the
England evolved from Wren toward a bare classicism.             collectors leapt on illustrations and engravings with a
France proposed a complex and grandiose style, also             hoarding obsession, made him very popular. A
on the basis of a very classicist order. Spain, still too       superficial look at Superga reveals a deep classicism:
submitted to professional guilds, found it difficult to         orders of a rigorous Renaissance tendency,
get rid of Herrera’s style, and the Bourbon impetus             correspondence between the outside shapes and the
imported some derivations half Italian, half French. The        inner spaces, centralised plan of octagonal modulation
Spanish Baroque, which was so rooted in the country,            and Michelangelo buttresses. Although his origins must

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                    Fig. 10.3a. Juvara’s drawing for the Church of Superga (Bonet

Fig. 10.1. Juvara’s project for his Academy of Saint Lucas
examination, from 1687 (Bonet Correa).

Fig. 10.2. Decoration prepared for the reception of Philippe V in   Fig. 10.3b. Juvara’s project for the Church of Superga (Bonet
Mesina, in 1701 (Bonet Correa).                                     Correa).

be looked for in Borromini, as we have already seen,                the transverse arches until their keystones. The drum
his waving façades do not follow him. The access                    is extremely high and very bright and the dome is
through a columned portico, like a hall, and its                    double shelled, slightly cambered like those built by
connection to a back courtyard as that of Saint Ivo,                De la Porta, and with a springing perforated with oculos.
stresses and contradicts his belonging to the Roman                 The inner decoration is like that of Bernini, carried out
High Baroque (Fig. 10.4). Nevertheless, as for its                  by means of hexagons (Fig. 10.5). The towers
elevation, it is fully Baroque.                                     complete this baroque look.

For a start, inwards there is a giant order that surpasses          Anyway, Superga is not important for being a great

                                                                         Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

Fig. 10.4. Plan of the whole building of Superga (Bonet

                                                          Fig. 10.6. Building perspective of the Superga dome (Gritella).

Fig. 10.5. Section of the Superga dome (Bonet Correa).    Fig. 10.7. Preliminary drawings by Juvara for the project of the
                                                          Cathedral of Turin (Gritella).

structure, since the dome diameter hardly reaches         constructive possibilities. The Palace of Stupinigi is
ten metres, but for its grandiose look achieved with      an example of this (Fig. 10.9). Its centre is an elliptical
very few resources. Fig. 10.6 shows the constructive      hall resting on four buttresses with a gap between them
scheme that, obviously, goes without cradling.            of 15 m and a skin that wraps them without producing
                                                          niches (Fig. 10.10). The central dome is a conventional
If we enlarge the scale and focus the first project on    squinched one with such a painted architectonic
the Turin Cathedral (1726), we will see that this one     decoration as to look much richer than it really is (Fig.
also stays with the Saint Peter model (Fig. 10.7) in      10.11). In fact, the general decoration is painted, so
spite of the vertical unity that gives to the central     that the magnificence of the space is fictitious.
cylinder (Fig. 10.8). Juvara lived in permanent           However, there is a determination to stand the cornices
contradiction between his classic vocation and his        out more typical of Borromini than of Guarini who,
longing for newness. His vast architectonical culture     because of his geographical proximity, should have
makes him borrow from all the styles and his              influenced more. Stupinigi is a Full Baroque typical
expressive skilfulness bring him beyond his               model.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.8. Section through the transept of the Cathedral of Turin
                                                                      Fig. 10.10. Sketch for the main hall of Stupinigi. Drawing by Juvara

                                                                      If we compare Guarini´s Saint Philippe Neri (Fig. 5.47)
                                                                      with that by Juvara (Fig. 10.12a and b), we clearly see
                                                                      the difference. Guarini´s is more rigid in plan and
Fig. 10.9. General proposal for the Stupinigi Palace. Drawing by      imaginative in elevation. Juvara’s is just the opposite,
Juvara (Bonet Correa).                                                though the project finally built was very conventional.
                                                                      It is in the plans where Juvara looks more transgressor.
                                                                      In Saint Anthony in Chieri, for example, the absence
                                                                      of transverse arches gives the plan a unity that will not
                                                                      become general until the Central European Baroque
                                                                      (Fig. 10.13). Through this artifice, it seems that
                                                                      architecture accepts the inner space (Fig. 10.14).

                                                                      In the treatment of light, he also introduces innovations
                                                                      in respect of Guarini, by means of the light boxes
                                                                      system, which pours light vertically through the annex
                                                                      spaces. In the Carmine, having a very unitary plan
                                                                      (Fig. 4.15), the openings to illuminate the barrel vault
                                                                      are not solved with lunettes, but with domes with oculos
                                                                      in the side chapels (Fig. 10.16). His invention will be
                                                                      frequently used in the later Italian and Iberian

                                                                      Juvara was a scenographer before being an architect
                                                                      and this can be guessed from his architecture (Fig.
                                                                      10.17) since he always uses decorative skins and
                                                                      architectonical images by contemporary draftsmen on
                                                                      the construction. From Fernando Bibiena he took the
                                                                      liking to the 45º perspective, applying it even to some
                                                                      constructive elements such as cornered pilasters and
                                                                      chapels (Fig. 10.18).

                                                                      Turin’s architecture is important due to the influence
                                                                      that it had all over Europe. When Philippe V ascended
                                                                      the Spanish throne, Juvara was called to his court
                                                                      where, in just two years, he revolutionised the
Fig. 10.11. Aspect of the main hall of Stupinigi, in a contemporary   architectonical panorama together with an illustrious
painting (Bonet Correa).                                              group of Italian architects formed under his influence.

                                                                          Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

Fig. 10.12. Saint Philippe Neri project by Juvara (Pomer).

Proof of how freely plans could be carried through is        of Bernardo Vittone (1702-1770), a much later
Saint John and Saint Remigio of Carignano, a work by         architect. He studied too at the Saint Lucas Academy,
Juvara’s disciple Alfieri. It is an extremely curious        where he got his degree in 1732, going back to Turin
minimal church of toroidal shape and a 10 m span             in Juvara’s last years. His career, however promising,
(Fig. 10.19).                                                was outshone by other court architects’, cleverer than
                                                             him in public relations, so that he never had enough
To complete the Piedmont cycle we are going to speak         acknowledgements.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.13. Saint Anthony in Chieri (Pomer).

Fig. 10.14. Inner view of Saint Anthony in Chieri (Escrig).

                                                                                        Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

Fig. 10.15. Preliminary outline by Juvara for the Carmine (Gritella).

                                                                        Fig. 10.17. Juvara’s scenery (Viale Ferrero).

                                                                        Fig. 10.18. Ideal project by Juvara (Gritella).

                                                                        Fig. 10.19. Inner view of Alfieri’s Saint John and Saint Remigio, in
Fig. 10.16. Architectonic section of the Carmine (Escrig).              Carignano (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.20. Vittone’s project for the Chapel of the Visitation, in   Fig. 10.21a. Inner view of the Chapel of the Visitation, in Vallinoto
Vallinoto (Wittcower).                                               (Escrig).

He made lots of projects of little churches and chapels              easily accessible information.
for religious congregations and used his skill to exploit
the centralised plan possibilities to the full. It is a cliché       There is no foundation to accept, as insinuated, that
to say that he represented a balance between Juvara                  he was a little formed and provincial architect, and his
and Guarini since, in fact, he represented a new way                 scarce graphical skill was balanced by his constructive
that had very few continuers because, among other                    knowledge.
reasons, being at the gates of the neoclassical
architecture and in parallel to the rococo one, no one               Why do we spend so much time on an architect who
cared about his lucid dissection of the spatial                      hardly built anything of importance and whose
possibilities of an architecture so rigorous and                     developing period cannot have influenced the great
complex.                                                             European contemporaries? There were other more
                                                                     imaginative architects who wore themselves out with
In 1735 he was ordered to complete Guarini´s treatise                only one work.
“Civil architecture” drawing illustrations of his projects,
coming therefore into contact with Guarini´s approach                His first important work was the Chapel of the Visitation
and using at the same time a large amount of not                     in Vallinoto, from 1738 (Fig. 10.20). It is an extremely

                                                                                     Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

Fig. 10.21b. Structural section of the Chapel of the Visitation, in   Fig. 10.22. Sanctuary of Kappel, near Waldassen, by Dienzenhofer
Vallinoto (Escrig).                                                   (Norberg Schulz).

small piece, made of poor materials and extremely                     What is amazing in this project is the three shells
poorly finished. However, all these limitations are not               dome system. The first one is a floating starred mesh
enough to diminish the impression produced by its                     with bricked ribs, which behaves as a net to fish light
inner look.                                                           (Fig. 10.21a). The second one is a cap with an oculo
                                                                      over which falls a light torrent of which we do not know
This building displays two evident influences: Guarini’s              the source since it is the third one, slightly cambered,
plan and part of the dome system of Saint Ivo and                     that has six openings to illuminate that empty chamber
Juvara’s light treatment. He also completely eliminates               invisible to the observer. Between the first and the
the cornices continuity and even in the side niches                   second one there are some invisible illumination
leans them to give a depth and perspective sensation,                 hollows equivalent to the windows of a non-existent
whereby gets away from both of them. The two                          drum. The three side chapels are illuminated in vertical,
influences are obvious since he had known everything                  in three cases on balustered galleries, in the other
about Guarini when engraving his projects and                         three directly to the floor (Fig. 10.21b). The starred
witnessed Juvara’s finishing of the Carmine and its                   system, the hexagonal plan with attached circular
light boxes. Therefore, we must not be amazed at the                  niches and the ziggurat shape give a rigidity to the
matter.                                                               whole typical of a structures master.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.23. Sanctuary of Saint John Nepomuceno, in Saar
(Bohemia), by Aichel (Escrig).

It seems that Guarini was a very modest architect,
free of envies or ambitions and satisfied with doing
his works well, even when they were low budget
projects or placed in rural areas. Except for those
drawings made by us, the rest of them belong to the
treatises that he wrote at the end of his life: “Instruzioni
elementali”, published in 1760 and “Instruzioni diverse”,
in 1766, a time in which there were dozens of treatise
writers and, therefore, he could be of little influence.

When comparing this project to that of Dienzerhofer
in the Sanctuary of Kappel near Waldsassen, dating
from 1684, we can observe the different way of using
Guarini’s lessons (Fig. 10.22). In this case, all the          Fig. 10.24. Saint Louis Gonzaga in Corteranzo, by Vittone
contribution is just the four pieces of sphere macle           (Norberg Schulz).

                                                                              Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

                                                               Fig. 10.26. Saint Genevieve of Paris, by Souflot (Escrig).

Fig. 10.25. Saint Bernardino in Chieri, by Vittone (Escrig).

with three cupolas and the three towers that do not
give directionality to the building, as well as some
entrances through a covered exterior gallery of which
it cannot be guessed the main one. The cornice totally
breaks the lower level of the spheres springing and
the spatiality is poor despite the complexity of the
resources used.

Dating from 1719, in the Sanctuary of Saint John
Nepomuceno in Saar (Bohemia) a minor architect,
Aichel, develops a starred pentagonal plan. It too is a
heir of Guarini’s but has a larger spatiality and is very
corrupted with a Gothic decoration (Fig. 10.23). It also
has no directionality since each entrance, having a
ground plan with an odd number of sides, is in front of
a buttress. It too is an economic work, but this poorness
of resources matches the formal ones. The cornice,
which in the High Baroque is basic, has here been
substituted by a thick wooden handrail that plays the          Fig. 10.27. Chapel of the Church of the Assumption, in Priego de
same role.                                                     Córdoba, by Pedrajas (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.28. Former project for Saint Clare, in Turin, by Vittone
(Norberg Schulz).

                                                                   Fig. 10.29. Developed project for Saint Clare, in Turin (Norberg

Obviously, both designs are previous to Vittone’s and              in a pagoda and ending in a cupola. From the outside
in this case of similar dimension. But neither in the              it can look like a new variation. But now, the chosen
latter has got the right inner spatiality.                         model is the Chapel of the Turin Shroud. The ground
                                                                   plan is triangular and the three transverse arches,
Another of Vittone’s former works, but even more                   instead of curving outward curve inward, stressing the
modest, is Saint Louis Gonzaga in Corteranzo (1740).               triangular shape in which the resultant three niches
Vittone practices Guarini’s concepts (Fig. 10.24). As              correspond to the chapels and the walls hollowing is
in Vallinoto, he builds three bodies superimposed as               used as an access, placed in front of the altar and its

                                                                                    Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

                                                                     Fig. 10.31. Saint Clare, in Bra, by Vittone (Wittcower).

Fig. 10.30. Saint Clare, in Vercelli, by Vittone (Norberg Schulz).
                                                                     in this case but not a simple one. He repeats the
                                                                     scheme of Fathers Somascos Church in Mesina,
                                                                     which he knows well (Fig. 5.39), but giving it more
                                                                     power and perforating it with six oculos instead of six
                                                                     large windows since it is less cambered. The huge
                                                                     cupola adds an additional amount of illumination.
two side chapels. Again we find a clear axiality in ground
plan and in elevation. The three bodies correspond                   It cannot be said that the starred ribbings are the
firstly to the level of the pilasters and the columns                structural foundations of the dome since the cap works
ending in a powerful but repeatedly interrupted cornice,             in a rather continuous way and is hemispherical. But
secondly to that of the transverse arches behind which               the fact that the star points rest on the columns
are the light boxes and the pendentives, having only a               indicates a clarity in the transmission of forces that
window that crowns the entrance stressing the                        places this case far from the baroque temptation of
directionality, and finally to that of the dome, only one            contradicting the physical laws.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                Even when continuing unfinished works, Vittone
                                                                showed a special skill. In Saint Bernardino in Chieri,
                                                                of cruciform plan, he was able to place his typical
                                                                light boxes to perforate the adjacent spaces. Apart
                                                                from that, he has no special interest, though he initially
                                                                had worked (in 1740) on a more expensive church
                                                                placed in an urban area and tried, breaking the
                                                                pendentives that we will see below (Fig. 10.25).

                                                                The series of works that he created between 1740
                                                                and 1743 for the Order of Saint Clare, shows an endless
                                                                formal investigation on a recurrent objective that is
                                                                making the plan curves ascend in a curving way,
                                                                intertwining these species of branches with the light
                                                                filtered through hidden or concealed openings. This
                                                                implies a unitary conception not evident from the
                                                                outside since each body is hooped with a strong

                                                                This capacity did not have continuers apart from some
                                                                works closer to the Neoclassicism, as Souflot’s Saint
                                                                Genevieve in Paris, dating from 1757 (Fig. 10.26), a
                                                                work undoubtedly influenced by Vittone, though we
                                                                cannot know how since his treatise was published
                                                                three years later and the clearest precedent is Saint
                                                                Paul's in London. Nevertheless, we have to consider
                                                                that it was not finished until 1780, a year in which the
                                                                text was already published. Because of its total
                                                                conception of space, we look at the side chapel of the
                                                                Church of the Assumption in Priego de Córdoba, from
                                                                1784, by Pedrajas (Fig. 10.27).

                                                                More than the structure, it is the over-elaborate and
                                                                dense decoration which plays the role of foliage of
                                                                this vegetal dome, although the cornices are not
                                                                radically dispensed with since they exist and curve
                                                                forming a fake image of the plan. It is worth thinking
                                                                that Vittone may have influenced it in some way, since
                                                                the indirect illumination from several points of the
                                                                building makes it share the same architectonic
                                                                concept, a fact seldom appearing in Spanish
                                                                architecture. The dome is similar to that of Sergio and
                                                                Baco in Istanbul, ornamented with sixteen lobes
                                                                alternatively cylindrical and convex, on them the
                                                                windows are placed. Even in elevation the two levelled
                                                                series of arches are reproduced with a Byzantine
                                                                continuous gallery, following the scheme in Saint John
                                                                Nepomuceno (Fig. 10.23).

                                                                Saint Clare, in Turin, reproduced the hexagonal plan
Fig. 10.32. Present plans of Saint Clare, in Bra (information   scheme and the same light treatment as that in
supplied by the city of Bra).                                   Vallinoto, although in this case the dome has a single
                                                                though staggered shell (Fig. 10.28). The final project
                                                                has nothing to do with the rejected one (Fig. 10.29).

                                                                Saint Clare in Vercelli tries again the hexagonal
                                                                scheme (Fig. 10.30) with a curious development in
The light treatment is relatively conventional, though          which the side chapels are placed in an ambulatory,
again we find the light boxes over the three chapels.           separated only by columns, and the dome does not
In this case the decoration is simple but, nonetheless,         rest in its vertical but in its exterior covering, bending
we easily perceive that it is a late-baroque church.            the ribbings in their resting point forming purely

                                                          Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

Fig. 10.33. Inner view of Saint Clare, in Bra (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.34. Saint Mary of Plaza, by Vittone (Norberg Schulz).

decorative scrolls. This temple with concave hexagonal          credited with being the best of his works, synthesising
plan and ambulatory is a curiosity that cannot be found         all his findings: the double shell connected as a light
in any contemporary work.                                       filter, the vertical ascension of the elements, free of a
                                                                continuous planking, the conversion of the drum in a
The most complex of the three is Saint Clare, in Bra.           plan repetition and the total unity of the inner space
Its original project is extremely complicated as can            (Fig. 10.33).
be seen in his own drawings (Fig. 10.31), although
the project later carried out includes some variations          Another group of churches in which he performs more
that do not distort the exterior look but lend it a more        experiments is that leading to the breaking of the
potbellied aspect (Fig. 10.32). Saint Clare, in Bra, is         pendentives that makes the transition from the plan to

                                                                                  Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

Fig. 10.36. Saint Croce, in Villanueva de Mondovi, by Vittone (Norberg Schulz).

Fig. 10.35. Inner view of Saint Mary of Plaza (Escrig).           Fig. 10.37. Inner view of Saint Croce (Escrig).

the dome. This allows octagonal domes without the                 are reached without pathologies appearing (Fig. 10.35).
inconvenience of a springing cornice for support.
                                                                  In Saint Croce in Villanueva de Mondovi, he again
Saint Mary of Plaza, from about 1750, is one of the               planned with more success the same violation of
examples of that breaking (Fig. 10.34). We see that               architectonical laws, reaching the ideal of the vegetal
on the four transverse arches, the superficial structure          mesh mentioned above (Fig. 10.36). It is an intelligent
is interrupted by hollows. This is possible due to the            transition from the Greek cross plan to the octagonal
ribbed domes and that is why spans of almost 20 m                 drum (Fig. 10.37). In Saint Albert of Charity he repeated

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.38. Church of the Salzburg University, by Fischer von Erlach (Sedlmayr).

this, without adding anything to Saint Mary’s.                    and a project of regeneration on the basis of the
                                                                  Counter reform began, logically affecting architecture.
In all these works he has renounced his previous                  Catholicism consolidated Europe thanks to the
findings: the double shell and the illumination effects           Habsburgs with its heart in Vienna, the old European
and, although he had become formally more baroque,                capital that now needed to dress up. An architect
he had focused on the solid skeleton at the expense               formed in Italy under the direction of Fontana, Johan
of intuition and veiling. In a way it is a step back for an       Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, contemporary of Juvara,
architect to repeat the contemporary schemes                      assumed the direction of the new Austrian school, a
forsaking his brilliant beginning.                                prolific and particular school. In 1700, Fischer made a
                                                                  declaration of principles in the Salzburg University. We
His later works are elegant but do not add anything.              will not spend much time on that project too Italian
Vittone, who had been one of the great supports of                (Fig. 10.38): outward convex very luminous façade,
the Guarinian movement, declared in those years that              two towers in Borromini’s way, longitudinal plan and a
“the domes of the master are dark and difficult and not           high dome perforated in its sides. Fischer knows the
easy to cover”. What a surprise!                                  Roman architecture of the High Baroque perfectly, he
                                                                  had learned a lot during his stay between 1660 and
In 1683 the Turks finally failed at the gates of Vienna           1685, and takes basically Borromini’s and Bernini’s

                                                                                 Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

                                                                  Fig. 10.41. Church of the Castle of Smirize, by Georg
                                                                  Dientzenhofer (Escrig).

Fig. 10.39. Church of Saint Lawrence, in Gabel (right) compared
with Saint Lawrence in Turin (left) (Escrig).

Fig. 10.40. Pauline Abbey, in Oboriste, by Georg Dientzenhofer
(Escrig).                                                         Fig. 10.42. Gothic church of Karlov, in Prague (Kruban).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.43. Inner view of Saint Nicolas of Malá Strana, in Prague (Escrig).

                                                                                       Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

                                                                       Fig. 10.45a. Church of Saint Clare, in Eger. Fig. 10.45b. Church of
                                                                       Saint Margaret, in Prague (Escrig).

Fig. 10.44 Dientzenhofer’s project for Saint Nicolas of Malá Strana,
in Prague (Norberg Schulz).

elliptical space as the element that gives form to the
whole, though not in this particular project.

In spite of his name, Lucas von Hildebrant was
                                                                       Fig. 10.46. Generation of Dientzenhofer’s vaults from a sphere
Genovese by birth. Fontana’s disciple too, he knew
perfectly Guarini’s works because he had worked as
an expert in fortifications in Piedmont until 1696. He
was the other architect in charge of dressing up Vienna.
His Belvedere Palace equals in magnificence the                        church of Karlov in Prague has a 1575 hemispheric
Schönbrunn Palace, both have a Versailles touch. His                   ribbed cover that tries to be a replica of an older one
first work in Prague, the Church of Saint Lawrence in                  (Fig. 10.42).
Gabel, from 1699, is a replica of Saint Lawrence’s in
Turin (Fig. 10.39).                                                    Of all the buildings by the Dientzenhofer, the most
                                                                       successful, dating from as early as 1703, is Saint
The youngest of the Dientzenhofer brothers, Christoph,                 Nicolas of Malá Strana in Prague (Fig. 10.43), in which
visited Turin in 1690, bringing some ideas that allowed                walls and waving vaults completely dissolve the form
him, along with Georg, to revolutionise the Czech                      and soften the space. There are no longer groins but a
architecture. The same year, 1700, indicates the start                 curvilinear flow in which gravity does not appear to
of two key pieces: the Pauline Abbey in Oboriste (Fig.                 exist, seeming inside a cloud. Construction and
10.40) and the church of the castle of Smirize (Fig.                   painting are indissoluble, since the borderlines have
10.41), both belonging to the castle. They share one                   been erased due to the perspective of the fresco
thing, a long plan that recalls a mixing between Saint                 paintings (Fig. 10.44). These brothers represent for
Carlino (Fig. 5.6) and the Church of Propaganda of the                 Prague what Fischer and Hildebrandt did for Vienna,
Faith (Fig. 5.23), both by Borromini. The way of solving               and helped to consolidate the capital of a new fiercely
the vaults have changed, but not so much as it may                     catholic European state.
seem. In the first case we can refer to the Immaculate
Conception in Turin, by Guarini, not described in this                 One of the main characteristics of Dientzenhofer's work
text. The second case is a gothic inheritance that had                 is the extensive use of an elliptical vault plan to cover
much power in Bohemia. For instance, the octagonal                     longitudinal spaces by superimposing modules. We

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.47. Composition of the Dientzenhofers' spherical vaults

                                                                   Fig. 10.49. Church of the Monastery of Wallastatt, by Killian
                                                                   Dientzenhofer (Escrig).

                                                                   Fig. 10.50. Church of Karlovy Vary, in Karlsbad, by Killian
                                                                   Dientzenhofer (Escrig).

                                                                   have already seen it in Saint Nicolas and are going to
                                                                   see it in Saint Clare in Eger (Fig. 10.45a) and Saint
                                                                   Margaret in Prague (Fig. 10.45b). It is curious that
                                                                   the apparent complex tracing is no such thing since
Fig. 10.48. Adaptation of the system to Saint Nicolas (a), Saint   all the vaults are portions of a sphere and can be
Clare (b) and Saint Margaret (c) (Escrig).                         constructed with a thread. Apart from this, it has a

                                                                           Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

very favourable structural behaviour since the borders
are always reinforced by thick ribs not visible from the

In Fig. 10.46 we can see the generation of Bohemian
vaults that have the advantage of adapting to any
proportion of length and width and, therefore being very
narrow or very wide (Fig. 10.47). Fig. 10.48 shows the
adaptation of this system to three works by
Dientzenhofer: Saint Nicolas (a), Saint Clare (b) and
Saint Margaret (c). Both brothers use the same
procedure in opposition to Kilian, the son, who chose
unitary spaces.

Kilian Dientzenhofer and Baltazar Neuman were the
most prolific and skilful of the XVIIIth century second
generation of architects. Both of them used the
Bohemian precedents and occasionally repeated the          Fig. 10.51. Vaulting usual system of Killian Dientzenhofer (Escrig).
models of the brothers George and Cristophe.

The church of the Monastery of Wallastatt (Fig. 10.49),
from 1723, or that of Karlovy Vary in Karlsbad (Fig.
10.50), from 1733, use elliptical domes. But Kilian does
not feel comfortable with them. Many are the projects
in which, as his ancestors did, he uses the spherical
cap, basically supported by eight vertexes, regular or
alternately spaced out (Fig. 10.51). With this solution
he solves the covering of some of the best known
churches: Saint John Nepomuceno in Prague, the
Sanctuary of Nikov, Saint Adalbert of Pocaply, Saint
John of the Rock and many more. In other cases he
uses cylindrical forms, with even easier tracing.

Another second generation architect, Dominique
Zimmerman, uses the unitary elliptical form in a project   Fig. 10.52a. Pilgrimage church of Steinhausen, by Zimmerman
that recalls strongly Juvara in Stupinigi (Fig. 10.10).
The pilgrimage church in Steinhausen, from 1728,
though previous is a more baroque version of Karlovy
Vary (Fig. 10.52a). For a start, the number of divisions
is ten not eight, the chapels have turned into
ambulatories and the vault is a vegetal tangle on an
ellipse with ten legs. The relatively sober aspect of
the lower level contrasts with the motley look from the
pilasters planking. Maybe it does not represent a
structural challenge since its 25 x 12 m well buttressed
expanse even goes with an almost flat cambering, but
it implies a formal freedom that the author himself
would exploit in other works (Fig. 10.52b).

We have mentioned among the first generation figures,
Theodore Fischer, whose work in Vienna was influential
all over Europe. He was productive in all the
architectonic fields, including the archaeological one.
He was a disciple of Bernini and Fontana and a friend
of Juvara and Hildebrandt and knew Borromini’s work
well. Back in Vienna and after some consolidation
years, he clearly decides to go for the elliptical forms
in his civil and religious works.

His best known work is the church of Saint Charles         Fig. 10.52b. Volumes of the pilgrimage church of Steinhausen,
Borromeo in Vienna (Fig. 10.53), from 1715, that in its    by Zimmerman (Escrig).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.53. Church of Saint Charles Borromeo, in Vienna, by Teodor Fischer von Erlach (Sedlmayr).

formal emphasis cannot get rid of the continuous                 advanced with greater strides.
cornices that isolate the different spaces. In fact, it
does not add any structural innovation to the Vicoforte          In the Palace of Würzburg he tried his new systems
de Mondovi dome (Fig. 2.75) and is a very classic                in the splendid reception and dancing halls and in the
project, linked more to Bernini’s than to Borromini’s            chapel (1731-32) (Fig. 10.54), which in plan is to be
and agreeing with the French architecture. Even its              the intersection of four ellipses and a vault, the
size is not spectacular, though its high drum is in              tangency of three (Fig. 10.55). The spans are small
proportion the highest of elliptical form, which is not          (hardly 9 m.). In comparison with other palace chapels
much when steel banding are perfectly calculated to              such as Versailles by Mansart, from 1689-1710, having
absorb the horizontal thrusts.                                   12 m (Fig. 10.56), or that of Mafra in Portugal by
                                                                 Ludovice (1717-33), even more classic and leaning
The highest point is reached by Baltazar Neuman,                 toward the excess (Fig. 10.57), this work of Würzburg
who managed to use with an absolute freedom the                  stands out because of its constructive modesty, its
combination of elliptical forms that his predecessors            imagination and formal richness, and opens a new
had only been able to treat in isolated cases. In contrast       way of conceiving the spaces definition. From now
to them, his knowledge of Italian architecture comes             on, these are trapped by some gigantic hands whose
very late, since he does not do the classical trip of all        fingers are the pilasters that drive into the ground
the European architects until 1717. Pehaps that is               without any interruption. To make this possible the
why he was most influenced by his peers and decided              rat-trap bond vault was used, which is auto supporting
to surpass them with his proposals. From 1727 he                 with a minimum thickness and usually has a wooden

                                                                            Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

Fig. 10.54. General plan of the Palace of Würzburg.

Fig. 10.55. Neuman’s project for the Palace of Würzburg chapel (Freeden).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                       Fig. 10.59a. Project for the Sanctuary of Vierzhenheiling, by
                                                                       Baltasar Neuman (Freeden).

Fig. 10.56. Chapel of the Palace of Versailles, by Mansart (Escrig).

Fig. 10.57. Church of the Palace of Mafra, in Portugal, by Ludovice

                                                                       Fig. 10.59b. Constructive axonometry of Vierzhenheiling
Fig. 10.58. Outline of the Baltasar Neuman’s vaults (Escrig).          (Norberg-Schulz).

                                                                                 Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

                                                                    dustcover that isolates it from the inclement weather
                                                                    and overload, at the same time producing the fire
                                                                    protecting symbiosis of the delicate wooden roof
                                                                    (Fig. 10.58).

                                                                    The Sanctuary of Vierzhenheiling is a clear example,
                                                                    since the vaults become autonomous from the walls
                                                                    and anchor themselves to the floor (Fig. 10.59a). Again
                                                                    we find a little decorated lower part and the vaults
                                                                    concentrating the filigrees. All the levels are simple:
                                                                    plinths, columns or pilasters with only planking or
                                                                    cornices on them and, from that point, the fingers that
Fig. 10.60a. Main volumes of Vierzhenheiling (Escrig and Compan).   gather in the palm, a very painted vault (Fig. 10.59b).

Fig. 10.60b. Principal stresses of self-weight of Vierzhenheiling (Escrig and Compan).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 10.60c. Original drawing of the project of Vierzhenheiling (Hansmann).

                                                                                  Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

                                                                   Fig. 10.61b. Longitudinal section of Benedictine Church of
                                                                   Neresheim, by Baltasar Neuman (Escrig and Compan).

Fig. 10.61a. Benedictine Church of Neresheim, by Baltasar Neuman

                                                                   Fig. 10.61c. Volumes of the benedictine Church of Neresheim,
                                                                   by Baltasar Neuman (Escrig and Compan).

                                                                   Fig. 10.61d. Main stresses due to self-weight of the benedictine
                                                                   Church of Neresheim, by Baltasar Neuman (Escrig and Compan).

The Great Structures in Architecture

It is modest and poor but extremely effective                        The Benedictine church of Neresheim is his best
architecture. When walking along the wooden skeleton                 known work (1749). The rosary of tangent ellipses with
that makes the roof slope, you can see the bare brick                its huge central dome on eight autonomous columns
of the extrados of those elastic shells made of mortar               turn it into a spatial and constructive prodigy (Fig.
and ceramics (Fig. 10.60a). When observed from                       10.61). In this case, the pristine white interior,
below, an immense formal, ornamental and colour                      contrasting with the fresco paintings in the vaults,
richness is suspected that otherwise has a load                      offers an unexpected baroque contrast.
capacity (Fig 10.60b). Figure 10.60c shows the
precision in the previous design of military engineers               Neuman’s civil work is impressive too. In the Palace
and architects.                                                      of Würzburg he created some singular spaces of large
                                                                     structural value. The stairs vault, a rectangle of 30 x
                                                                     20 m. decorated with fresco paintings by Tiepolo, is
                                                                     the biggest of its kind (Fig. 10.62). Hildebrandt was
                                                                     so envious of him because of this skiffed vault that he
                                                                     said it would collapse if someone hung from it.
                                                                     Nevertheless, during the Second World War the whole
                                                                     palace was bombed, and this vault was the only one
                                                                     that kept intact.

                                                                     The other rooms were smaller but no less bold (Fig.
                                                                     10.63). The superior vaults are made of plasterwork
                                                                     hanging from a wooden skeleton, and the inferior ones
                                                                     are auto supporting.

                                                                     To end with Central European architecture, we want
                                                                     to mention the Church of Our Lady of Dresden, built
                                                                     during the years 1726 to 1743 by the architect George
                                                                     Bähr, it has more than its structural value because of
                                                                     the literature. Having been totally destroyed in the last
Fig. 10.62. Vault of the main staircase in the Palace of Würzburg,   world war and being in a process reconstruction, it
by Baltasar Neuman (Freeden).                                        provides us with a lot of information. Fig. 10.64 shows
                                                                     the complex vertical section, whereas Fig. 10.65, the
                                                                     horizontal sections at different levels.

                                                                     What we want to stand out is the bell shape tracing of
                                                                     the dome set (Fig. 10.66), justified by the need to
                                                                     introduce buttresses to balance the strong thrusts in
                                                                     the base (Fig. 10.67). Fig. 10.68 shows the relative
                                                                     scale in respect of Saint Peter’s in the Vatican, and
                                                                     his characteristic way of working, whereas Fig. 10.69
                                                                     illustrates the stresses obtained by means of a
                                                                     calculation by finite elements. Despite the existence
                                                                     of steel hoops (Fig. 10.70), it underwent an important
                                                                     pathology before the bombing (Fig. 10.71).

                                                                     We have not mentioned in this chapter the English,
                                                                     French or Iberian baroque. The first two have too
                                                                     classic an aspect and herald later events of the XVIIIth
                                                                     century. As for the latter, however interesting it may
                                                                     be, it gets exhausted in the decoration. Even the best
                                                                     Spanish architect of the time, Leonardo de Figueroa,
                                                                     is far away from the typological research. His church
                                                                     of Saint Louis of French has much subtlety, but its
                                                                     scale is that of a reliquary (Fig. 10.72).

Fig. 10.63. Main rooms in the Palace of Würzburg, by Baltasar
Neuman (Freeden).

                                                                                   Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

                                                                    Fig. 10.66. Contemporary engraving of the Church of Our Lady,
                                                                    in Dresden (Jager and Brebbia).

Fig. 10.64. Section of the Church of Our Lady, in Dresden, by
George Bähr (Jager and Brebbia).

Fig. 10.65. Horizontal sections in different levels of the Church   Fig. 10.67. Bell-shaped tracing of the vault support, to balance
of Our Lady, in Dresden (Jager and Brebbia).                        the horizontal thrusts (Jager and Brebbia).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                   Fig. 10.70. Old steel hoops in the vault of Our Lady of Dresden
                                                                   (Jager and Brebbia).

Fig. 10.68. A comparison between the shapes and the descending
loads of Saint Peter’s and Our Lady of Dresden (Jager and

Fig. 10.69. Analysis by Finite Elements and stresses obtained from the rebuilding project of Our Lady of Dresden after the bombings
(Jager and Brebbia).

                                                                                       Scenographical Architecture of the 18th Century

Fig. 10.71. Pathology of Our Lady of Dresden prior to its destruction   Fig. 10.72. Church of Saint Louis, in Seville, by Leonardo de
(Jager and Brebbia).                                                    Figueroa (Bonet Correa).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                           REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 10

1. BONET CORREA, A. "Andalucía Barroca". Ed.              Domes from Antiquity to the Present, IASS
   Polígrafa, S.A.                                        Symposium 1988, Istanbul.
2. BONET CORREA, A. "Filipo Juvara". Electa, Milan.   11. MEEK, H.A. “Guarino Guarini”. Electa, Milan.
3. CASTEX, J. "Renacimiento, Barroco y Clasicismo.    12.MULLER, W. “Von Guarini bis Balthasar
   Historia de la Arquitectura 1420-1720". Akal,          Neumann”. Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg.
   Madrid.                                            13.NORBERG-SCHULZ, Chr. “Arquitectura Barroca
4. CHARPENAT, P. "Baroque. Italie et Europa               tardía y Rococó”.Aguilar, Madrid.
   Centrale". Office du livre.                        14.NORBERT-SCHULZ, Chr. “Kilian Ignaz
5. COMPAN, V. , ESCRIG, F. & SANCHEZ, J. "The             Dientzenhofer e il Barroco Boemo”. Officina Edizioni,
   Shell structures of the Baroque". STREMA 2003,         Rome.
   WIT Press, Southampton, pp. 65-74.                 15.POMER, R. “Eighteenth-Century Architecture in
6. ESCRIG, F. “Towers and Domes in Architecture”.         Piedmont”. University of London Press Ltd, London.
   WIT Press, Southampton.                            16.SEDLMAYR,H. “Johan Bernard Fischer von Erlach
                                                          arquitecto”. Electa, Milán.
7. FRANZ, E. " Räume, die im Sehen enstehen".
                                                      17.STIERLIN, H. “Iberian-American Baroque”.
   Ed. Tertium, Stuttgart.
                                                          Taschen, Lausane.
8. FREEDEN, M.H. von. “Baltasar Neuman”. Deutcher
                                                      18.TOMAN R. Ed. “El Barroco". Könemann, Colonia.
   Kunstverlag, Munchen.
                                                      19.WITTKOVER, R. “Arte y Arquitectura en Italia
9. HANSMANN, W. "Balthasar Neuman". Dumont.               1600-1750”. Catedra, Madrid.
10.HRUBAN, I. “Historic Domes from Czechoslovakia”.

                                                                  The Virtual Architecture of the Renaissance and the Baroque

                                             Chapter 11. THE VIRTUAL ARCHITECTURE OF THE
                                                           RENAISSANCE AND THE BAROQUE

In the main altar of Saint Mary near Saint Satire in
Milan (1478), Donato Bramante did a brilliant exercise
of nave lengthening by means of a perspective artifice
(Fig. 11.1). It consisted on prolonging the coffered barrel
vault with a vanishing point placed at a very studied
height that was not that of the cornice. From the front,
you feel a sensation of depth hardly denied by the
physical reality (Fig. 11.2).

When drawing or painting, all the great masters used
their researches in perspective, whereby they could
recreate large buildings and gigantic structures
independently of their physical construction. Piero della
Francesca (Fig. 11.3), Albert Durero (Fig. 11.4),
Leonardo da Vinci (Fig. 11.5), Rafael (Fig. 11.6) and
other anonymous artists turned the quattrocento into
a universal laboratory.

We have already seen in chapter 9 how Michelangelo
virtually rebuilt the architecture of the Sistine Chapel
ceiling (Fig. 9.3) with a more than decorative objective,
since in his painting there was a whole architectonic
programme, apart from philosophical and other
concepts. The Sistine Chapel inaugurates too another
kind of perspective, the corrected cylindrical, instead
of the conical resulting from the applying of the
theoretical principles. This allows the observer to move
without leaving the focal references. Rafael though,
had a vocation for architecture that went beyond his
profession of painter (Fig. 11.7). Palladio had a clear
awareness of the spectators deception in his theatre
sceneries. His Vicenza theatre exploited in depth these
techniques (Fig. 11.8) that Sergio later interpreted even
as states of mind (Fig. 11.9).

The XVIth century was less fruitful since there was no
longer the worry about the architectonic background
in the painting. It was after the Council of Trento, when
the pedagogical and moralising function was again put
on the representation, that the virtual architecture
became important again. For this allowed grandiose
images with a very low budget.

Pietro de Cortona , in the first half of the XVIIth century,
best represents these tendencies. Architect and                Fig. 11.1. Main altar of Saint Mary near Saint Satire in Milan, by
painter, he managed to combine both arts in his                Bramante.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                   Fig. 11.4. Treatise of perspective by Durero. Print.

Fig. 11.2. Illusory view of the above altar.

                                                   Fig. 11.5. Sketch for the Adoration of the Magi, by Leonardo.

Fig. 11.3. Perspective by Piero della Francesca.   Fig. 11.6. The Virgin Mary Nuptials, by Raphael.

                                                                The Virtual Architecture of the Renaissance and the Baroque

Fig. 11.7. The School of Athens, by Raphael.

                                                             Fig. 11.10. Glorification of the Pope Urban VIII, by Pietro di Cortona.

Fig. 11.8. Section of the Theatre of Vicenza, by Palladio.

Fig. 11.9. Theatre set by Serlio.

designs. In the glorification of Urban VIII's papacy, he
developed a unitary tracing that made the walls higher
and the ceiling farther (Fig. 11.10). Domingo Canuti
is, with his Apotheosis of Saint Domingo, a complex
example in the second half of the century (Fig. 11.11).      Fig. 11.11. Apotheosis of Saint Domingo, by Domingo Canuti.

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 11.12. Perspective by Colona.                                  Fig. 11.13. Perspective by Ferrari.

Fig. 11.14. Ceiling of the Church of Saint Ignacio, in Rome, by Andrea del Pozo.

The list of examples is endless. Colona (Fig. 11.12)                It is in the Church of Il Gesu, by Vignola, where several
and Ferrari (Fig. 11.13) in addition introduce fantasy .            architects compete by experimenting with the virtual
                                                                    one. The proposal by Carlo Rainaldi basically is close
Andrea del Pozo, a good architect and clear-sighted                 to that proposed by Bramante two hundred years
enough to interpret the role that painting could play in            before. The successive spans of squinched or spherical
the space definition perhaps best systematises the                  vaults, we cannot identify them with precision, contrast
complex perspective systems that even nowadays                      excessively with the severity of the main nave (Fig.
amaze us at the multiple vanishing points and potential             11.15). This explains why it was rejected since, as
vision from any position. The ceiling of the Church of              seen in the assembly, it was unbelievable (Fig. 11.16).
Saint Ignacio in Rome not only has a focus but contains             Although several of the projects by Andrea del Pozo
a perfect definition of the orders and of the wall complex,         were better studied, they were not built. The most si-
which gets longer (Fig. 11.14).                                     milar to the executed work is that shown in Fig. 11.17

                                                                       The Virtual Architecture of the Renaissance and the Baroque

Fig. 11.15. Proposal by Rainaldi for the apse of the Church of Il   Fig. 11.17. Project by Andrea del Pozo for the apse of the Church
Gesu, in Rome.                                                      of Il Gesu, in Rome (Defeo and Martinelli).

                                                                    Fig. 11.18. Section of the mentioned project scenery (Defeo and
Fig. 11.16. Assembly of the mentioned proposal by Rainaldi.         Martinelli).

The Great Structures in Architecture

Fig. 11.19. Present aspect, with the decoration already finished,   Fig. 11.21. Breaking down into its elements of the alternative
of the Church of Il Gesu apse, in Rome (Defeo and Martinelli).      project by Andrea del Pozo (Defeo and Martinelli).

Fig. 11.20. Alternative project proposed by Andrea del Pozo         Fig. 11.22. Another alternative project by Andrea del Pozo for the
(Defeo and Martinelli).                                             Church of Il Gesu (Defeo and Martinelli).

which, in fact, is the less virtual (Fig. 11.18). Fig. 11.19        The great architect of the XVIIth century was Antonio
shows a picture of the present state. Other designs                 Bibiena, whose constructed work has a relative interest
for the same purpose, as that seen in Fig. 11.20, look              in contrast with his paintings that are magnificent. Fig.
too insipid. Fig. 11.21 shows its decomposition. In                 11.24 shows the perforated dome of the Church of the
contrast, that of Fig. 11.22 is too complex, as can be              Trinity in Pozsony, whereas Fig. 11.25 shows a design
seen in the Fig. 11.23 photomontage.                                to make the wall of a room deeper. His perspectives

                                                                        The Virtual Architecture of the Renaissance and the Baroque

                                                                     Fig. 11.25. Perspective of a room by Bibiena.

Fig. 11.23. Photomontage for the second alternative project (Defeo
and Martinelli).

                                                                     Fig. 11.26. Perspective at a 45º rotation, by Fernando Bibiena.

                                                                     at 45º form part, with those by his brother Fernando,
                                                                     of a valuable collection that became widely known (Fig.
                                                                     11.26). His family maintained the tradition in the
                                                                     following century (Figs. 11.27 to 11.29). The proposals
                                                                     by Fernando Bibiena and Bufagnotti for the vaults in
Fig. 11.24. Dome of the Church of the Trinity, in Pozsony, by        the XVIIth century, inspired numerous roofs (Fig. 11.30),
Antonio Bibiena.                                                     as well as those by Colonna (Fig. 11.32).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                       Fig. 11.29. Interior with staircases by Francesco Bibiena.

Fig. 11.27. Gran imperial logia by Fernando Bibiena.

                                                       Fig. 11.30. Composition in perspective by Fernando Bibiena and

                                                       Really interesting are those pieces that introduce non
                                                       existent domes in squinched domes. Fig. 11.33 shows
                                                       a proposal by Minozzi. In Fig. 11.34 can be seen
                                                       drawings by Schenk from 1728 and in Fig. 11.35,
                                                       Carboni’s. No doubt that Batista Piranessi is the best
Fig. 11.28. Gran atrium by Francesco Bibiena.          known of all the architecture draftsmen, but his work

                                                                  The Virtual Architecture of the Renaissance and the Baroque

Fig. 11.31. Vanishing perspective for a ceiling, by Bibiena.

Fig. 11.32. Proposal for a ceiling by Colonna.

                                                               Fig. 11.34. Proposals for a ceiling by Schenk.

                                                               was never used to widen the spaces with fake images.
                                                               As an architect he was mediocre and we have already
                                                               cited the recreation of his project for Saint John of
                                                               Letran, based on Borromini’s project (Fig. 9.16b).

                                                               As for its physical application to XVIIIth century
                                                               architecture, the results are fruitful. Let us remember
                                                               among the works mentioned in previous chapters,
                                                               Stupinigi’s decoration by Juvara (Fig. 10.11), See also
                                                               Steinhausen’s by Zimmerman (Fig. 11.36),
                                                               Steigerwald’s by Neuman (Fig. 11.37) and Saint Louis’
                                                               by Leonardo de Figueroa (Fig. 11.38).

                                                               This chapter cannot really be considered as structural
                                                               in a wide sense, though without a minimum knowledge
                                                               of construction none of these draftsmen or painters
                                                               could have produced what they did. Paper architecture
                                                               is a term whose meaning we know well in this century.
                                                               Undoubtedly, the Baroque adds a new dimension to
                                                               architecture not to be seen again until the arrival of
Fig. 11.33. Proposal for a ceiling by Minozzi.                 cinemas.

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                Fig. 11.36. Decorated ceiling in Steinhausen, by Zimmermann.

Fig. 11.35 Proposal for a ceiling by Carboni.

                                                Fig. 11.37. Illusory ceiling in Steigerwald, by Neuman.

                                                                      The Virtual Architecture of the Renaissance and the Baroque

Fig. 11.38. Illusory decoration in Saint Louis of the French, by Leonardo de Figueroa (Bonet Correa).

The Great Structures in Architecture

                                                                        REFERENCES OF CHAPTER 11

1. ADAM, R. "Drawings and Imagination". A.A. Tait.   3. CONTARDI, B. & CURCIO, G. "In Urbe Architectus:
   Q72 Adam 6. Cambridge Studies in the History of      Modelli, disegni, misuri. La profesione
   Architecture.                                        dell´Architetto". Rome, 1680-1750.
                                                     4. DEFEO, V. & MARTINELLI,V. "Andrea Pozzo".
2. BEAUMONT, M.A. "Eighteenth-Century Scenic            Electa, Milan.
   and Architectural Design. Drawings by the Galli   5. DEFEO, V. "Andrea Pozzo: Architettura e
   Bibiena Family". Art Services International,         illusione". Roma Oficina Edición.
   Alexandria, Virginia.                             6. GALLI BIBIENA, G. "Architectural and Perspective
                                                        Designs". Dover Publications, Inc., New York.

Digital Architecture                                           Structural Studies, Repairs and
Edited by: A. ALI, University of Seoul, Korea and              Maintenance of Heritage
C. A. BREBBIA, Wessex Institute of Technology,
UK                                                             Architecture IX
Digital Architecture is a particularly dynamic field that is   Edited by: C. A. BREBBIA, Wessex Institute of
                                                               Technology, UK and A. TORPIANO, University of
developing through the work of architecture schools,           Malta, Malta
architects, software developers, researchers, technology,
users, and society alike. Featuring papers from the First      This book contains most of the papers presented at the Ninth
International Conference on Digital Architecture, this book    International Conference on Structural Studies, Repairs and
will be of interest to professional and academic architects    Maintenance of Heritage Architecture. The Conference was
involved in the creation of new architectural forms, as well   held in Malta, a state smaller than many of the cities that
as those colleagues working in the development of new          this Conference has visited, and yet that is packed, in the
computer codes of engineers, including those working in        full meaning of the word, with a history of heritage
structural, environmental, aerodynamic fields and others       architecture that spans nearly six millennia - as far as we
actively supporting advances in digital architecture. Expert   currently know!
contributions encompass topic areas such as: Database          The islands of Malta have limited material resources, in fact,
Management Systems for Design and Construction; Design         only one - limestone, and a rather soft one at that. However,
Methods, Processes and Creativity; Digital Design,             out of this resource, our ancestor builders have fashioned the
Representation and Visualization; Form and Fabric; Computer    habitat for their lives, as these unfolded and changed over
Integrated Construction and Manufacturing; Human-Machine       the centuries. The problems and efforts that are being made
Interaction; Connecting the Physical and the Virtual Worlds;   to repair, restore, conserve and protect such limestone
Knowledge Based Design and Generative Systems; Linking         architectural heritage are considerable and mirror similar
Training, Research and Practice; Web Design Analysis; the      problems faced by other architects, engineers, curators, art
Digital Studio; Urban Simulation; Virtual Architecture and     historians, surveyors and archaeologists in other countries
Virtual Reality; Collaborative Design; Social Aspects.         throughout the world.
                                                               The papers featured are from specialists throughout the world
ISBN: 1-84564-047-0 2006 apx 400pp
apx £145.00/US$265.00/€217.50                                  and divided into the following topics: Heritage architecture
                                                               and historical aspects; Structural issues; Seismic behaviour
                                                               and vibrations; Seismic vulnerability analysis of historic centres
                                                               in Italy; Material characterisation; Protection and
                                                               preservation; Maintenance; Surveying and monitoring;
                                                               Simulation modelling; and Case studies.
                                                               Series: Advances in Architecture Vol 20
                                                               ISBN: 1-84564-021-7 2005 672pp

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Maritime Heritage and Modern                                         Earth Construction Handbook
Ports                                                                The Building Material Earth in Modern
Edited by: R. MARCET I BARBE, Maritime                               Architecture
Museum, Spain, C. A. BREBBIA, Wessex Institute of
Technology, UK and J. OLIVELLA, Universitat                          G. MINKE, Director of the Building Research
Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain                                      Institute, Kassel University, Germany

This book contains papers presented at two meetings with             “…a good introduction to earth as a viable building
many shared interests - the Second International Conference          material….well written and ordered in a way that makes its
on Maritime Heritage and the Fourth International Conference         content accessible to those with limited scientific and
on Maritime Engineering                                              technical knowledge. The reader’s understanding of the
The Second International Maritime Heritage Conference                subject is supported by the many useful diagrams, tables
brought together scholars and professionals from a variety of        and photographs.”
areas. In addition to scientific advances, the contributions                                                 JOURNAL OF
included in this volume discuss the future of historical harbours,             ARCHITECTURAL CONSERVATION
dockyards and other similar maritime structures in today’s
world, as well as the function of historical vessels and their                            “...interesting and well constructed.”
heritage value. The role of development schemes and the                                                        E-STREAMS
relationship between tourism and the preservation of maritime
heritage is also covered.                                            Refined, updated and expanded for English speaking readers
The papers from the Fourth International Conference on               from the author’s bestselling Lehmbau-Handbuch (1994),
Maritime Engineering, Ports and Waterways deal with topics           this book is unique in providing a survey of applications and
such as port management, the integration of transport aspects,       construction techniques for a material which is naturally
navigation, ship operation and multimode transport, information      available and easy to use with even basic craft skills, and
systems for ports and shipping, marine engineering works,            produces hardly any environmental waste. The information
hydrodynamic aspects, the construction and design of ports           given can be practically applied by engineers, architects,
and marinas, and the development of ports and coastal areas.         builders, planners, craftsmen and laymen who wish to
Emphasis is placed on the importance of the transport maritime       construct cost-effective buildings which provide a healthy,
mode in development and the requirements of making port              balanced indoor climate.
operation more efficient, safe and productive.                       Partial Contents: Properties of Earth as a Building Material;
                                                                     Rammed Earth Work; Earthblock Work; Large Blocks and
Series: Advances in Architecture Vol 19
                                                                     Prefabricated Panels; Loam Plasters; Weather Protection
ISBN: 1-84564-010-1 2005 512pp                                       of Loam Surfaces; Repair of Loam Components; Designs
£179.00/US$286.00/€268.50                                            of Particular Building Elements.
                                                                     Series: Advances in Architecture, Vol 10
                                                                     ISBN: 1-85312-805-8 2000 216pp
                                                                     b/w diagrams & photographs

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Structural Design of Retractable
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US$148.00/€142.50                                                 The Conservation and Structural
                                                                  Restoration of Architectural
                                                                  Theory and Practice
                                                                  G. CROCI, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, Italy
Maritime Heritage
Editors: C.A. BREBBIA, Wessex Institute of                        “The book should be seen and known about by all engineers
Technology, UK and T. GAMBIN, University of                       and architects who are developing their work in the field.”
Malta, Malta                                                                                       THE STRUCTURAL
Papers from the First International Conference on Maritime
Heritage. Topics covered include: Cultural Heritage Issues;       “...instructive and fascinating.... The excitement and
Underwater Heritage; Historic Ports; Maritime History; and        challenges of preserving and stabilizing historic buildings is
Ship Preservation and Ship Wrecks.                                captured by this very readable book.”
Series: Advances in Architecture, Vol 15                                          JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURAL
ISBN: 1-85312-964-X 2003 212pp £85.00/
                                                                  Designed for use by all professionals involved or interested in
                                                                  the preservation of monuments, the purpose of this book is
                                                                  to contribute to the development of new approaches in the
                                                                  Many of the examples examined, including the Colosseum,
                                                                  the Tower of Pisa and the Pyramid of Chephren, are the
Towers and Domes                                                  result of work carried out during Giorgio Croci’s distinguished
                                                                  career. Featuring numerous black and white photographs and
F. ESCRIG, University of Sevilla, Spain
                                                                  illustrations by the author, the text is divided into two main
Describing the evolution of towers and domes from a               sections entitled The Scientific Approach to the Study of
structural viewpoint, this highly illustrated book is written     Architectural Heritage and Structural Analysis of Masonry
as two essays running parallel, one textual, the other graphic.   Buildings.
Series: Advances in Architecture, Vol 4                           Series: Advances in Architecture, Vol 1
ISBN: 1-85312-437-0 1998 120pp                  £59.00/           ISBN: 1-85312-482-6 1998 272pp                 £148.00/
US$95.00/€88.50                                                   US$237.00/€222.00
Structural Studies, Repairs and                                   Structural Studies, Repairs and
Maintenance of Heritage                                           Maintenance of Historical
Architecture VIII                                                 Buildings VII
Editor: C.A. BREBBIA, Wessex Institute of                         Editor: C.A. BREBBIA, Wessex Institute of
Technology, UK                                                    Technology, UK
This volume features papers from the eighth international         “...the book is well suited for the bookshelf of the structural
conference in this respected series.                              engineer….very scientific and well compiled and has some
Over 80 papers are included and these cover topics such as:       authoritative and worthwhile conclusions on many of the
Historical and Architectural Aspects; Deterioration, Protection   topics that have been under investigation. This book is also
and Evaluation of Materials; Simulation and Modelling;            seen as a valuable aid and source of reference to those
Structural Issues; Prevention of Structural Damage; Seismic       engaged in laboratory and research work on the conservation
Behaviour; Case Studies; Maintenance and Repairs; Material        and care of historic buildings.”
Problems; and Timber Constructions. Contributions to two                                           BUILDING ENGINEER
special sessions on The Structural Conservation of the
Archaeological Heritage of Italy and Long Term Behaviour of       The proceedings of the Seventh International Conference
Masonry Structures: Learning from Failures, are also featured.    on Structural Studies, Repairs and Maintenance of Historical
Series: Advances in Architecture, Vol 16
                                                                  Series: Advances in Architecture, Vol 13
ISBN: 1-85312-968-2 2003 864pp £259.00/
US$409.00/€388.50                                                 ISBN: 1-85312-869-4 2001 736pp £229.00/

The Revival of Dresden                                            Historical Buildings of Iran
Editors: W. JÄGER, Technical University of
Dresden, Germany and C.A. BREBBIA, Wessex                         Their Architecture and Structure
Institute of Technology, UK                                       M.M. HEJAZI, Queen Mary and Westfield
                                                                  College, University of London, UK
In 1945 the ancient City of Dresden was destroyed by massive
bombardments and much of its rich architectural heritage          The first authoritative work to investigate the historical
appeared to have been obliterated forever. Over the last          buildings of Iran from the perspective of structural
half-century, however, Dresden has been lovingly                  engineering.
reconstructed with the active collaboration of its citizens.      Series: Advances in Architecture, Vol 2
This process, now culminating in the rebuilding of the
                                                                  ISBN: 1-85312-484-2 1997 168pp                   £67.00/
Frauenkirche (the Church of Our Lady) is documented in this
unique book.
Partial Contents: THE REVIVAL OF THE CITY: The
Contribution of Preservationists to the Reconstruction of the
                                                                                        WIT eLibrary
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The Reconstruction of Taschenberg Palace; The Conservation         Home of the Transactions of the Wessex Institute,
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