Model lab in Built Environment class


 Articles written by Chelsea Corcoran and Anna Broverman

This week in the class “The Built Environment of Florence” of prof. Elisabetta Morici we had a chance to put some of our knowledge of the dome of Florence’s cathedral into practice. Before we began the lab, guest lecturer arch. Stefania Cottiglia spoke to us about the dome. She told us about the different kinds of arches and through demonstration showed us how the pointed arch was the only solution for the dome of the cathedral .



After we went to make our own paper versions. We began with sheets of paper printed with the shapes that would make up our domes. We had to make sure to be very precise in cutting out the shapes, or the dome would not come together correctly. After carefully cutting out all the parts we were ready to begin construction. We started with the base and then glued the walls on. Unlike the actual dome our domes only had one layer, and they required two people to glue them together. As long as the pieces were cut correctly they fit together rather well.

The lab was a good way to get a better understanding of the shape and construction of the dome. It allowed us to visualize the dome beyond the pictures we saw in books and during class. The demonstration beforehand also gave me a better understanding of why the dome could only have been constructed using a pointed arch. This lab gave us a chance to step into Brunelleschi’s shoes—as much as a paper dome would allow—and see for ourselves the genius of his design.

Chelsea Corcoran


Today in class we built miniature models of Brunelleschi’s dome.
First an architect came and explained to us the evolution of the arch and how arches eventually led to domes. She then used wooden building blocks to show us why Brunelleschi was forced to use a pointed dome instead of a hemispheric dome. After the lecture we used paper cut outs to create our own small version of the dome. We started at the bottom gluing the base, arches and eventually the lantern. Building our own dome was really fun and a cool way to learn about an important structure.

Anna Broverman