Why domes on my atelier? Why not a simple classical roof with roof tiles? The answer is simple.
Because I like domes. I always have liked them. Domes create space, domes create harmony, domes are organic, domes have curves, domes are feminine.Very feminine according to Kelvin Kline in the comic film “A fish called Wanda”. Looking at the breasts of Jamie Lee Curtis he speaks ( after 1m52 sec.) about the Cupulo Grande de cathedrale di Milano…
But let me tell something about domes that influenced me. First of all there are those charming Greek domes. You see them everywhere in Greece. They are play full, sometimes crisscross build on slopes. The colorful domes on white plastered walls in shinning contrast to the blue mediterranean sky. Where in western Europe domes are more used on big churches, cathedrals and other important buildings, in Greece, little hidden churches or privat houses can have a dome or sometimes more than one.Generally the domes are not decorated. Just round and smooth plastered. Southern Aegean village of Oia perched on Santorini crater rim is one of those villages.
White-washed houses and blue domes on cliff top are just so typically Greek
Mentioning cathedrals. The cathedral of Florence has the biggest dome of all. The dome (1420-1436) was revolutionary in its design.It is one of the highlights of Italian renaissance. The architect was Filippo Brunelleschi. With a height of 107 meters and a diameter of more or less 45 meters it is impressive.The dome has two shells. The inner one is a sphere and the outher shell is more concave. The inner shell is the support of the outher shell. Between the shells is a stair of 463 steps that spirals up to the top of the dome. It gives a weird feeling walking there. You see clearly the inner wall curving away to the center of the dome, the outher wall leans more and more towards you. More and more you are aware that you are somewhere on top op that dazeling high ceiling you saw downstairs. I could not help questioning if those old stones could hold my extra weight. After all the domes weighs a 37 000 000 kg. My 80kg by that time could be the drop that overflows the bucket…in my next blog I will write some anecdotes about the construction of this dome.
Another dome that is beautiful we find in Nepal. Close to Kathmandu is Bodhnath.It is one of the world’s largest Buddhist stupas, and the centre of Tibetan Buddhism outside of its home country. During my trips to Nepal, it was one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon just walking around and observing the way of life. The painted eye of Budha is looking in all directions. Endless streams of colorful prayerflaggs wave in the air. Monks, pelgrims, tourists it is full of people. Mumbling Buddhists with prayermills “omani padme hum”, Sounds of monastery music end jet the overall impression is tranquility. A calmness that slows down your heartbeat. Namaste.
My favorite dome is the Pantheon in Rome. For 1300 years long the biggest in the world. -And still the biggest of un- reinforced concrete. Build by the Romans between the years 118 and 125. Can you believe? It is still there. And it is still amazing. Why I like this one so much. It is because for me it has the perfect balance of height and width. The diameter of the dome is 43,30 meters and the distance floor to ceiling is also 43,30 meters.You could place place a ball of 43,30 m. diameter in the building. You could place the whole inner structure in an imaginary cube with ribs of 43,30 meters. (take in mind the famous drawing of Leonardo da Vinci, the vetruvian man, a man with spreaded arms and spreaded legs in a circle in a cube) It is this harmony in the structure why I like the Pantheon. The other reason is, the dome is kept sober. Apart from the functional square cassettes (to reduce the weight ) there is no decoration on the ceiling. This way it is the architecture it self that speaks to the imagination. And then there is that strange hole in the top. The occulus. The sunlight shines like a pilar of light in the dome. This humbleness in decoration apeals more to me than those until the last square cm ornamented, painted, mozaiked and guilded ceilings of famous cathedrals and mosques. It is simply other kind of beauty.
Now, on top of my atelier will be two very modest domes. The diameter will be a around five meters , the height around 3,5 meters. Very modest indeed. But a dome is a dome.