The Mini-Dome

Curious Florence

Samantha Vaughn
February 9, 2017 - 16:43

The secrets of Brunelleschi’s famed dome have puzzled architects, engineers and enthusiasts for centuries. The towering cupola dominating Florence’s skyline continues to dazzle tourists, but not many know about the scale replica underway just outside the city centre. To uncover the mystery of Brunelleschi’s techniques, Massimo Ricci, the foremost expert on the Renaissance genius and his dome, set out to construct a 1:5 scale model of the structure several years ago, with the help of University of Florence students.


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The ambitious project is the culmination of years of studying the dome, archival documents and wooden scale models of the cranes Brunelleschi used in the 15th century. Ricci has been employing the same techniques used in the original construction, which has helped him to better understand Brunelleschi’s creative process. Every so often, Ricci will discover another one of Brunelleschi’s secrets, like how the architect cleverly kept the bricks on all eight sides of the dome curving at the same angle. Construction is still underway, so anyone interested in marvelling at these engineering techniques can get a glimpse of Ricci’s work in Parco dell’Anconella, on the outskirts of Florence.

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