Architectural Domes – Beyond the Sphere
By Collin Davis Platinum Quality Author
Domes are commonly defined as features that are shaped like the upper half of a sphere. Throughout the years, designers have implemented their own changes and variations to the classic dome design, making the appearance of architectural domes more varied and diverse. This article will describe a few of the more common types of architectural domes that consist of more than just a hollow half sphere.
These types of interior domes are characterized by their overlaid web of crossed supports. When these are arranged properly, a series of recessed areas called coffers is the result. The coffers of these architectural domes are usually shaped like squares, rectangles, or octagons. These interior domes may be highly ornamented; some even feature stained glass coffers. Many, though, are simple in terms of their color and design. Whatever their appearance, the varied texture of these architectural domes always provides variety to building interiors. Undoubtedly the most famous coffered dome is the one found in the Pantheon in Rome.
Cupolas are exterior domes that are used to crown roofs, churches, bell towers, or larger domes. Derived from the Latin word for small cup, cupolas have a number of features that set them apart from other types of architectural domes. These specialized exterior domes are often illuminated, serving as a beacon of sorts when placed on top of churches and hotels. In some cases, cupolas contain windows make of traditional or stained glass. Some owners of hotels and resorts also make these exterior domes accessible to guests since the location of cupolas often provides breathtaking panoramic views.
Eye catching and often brightly colored, these exterior domes generally taper to a point, resembling the food after which they are named. These bulbous exterior domes are often part of the design of Orthodox churches, and appear frequently in Russian, Indian, and Arabic architecture. India’s awe inspiring Taj Mahal features a massive onion dome that serves as the building’s focal point.
Exterior domes must be strong, but the sole purpose of interior domes is to make indoor spaces more attractive. Therefore, the beauty of these types of architectural domes is always the main concern. Interior domes can feature the classic half-sphere design, but they can also be rectangular, oval, octagonal, or virtually any other shape. Some interior domes are crafted of stained or translucent glass, many are embellished with abstract patterns or paintings, and others are adorned with rosettes and architectural medallions, which provide color and texture to otherwise plain interior domes.
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