History of Innovation

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1420: Duomo – S. Maria del Fiore – Florence, Italy

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Innovation: Largest brick dome in the world
Location: Florence, Italy
Year: 1420
By: Filippo Brunelleschi

The construction for the S. Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy began in 1296 and was finished in 1462. Originally the cathedral had a wooden dome, but in 1419 Filippo Brunelleschi won a design competition for a new dome to be built.  Construction on the dome began in 1420 and was completed in 1436. The dome is 176 feet in diameter and 295 feet in height. It weighs 37,000 metric tons and is made up of over 4 million bricks.  At the time of its completion it was the largest cathedral in Europe and had room for up to 30,000 people. Today it still holds the record for the largest brick dome in the world.

Brunelleschi had many innovative solutions that made this dome possible to build. His double-walled design of the dome came from the Pantheon in Rome. The double-walled dome rests on a drum which allowed for the dome to be constructed without using scaffolding from the ground. The use of tension chains at the circumference of the dome  help stabilize the massive dome. This carved the path for ideas of structural reinforcement, such as reinforced concrete.

Sources: [1] , [2] , [3]


Written by Clint Woods

October 8, 1420 at 10:22 am

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