Brunelleschi's Dome

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Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the geniuses of the Italian Renaissance. He raised the biggest dome of the time period and along the way created other inventions that eased the process. Filippo has been referred to as an architect and engineer. However, Filippo mostly demonstrated his gifts at engineering during his lifetime. Engineering is the art or science of making practical applications of knowledge of pure sciences. Filippo used his knowledge of the sciences to build the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.

Before Filippo began construction of the dome he traveled to Rome. In Rome he and Donatello, a close friend, studied the ancient ruins of the Romans. They studied the Pantheon, which was the biggest dome in the world at the time. They studied the sciences behind what made the dome stand and performed calculations to prove their theories. Filippo eventually returned to Florence with this knowledge and soon after gained commission for the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore. This dome was supposed to be bigger than the Pantheon making it the largest dome to ever stand.

Before construction many challenges faced Filippo. How does one support the highest and widest dome ever built? If it is possible, how will they raise the heavy materials to these extreme heights? Filippo had ideas however, different from other artisans at the time. Filippo believed that he could raise the dome without any centering. Wooden centering was a common solution to this problem during that time period. This centering solution proposed two problems one which could not be overcome. The first was that he could not figure out a way to remove the wooden centering after the dome was complete. The second reason could not be ignored, for there was a timber shortage in Florence and not enough timber could be produced. Filippo believed that if he could align the dome at just the right height and width and with enough pressure to withstand gravity that it would be able to stand without the...
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