Blue’s Top Five Domes!

At the start of spring we asked our lovely patrons what they wanted to see more of on the channel, And I… honestly do not know what Red and I should have expected. So ever loyal to the discerning taste of our audience, let’s make fun of some art. Shall we? Domes, or as they’re known by their technical name decapospheres, are super pretty so let’s run down the list starting with number 5: The Louvre Abu Dhabi. This bad boy is composed of over 400,000 individual parts and weighs over 12,000 tonnes. That is literally heavier than the entire Eiffel Tower. Not only that, but the whole thing moves, casting light and shadow over the exhibitions inside at strategic intervals. This hunk of metal is probably the most inefficient way possible to cover a museum and it- *sigh* it doesn’t even cover most of the museum! It’s nonsense and I love it. It’s honestly so shallow it’s barely a dome, but it’s rocking like eight layers of geometrical patterning, so I guess if you add the total curvatures together you get like a domier… dome? Is that… is that math? Seriously, someone tell me, I graduated in classics. [Red: Not even a little bit.] Anyway, I love this thing because it completely shatters your expectations for what a dome is supposed to be –and how heavy and how functional a dome is supposed to be– but it’s still somehow gorgeous. You know what this thing is? This is a kaleiDOMEscope. It may be madness, but I tell you, it is *perfect*. Clocking in at number four is Sultan Ahmed’s Mosque in Istanbul. Created in the early 1600s by the architect Mimar Sinan, this beauty is the world’s leader in being misidentified as the Hagia Sophia. I mean I get it, both in Istanbul, both have vaguely the same dome-like shape, but come on! They’re entirely different colors. The other one is pink! And I for one will not stand for this blatant Sultan Ahmed erasure. This dome is exquisite. It’s an aesthetically innovative monument to the greatness of the Ottoman empire that pays a beautiful homage to Constantinople’s long history. And it’s blue! I mean look at the inside of this place, it’s colossal! It’s insanely intricate but it’s also such a comfortable space and, again, blue. Don’t get me wrong. Hagia Sophia is great, but between the Byzantine mosaics and the giant Muslim iconography it feels a little bit inconsistent and stiff and also it really needs a wash it’s been like five hundred years. The Blue Mosque is one: blue, again very important to me personally, and two: it’s still rocking a unified design philosophy inside and out Good! Dome! Coming at you with number three is the Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was built at the turn of the 20th century to commemorate Bulgaria’s independence from the Ottomans and give thanks to the Russian Empire for their military support and it’s one of the most magnificent Orthodox churches you’ll find anywhere. I like this one because it has many domes, each somehow domier than the last. We’ve got that sweet golden green combo hitting us with the Byzantine influence but keeping it nice and modest with the soft greens and light stone. Now let’s get DOME to business. Front tower? Domes. Side entrance? Domes. Domes? Dome. Side domes? Domes. Windows? Windowdome. Doors? Domes too. Window-ception? Also domes. Cross sectional geometry? Guess what? Dome! It’s quite literally domes all the way down and I love it. Yeah, I really don’t have a lot to say about this one I just, it’s… it’s a fractal of domes. That’s… that’s pretty much all I got. Our second place piece for you today is one of my absolute favorites The Roman Pantheon. Among the most important works constructed during the building program of Emperor Augustus The Pantheon was rebuilt after a fire by Emperor Hadrian, and it’s a testament to the frankly ludicrous quality of Roman engineering. The dome was cast all at once out of a gigantic mold and it’s made from concrete that contained volcanic ash from Vesuvius. I guess they just casually found out that volcanic ash radically increases the strength of your concrete. You know, like you do. Weight is also conserved in two key ways as the dome itself tapers and thickness towards the top But they’re also a bunch of these cool little square jobbies here that take huge chunks of the weight out. I’d imagine that after the original dome collapsed, they took a good hard look at the design process so as not to screw it up again, and hey, it worked! It may also go without saying but if you haven’t noticed there happens to be a HOLE in the roof. What kind of wacky 5D math were the Romans doing to figure out that they could just leave an oculus the size of an elephant in the top of this extremely heavy structure and just have it be chill? That goes against the entire concept of keystone archway design (which the Romans pioneered earlier by the way), so just imagine the confidence of the architect who said, “No no no, no, trust me. This’ll work.” I sure wouldn’t believe them. Still sure enough the Romans figured out that when you’re doming in 3d you can build a brick ring around the top of the concrete and it’ll work just like a keystone even with a big-ass gap in it. But here’s the most insane part, depending on the orientation of the Sun, based on time of day and time of year, the beam of light that flows in will dance around the room and uh, you see, somehow, they managed to calculate it so that the light shines out the front door of the temple at noon on the anniversary of Rome’s founding. Just a little Easter egg they threw in you know? Super cas. *sigh* Guys, come on. Save some smart for the rest of us, will ya? Now before I unveil my number-one spot, let’s take a look at some honorable mentions: Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. I like it. It’s shiny. I don’t know. What do you want from me? Jefferson Memorial DC. This is classic America. What if Pantheon, but bigger? Ahhh perfection. What the hell is this? A full sphere? Are you fUC- Final honorable mention is those adorable blue domes on top of the houses and churches in Santorini rocking that classic Greek blue and white. That is some S tier national branding. And finally we come to number one on our list the United States Capitol- NO of course, it’s the Florence Duomo! What do you take me for? Ahh the Duomo. Here’s a structure that was conceived at the turn of the 1300s, before Dante had even been exiled and was built up through the century until the citizens of Florence decided that they wanted a giant octagonal dome they straight up had no way of actually building. Too expensive, not enough material, and the biggest problem, it would be an unsupported dome that started 50 meters up in the air. You couldn’t get scaffolding up that high. Along comes my boy Filippo Brunelleschi, who whips up a design for a double dome connected by internal buttresses. Not only that, since he couldn’t build a conventional scaffolding that high, he invented new construction equipment to lift up the bricks and then arranged them in a herringbone pattern so that they would self-reinforce as the dome got built row by row effectively eliminating the concern that the structure would collapse before it got finished. Putting aside entirely how gorgeous it looks, the sheer labor and radical ingenuity that it took to construct this dome is mind-bending. It’s so strangely heartening that the Florentine government set about building this thing they knew was actively impossible, trusting that their city would one day have the capability to go out and actually do it. Thinking long term for the benefit of others? Who the hell even does that? For real? This dome is a picture-perfect Florentine story. Starting from prior foundations and taking huge leaps to create something that’s just- I mean, look at it! That dome right there might as well be the icon of the Renaissance. Fun fact speaking of Renaissance icons. Did you know that Michelangelo’s David was supposed to go way up there on top of the church? Yeah, when the city government saw the statue they were shocked that this 28 year old churned out such an absolute masterpiece so they switched gears and decided to put it in the public square instead so that people could actually see it and enjoy it and actually appreciate it up close. Good call! But oh man, that dome. The egg shape is somehow quite elegant and the red and white pop like magic. Between that and the white green marble facade of the rest of the Cathedral, the color balance is just spot-on and it’s- it’s so cartoonishly huge compared to the rest of the city. It’s completely out of place. This building is insane! By every count, it should not exist. But here it is! This ridiculous magnificent dome. Is it perfect? No, it’s missing part of its facade, Nazis’ll do that to ya, and the interior fresco is kind of eh? I mean, it’s fine. But- gosh, I really count myself lucky that a big ricky dome can so easily just make me happy. After all, you are listening to the guy who designed and built a lego Duomo from scratch just because he was bored in greek class. In conclusion: That’s some good domes! And that’s my list of the top five domes. Feel free to comment with your favorites, as I strongly believe that everybody’s entitled to their personal opinions Even though my list is obviously the definitive ranking according to objective facts. See you next time!
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFXbqcHEhLI

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