The use of domes in architecture: power prestige and know-how


A dome is a type of roof usually reserved for prestigious buildings like: churches, palaces and civic centres. A simple glance at this type of structure is enough to demand respect and admiration.

Even though the elements and calculations needed to build a dome are very complex, the experts point towards a very simple origin: primitive huts made of sticks and igloos.

Due to its features, the domes are visible from afar and have become a symbol of power and status. The first major dome that is still standing today, is the Pantheon in Rome, an incredible example of engineering. However, the dome that changed modern architecture was Brunelleschi’s Dome of the Cathedral of Florence.

 slate dome transported down the river Seine
Natural slate dome transported down the river Seine up to the island of Notre Dame in Paris (c)

Domes have an incredible charm, as you can see below, they create magical setting under the sky. From the outside, the domes can be covered with different materials, and natural slate is one of the frequently most used.

Slate domes

Domes are built to cover churches or public monuments and you can often find them covered by natural slate, like the quadrangular dome of the Military Academy in Paris.

dome polygonal-base

CUPA PIZARRAS had the honour to participate in the renovation of this Historical Monument with our ‘coffine’ slates, which are a special model especially crafted to cover dome’s roofs.

The Military Academy is an example of polygonal-base dome, but there is another important style: the domes with a circular base. Of course, there are nearly an infinite number of domes used in architecture depending on the curvature, the design or the apparent surface.

domes types

At the BNP bank headquarters in Paris we can also admire a striking dome. During the works, our natural slate was scale-shaped on site to create an accurate pattern, the result of the exceptional know-how of the roofers.

Dome BNP Paris

Installing natural slate on a dome demands an intricate technique, pinpoint accuracy and experience. If you are interested in becoming a slate roofer, you can contact us for advice on training centres.

document icon Domes are just one type of roof, in this article we gathered the most common types for you.