Di Tella Arquitectura
Universidad Torcuato Di Tella
Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2014

Course "Modelos Sistematicamente Diferenciados"
Professors: Francisco Cadau, Victoria Della Chiesa

Workshop "Domes of Revolution"
coordinators: Andrea Di Stefano, Aleksandra Jaeschke
collaborator: Salvo Pappalardo

In order to build what remains the largest brick dome ever constructed, Brunelleschi designed a self-supporting structure not requiring fixed centrings. A mobile device was developed to follow the construction and to relocate the system of reference at different heights, allowing for a virtual projection of the dome as a solid of revolution. Simply by tracing circles in space, a diagram was deployed to position the eight ribs, control the exact surface curvature, define the correct angle of bricks, and drive a spiralling rib embedded in the brickwork in order to resist asymmetrical lateral loads. The structure would also incorporate voids to facilitate the drying of masonry, corridors and stairs for movement, openings for air and light: a whole architecture was engineered through an operative diagram.
The aim of this workshop is to help students shift from partitions and columns to shells. Moving away from stacking and corbelling, we will literally follow Louis Kahn's statement - "a brick wants to be an arch" - and revolve arches to enwrap space. We will design domes using a revolving compass, and shift between digital and analogue realms by means of this unique operative diagram. All parameters will be inscribed in the generative device and the structure will be a direct description of the device itself. The instrument used to deposit bricks will embody the digital model built to generate new families of complex domes and potentially produce accurately controlled environmental conditions such as diffused illumination, self-shading and passive ventilation.