A rooftop cupola can be described as the “dome” seen on buildings such as temples and cathedrals. A couple of famous examples of these are the magnificent domes that sit atop St Paul’s Cathedral in London, England and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
They offer a more sophisticated enclosure than your average rooftop. Typically spherical in shape, they provide a look of prominence as well as elegance to a building. In many cases, it can be seen as more of an architectural achievement than the building itself. Think of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, and picture it without the spectacular dome to crown its structure. It could be very easily argued that without it, the Taj Mahal would not now be as world renowned as it has been.
As well as the aesthetic advantages they can provide, rooftop cupolas can also enhance a building’s practicality. They can be made to be accessible from inside the structure itself. This has the possibility to allow for great viewing distance and visibility for anyone inside the building. Certainly, the same building with a simple roof enclosure would not be able to compete with the views provided.
The first civilisation to systematically construct domes may well have been the ancient Romans. The circular form of the dome had particular significance for the Romans. Its perfect geometry represented order and harmony; its lack of beginnings and ends, corners and seams, suggested continuity. Raised to a great height and enclosing a vast space underneath, the dome became the symbol of inclusion and unity for the Roman Empire. Even today, evidence of the enchanting effect rooftop cupolas can have on lovers of architecture is seen in the huge number of visitors structures such as St Paul’s Cathedral and the Taj Mahal receive every year. In America, the sheer number of state capitol buildings which are finished off with one is a testament to the extent that they are revered by architects.
Today, rooftop cupolas do not only appear on buildings of a grand scale. Many can be seen on structures such as local hotels or even garden pavilions and barns. Indeed, construction and maintenance of them has become a lucrative business. Running a simple search on the web will return a long list of companies which provide such services.
It could be said that the circular nature of these structures, is reflected in the way modern civilization has returned to trends first set centuries ago, rejecting huge skyscrapers and opting for the more elegant architectural ways of our ancestors. In an age where people are forever on the search for the latest gadgets and technology, how refreshing that the Roof Cupola remains centuries later, standing tall.
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