In a joint study by Princeton University and the University of Bergamo, scientists have identified engineering methods for erecting self-supporting stone domes characteristic of the Italian Renaissance. The object of study was the famous dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. We are talking about the medieval technology of brick laying during the formation of domes - the method of double loxodrome.
The masonry using the double loxodrome method (in the picture above) consists of rows of vertically laid bricks, which, as it were, twist to the top of the dome, while the space between them is filled with horizontally laid bricks.
In fact, each row of bricks creates a structural element known as a flat arch that grips and compresses the inner bricks, distributing the load evenly throughout the structure.
To find out these details, a detailed computer analysis was carried out, taking into account the acting forces, down to the individual brick, and explaining how their equilibrium is achieved. To do this, the scientists used the Discrete Element Method (DEM), with which they analyzed the structure at multiple levels and stages of construction. These tests not only tested the mechanics of the structures, but also made it possible to recreate construction methods.
Scientists claim that the technique of medieval craftsmen can be successfully applied in the development of modern construction methods using robots.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore