A hemispherical structure derived from the arch in architecture, commonly forming a ceiling or roof. The dome has thrusts all around it, and the first gigantic versions, such as the Roman Pantheon, required massive supporting walls. But with modern construction techniques, this is no longer true; instead, domes are now often built with internal supports inside the shell.
The beauty of the dome is that it requires little more than good design to create effective shelter from the elements. There are two main types of dome: circular and elliptical. A circle is defined by points called "nodes", which lie on the circumference of the circle. At each node, lines perpendicular to the axis of the sphere meet. To form an ellipse, each line is rotated 90 degrees relative to the previous one. There are three ways to connect these nodes together: using four right angles (as in a pyramid), using five right angles (as in a pentagram), or using six right angles (as in a hexagram).
Domes appear frequently in nature. The shells of some mollusks, including clams and oysters, are composed of flat membranes joined together at their edges to form a spherical casing. These structures are not rigid like a steel tank would be, but rather they are flexible enough to allow the soft-shell crab inside to move about comfortably.
A dome is essentially a rotating arch around its primary vertical axis. Domes are essentially arches that have been turned vertically and have the same capabilities and features as arches. The word "dome" comes from the Greek words dōmos meaning circle and oma meaning head. Thus, a dome is a circular roof with a central opening (often called a "oculus") from which it gets its name.
Domes were originally used as religious buildings or temples for deities. Over time they became useful for other purposes such as housing, schools, and hospitals. Today, domes are found in many different kinds of structures, including churches, mosques, museums, and laboratories. There are several different types of domes including barrel-shaped domes, bell-shaped domes, and pyramidal domes.
The word "arch" comes from the Latin word arcum which means bow. Thus, an arch is a curved covering supported by posts or pillars. Arches are used instead of doors or windows because they are lighter and use less space than other building elements. They can be opened like doors or closed off completely if no weather protection is needed.
The main type of arch is the stone arch, which uses natural materials such as stone or brick for its construction.
By resolving pressures into compressive stresses and reducing tensile stresses, arches may span huge regions. Thus, they can be used to span large distances, provide coverings for structures, or both.
An arch has two main components: abutting piers or walls that support it and ties that connect these elements together. Arches come in three main types: semi-circular, voussoirs, and pointed. A dome has two main components as well: the base on which it rests and the ribs that define its surface. Like arches, domes can be circular, elliptical, or polygonal.
Domes were originally built with wood but now also made from concrete or steel. They often serve as roofing over buildings, but they can be used to cover other structures as well. Arches are used to create bridges because their ability to span great distances makes them useful tools for crossing large bodies of water or empty spaces within cities. Bridges use arches to connect one side of the bridge to the other or to allow traffic to pass under it. Domes are applied extensively in architecture. They can be found in many famous buildings including St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy, and the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.