A cupola ('kju: [email protected]@/) is a tiny, usually dome-like, tall structure on top of a building in architecture. It generally caps a bigger roof or dome and serves as a lookout or admits light and air. The word comes from Latin capsula, "little ball", which in turn comes from the Greek kappa, meaning "ball".
Cupolas were originally used as telescopes for observing celestial objects such as planets or stars. Today they are used as observatories because they provide protection from weather conditions and allow for clear viewing of celestial objects.
There are several types of cupolas found on buildings around the world: digging cupola, hunting cupola, observation cupola, and windmill cupola.
In some countries, such as Canada and United States, a cupola is called a domesicle because both structures have a circular base and a conical shape with a small opening at the bottom. However, a domesicle has an internal framework of ribs to support the glass or plastic shell that covers it.
In other countries, such as England and Australia, a cupola is called a belfry because both structures have the function of storing bells or gongs.
A cupola is a decorative, tiny, protruding tower at the top of a building's roof, which is often square, round, or octagonal in shape. A window opening in the roof, capped by a front gable or shed roof, The overhanging edge of the roof that extends beyond the outside walls, sometimes with exposed rafters. The term can also be used to describe the structure that houses the opening.
Cupolas are found on many buildings across the world, especially churches and smaller residential buildings. They were commonly used as observatories by scientists and scholars, and today some museums include small cupolas in their roofs as well. Cupolas are also found on larger structures such as factories and schools where they provide an open area for students to study or teachers to teach classes from.
There are two main types of cupolas: those with domes and those with shells. Shell cupolas have a flat or slightly sloped cover instead of a dome. They tend to be cheaper to build and less weather-resistant than domed cupolas. However, they look more modern and can be used as architectural features rather than just functional ones. Dome cupolas are shown higher up on this page because they are more prestigious and desirable than shell cupolas.
Dome cupolas require a much steeper roof slope to work effectively, so they are not practical for all buildings. However, they make up most of the cupolas found on churches and other religious buildings throughout history.
The term "cupola" refers to a miniature dome atop a roof or turret and is another name for "dome." A "tambour" or "lantern" is the corresponding structure that supports a cupola over a dome's oculus. Shells, domes, and cupolas are all part of the same architectural category - tent-like structures with horizontal ribs or frames inside the walls - and they're used for many similar purposes today as well. They're often found as religious buildings, administrative offices, libraries, museums, concert halls, sports facilities, etc.
A "shell" building is one with no internal support other than its own weight. It consists of an exterior skeleton of beams and columns with an interior wall surface covered by plaster or some other material. The shell is then filled with concrete or some other material to make it stronger and heavier. Modern examples include skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. The word "shell" comes from their appearance: constructed of heavy timber framing wrapped in cloth (the shells) with interior finishing such as plaster or wood panelling used to fill in the space.
A "domed" building has two parts: the outer shell or casing and the inner core. The core can be made of brick, stone, metal, or wood and can be flat or cylindrical.