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Dôme Classique

Construction of an internal dome for a Moscow apartment

Client: Charles Cameron architectural bureau
Participants: Ardennes-Metal Workshops. Turnaround time: 8 months. Installation: 5 days.
Weblink to the published project


A dome is an extremely complex construction of glass and metal. It's made-up of many parts, and their perfect interaction and combination requires perfect exactitude. A dome is not merely a decorative element, but, primarily, a unique example of engineering, whose design, planning and execution tolerances hold no place for error.

Plans for the apartment had originally featured an external dome, but unexpected planning permission complications led to it being impossible to build. It was therefore essential to calculate the parameters of the new, replacement, interior dome — so that the arcs of both constructions coincided perfectly, and so that from the interior, only the magnificent profile of the new dome was visible.


The architect's original concept for the new internal dome was an oval shape. However, since this would have meant individually producing the geometric shape of each separate glass pane to separate curve criteria and size, the costs and time involved in this idea became prohibitive. We optimised the costs and time-frame for the project by replacing the oval plan with a circular dome. The load-bearing metallic structure had to support a great weight of glass, whilst also allowing the daylight to pass through. Alongside this, the shape of the room was not geometrically perfect in itself, and this was a further difficulty which had to be overcome within the scope of the project.


We put forward out concept and blueprints for it to the client, and won the tender to produce the dome. Having taken the measurements of the exterior dome, we developed a simplified construction which would fit succinctly into the interior designs of the apartment. We resolved the issue of the function of the supporting construction and its supplementary supports by installing internal embedded pillars — whose dimensions were calculated so as to be able to support the iron carcass of the dome.

The barely-noticeable correction to the shape of the inner dome made it possible for the upper sections to intersect correctly, and thus the room took on its correct proportions. It was resolved to install the dome at a height of 4.8 metres from the floor. From this height the profiles where the glass and metal intersect are particularly well seen, so the issue of their correct connection was one which acquired great importance for us. The base of the dome was built from black metal, with the lining made of brass — while the decorative elements were similarly cast from bronze. Our team outdid even the client's greatest expectations, and instead of their expected 12-month turnaronud, the entire dome was already in place in just eight months.