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A Brief History of Rome's Luminous Rotundas

With its hundreds of churches, Rome has a developed a rich history of domes. Inspired by this heritage, Jakob Straub has photographed the city's most remarkable rotundas from the ancient Pantheon up to Pier Luigi Nervi's modern sports arena. His neutral photo perspective, taken looking upwards from the center of the rotunda, opens a new view for the underlying concepts where the architecture yearns for the firmament. For Elías Torres, these “zenithal-lit” spaces constitute an important method for daylight architecture, where the exterior is also transformed into a fascinating distant reality.

Torres has analysed numerous strategies for lighting architecture effectively with daylight from above. In his book “Zenithal Light,” illustrated with an abundance of striking photos, he came to the conclusion that “Amongst the representations of the sky in the interior of architecture, the one that depicts the sun shining from above with a circular form has been the favoured one for many cultures.”

Fire Consumes Pier Luigi Nervi's Palazzo del Lavoro

Pier Luigi Nervi's Palazzo del Lavoro (Palace of Labour) in Turin has been devastated by fire. The unoccupied exhibition hall, originally built for Italia'61, had been undergoing renovations. As La Stampa Turin reports, the fire started on the second floor and is most likely the result of arson. A similar incident happened a few months ago, but was quickly extinguished. 

The glass encased Palace of Labour is internally divided by 16 structurally independent steel roofed compartments, each supported by radial branches stemming from 65-foot-tall concrete columns.

Spotlight: Pier Luigi Nervi

Known as both an architect and an engineer, Pier Luigi Nervi (June 21, 1891-January 9, 1979) explored the limitations of reinforced concrete by creating a variety of inventive structural projects; in the process, he helped to show the material had a place in architecture movements of the coming years. Nervi began his career in a time of technological revolution, and through his ambition and ability to recognize opportunity in the midst of challenge, he was able to have an impact on several disciplines and cultures.