Cupolas and How They’re Used

A cupola is a domed accent on a roof, often is round, square, or multi-sided. In some cases, the entire main roof of a tower or spire may be called a cupola. More frequently, however, the cupola is a smaller structure that sets on top of the main roof. Architect John Milnes Baker describes a cupola as “a small turretlike structure projecting above a building’s roof.”

The word cupola is an Italian word from the Renaissance, a time in architectural history when ornamentation, domes, and columns defined Greek and Roman building designs. The word is from the Latin cupula, meaning a kind of cup or tub. In the United States, cupolas are often found on Italianate houses and as a defining characteristic of neotraditional architecture.

Today a cupola is mostly an ornamental architectural detail, often with the singular function of holding a flag, weather vane, or other finials.  It can also serve to bring light into a room below, as with this recent project completed by our residential team.

Simply, a cupola is a great idea for many new and remodeled homes. These small structures perch beautifully atop larger structures. Cupolas started out being functional — you might even call them green architecture. Their intent was to provide natural light, passive cooling through ventilation, and unobstructed views of surrounding areas. Some contemporary buildings also have functional, energy-saving cupolas.

Functional or decorative, the cupola sometimes needs regular maintenance, or repair, simply because of its position — it is exposed to all weather all year long.

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Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

Patrick Cummings

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