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Not a gripping account of "the story of the Great Cathedral in Florence"
on 8 July 2016
Having read through this book, it is unclear if the book is about architecture or a biography of the architect / engineer, Brunelleschi, who built the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore. Judging by the title, I expect the former, but it seems to me that the book hovers between the two and ends up serving neither. While I understand from the book the technical difficulties in building the dome, I do not gain the same level of understanding and in turn appreciation of the technical ingenuity of Brunelleschi's solution. How the solution actually works remains a mystery to someone who is not scientifically trained. This is unsatisfactory to me.
The rest of the "story of the Great Cathedral in Florence" reads a bit disjointed; I found myself asking if I was reading frequent digressions. The end was a bit rush. We were reading of delays and things went from bad to worse and suddenly we jumped to the chapter on the consecration of the cathedral. I am also intrigued if the maintenance of the cathedral over the past five hundred years - are there any structural weakness that tests today's engineers to save it like the tower in Pisa? It is mentioned in the book that the dome was built over an underground river. Does it have any implication on the cathedral?
What the book has done for me is that it has sketched an outline for me what to look for concerning the dome with the timeline, names of the key players and technical difficulties. But to appreciate both Brunelleschi as a genius and the wonders of the cathedral better, I feel I have to follow up on other sources.