The Pantheon 125AD
Timber Interpretation by David De La Mare and Alex Thomas
The Pantheon is Rome’s best-preserved building and oldest domed structure. The rotunda, of 43.3m diameter, is covered by a coffered concrete dome with a 9m diameter central oculus, 43.3m above floor level. The internal volume is geometrically spherical, and the largest mass concrete dome in history. The thickness of the dome varies from 6.4m at the base to 1.2m around the oculus.
The interpretation explores retaining these characteristic dimensions whilst incorporating the benefits of working with engineered timber. The dome is constructed from 28 trussed arches, spaced and braced at the same centres as the coffers of the original concrete structure. The oculus, a glulam compression ring, distributes forces to the opposing arch, through to the base of the dome. The arches are harnessed by a trussed ring beam that transfer all forces vertically, thereby allowing a lightweight lower structure that could be inhabited.
Being completely self-supporting allows for an inner or outer skin to be applied. The nature of the Pantheon is a meticulous interior with structure revealed externally, suggesting a contemporary, possibly translucent inner skin.