Imagine this: It's 1418 in Florence, Italy. You've been challenged to build a great dome for the Santa Maria del Fiore, one of the grandest cathedrals ever built, and you have no formal architectural training—no pressure, right? For Filippo Brunelleschi, a goldsmith and clockmaker, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. He considered the challenge carefully...then proposed a daring plan, using methods that experts don't fully understand even to this day.
想像一下：時為西元 1418 年的義大利佛羅倫斯。你接受挑戰要為聖母百花大教堂建一個巨大穹頂，那是世上最雄偉的大教堂之一，而你沒受過任何正規建築訓練－－不用覺得有壓力，對吧？對 Filippo Brunelleschi，一位金匠和鐘錶匠來說，那是千載難逢的機會。他審慎思考了這項挑戰...接著提出一項大膽的計畫，運用直至今日專家都不能完全理解的工法。
At the time, domes were often built as semicircles, but the town fathers required that Brunelleschi build an eight-sided dome that would be even taller and stronger. It would also have no central support system to hold it up during construction. Even worse, the dome's base was an imprecise octagon with no true center. But Brunelleschi had that covered. There would be two domes instead of one: an inner and an outer shell held together by giant brick arches and interlocking rings of stone and wood. The rings would work like hoops on a barrel, keeping the dome from expanding outward.
在當時，穹頂常被造為半圓弧形，但城鎮長老們要求 Brunelleschi 建一個八面穹頂，那將更為高聳堅固。它還不會有中央支撐系統在建造期間撐起穹頂。更棘手的是，穹頂的基底是個沒有準確中心的不規則八角形。但 Brunelleschi 解決了那個難題。他會建兩個而非一個穹頂：由巨大磚拱和相扣石環與木環連結在一起的內外牆殼。這些環的作用就像木桶上的桶箍一樣，使得穹頂不會向外膨脹。
To move heavy loads hundreds of feet up, Brunelleschi designed ingenious new machines, including an ox-driven hoist and massive lifting devices far ahead of their time. So, revolutionary design, check; groundbreaking engineering, check; can-do attitude, check. But with no central support system, how would he actually build it?
First off, the masonry would have to support itself during construction. To do this, Brunelleschi lays the bricks in a herringbone pattern, which spiraled to the top of the dome, with vertical bricks acting as bookends to hold the others in place. They laid about one row a week, giving the mortar time to cure. At this rate, the dome grew at a snail's pace of about a foot a month. But perhaps most puzzling is how he was able to place the bricks with such precision.
Many experts agree that he used guide ropes. One theory states that ropes ran from a flower pattern on the work platform that showed exactly where the bricks should go. Another has ropes running from the dome center, tracing a series of cones that grew smaller as they ascended to the top. Still another suggests a different arrangement of central ropes and wooden templates. However it was done, it worked. The eight phases of the dome met at the top precisely, just as Brunelleschi had planned. In all, it took 16 years to complete the dome.
許多專家一致認同他利用繩索引導。其中一個理論表示繩索是由繪於作業平台上的花朵圖案牽引出，精準標示了磚塊該排的位置。另一說則認為繩索由穹頂中心拉出，勾勒出越往上就越小的一連串圓錐形。又有一說則提出是利用中心繩索和木製模板。不論方法為何，都成功了。穹頂的八面精準地在頂端會合，正如 Brunelleschi 計畫的一樣。穹頂的完工總計花費十六年。
When he died in 1446, Brunelleschi left behind no sketches and no details as to exactly how he achieved his masterpiece. Today, it remains the largest masonry dome in the world, more than 500 years after it was built.
當 Brunelleschi 在 1446 年離世時，他沒有留下任何草稿，也沒有留下自己是如何完成這傑作的相關細節。如今，這仍是世上最大的磚造穹頂，在落成超過五百年之後。