scaffolded domes

Taj Mahal, 1942To protect the dome of the Taj Mahal during the Second World War, it was buried in a thicket of scaffolding.  India was full of RAF bases that serviced the Burma Campaign, nearby cities were often targetted by the Japanese: for example Dum Dum airfield was near Calcutta which was bombed several times. 

The construction of the Taj Mahal in 1633 used a brick scaffold, rather than the more usual bamboo scaffolding.  The dome is brick, sheathed in marble.  The brick scaffold was as large as the building itself, built to carry the marble slabs.  It is an interesting relationship between the kind of scaffolding used and the weight of materials: hand sized bricks, laid incrementally, although monumental when finished are small units.  The marble was of a different order completely, lifted and placed by ropes and pulleys attached to the scaffold. 

The other great wartime dome survival story is St Paul's Cathedral in London, which survived. This dome is a lightweight skin over a sturdy brick cone that supports it. The scaffold is internal structure. 

Section through the dome of St Paul's Cathedral

Stephanie Whiteconstruction, war