The Mauritshuis

The Mauritshuis is a art museum in the Hague in the Netherlands. The museum houses the Royal Cabinet of Paintings which consists of 841 objects, mostly Dutch Golden Age paintings. The collections contains works by many artists from the Dutch Golden Age. Originally, the 17th century building was the residence of count John Maurice of Nassau, governor of Dutch Brazil.







In 1774, an art gallery open to the public was formed in what is now the Prince William V gallery. The Mauritshuis was bought by the Dutch state for the purpose of housing the Royal Cabinet of Paintings. In 1822, the Mauritshuis was opened to the public and housed the Royal Cabinet of Paintings and the Royal Cabinet of Rarities. The Mauritshuis was privatised in 1995. The foundation set up at that time took charge of both the building and the collection, which it was given on long-term loan. This building, which is the property of the state, is rented by the museum.





The Mauritshuis closed for two years in 2007 for refurbishment. During this period man such as The Girl with a Pearl Earring and few other famous pieces went on a tour to a few countries.




On June 7th, 2014, King william of the Netherland officially reopened the Mauritshuis with much pomp and ceremony.The renovation doubled the museum’s space, thanks to the acquisition of the Societeit de Witte, an Art Deco building across the street, and the construction of an underground tunnel between the old and the new. The new building named the Royal Dutch Shell Wing after its sponsor, has a new restaurant, gift shop, educational workshop and will host temporary exhibitions.


History of Architecture

Brunelleschis Dome

The dome that covers the Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore or Cathedral of the Saint Mary of the Flower) is known as Brunelleschis Dome. Duomo di Firenze, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the gothic style with the design of Arnofio de Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Bruneleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th-century gothic revival by Emilio de Fabris

When it was designed, it was the largest dome in the world. This immediately created problems as its size prevented the traditional method of construction. Its structure is a double shell supported by sturdy pillars.


The usual way to build an arch or dome was to support it with scaffolding called “centring.” However, the open space in the cathedral was 42 metres wide, and the Florentines wanted a tall, soaring dome.All the timber in Tuscany would not have sufficed to make the centring.Brunelleschi ended up building the dome without scaffolding in such a way that it supported itself as the work progressed.Each of Brunelleschi’s stone chains was built like an octagonal railroad track with parallel rails and cross ties, all made of sandstone beams 43 centimetres (17 in) in diameter and no more than 2.3 metres (7.5 ft) long.

The first problem to be solved was purely technical: no known lifting mechanisms at the time were capable of raising and manoeuvring the enormously heavy materials he had to work with, including sandstone beams, so far off the ground. Here Brunelleschi outdid himself. A modern understanding of physical laws and the mathematical tools for calculating stresses were centuries in the future. Brunelleschi, like all cathedral builders, had to rely on intuition and whatever he could learn from the large scale models he built. To lift 37,000 tons of material, including over 4 million bricks, he invented hoisting machines and lewisons for hoisting large stones.

He invented a three speed hoist an intricate system of gears, pulleys, screws, and driveshafts powered by a single yoke of oxen turning a wooden tiller and the castello, a 65-foot-tall crane with a series of counterweights and hand screws to move loads laterally once they’d been raised to the right height.







The building of such a masonry dome posed many technical problems. Brunelleschi looked to the great dome of the Patheon in Rome for solutions. The dome of the Pantheon is a single shell of concrete, the formula for which had long since been forgotten. Soil filled with silver coins had held the Pantheon dome aloft while its concrete set. This could not be the solution in the case of a dome this size and would put the church out of use. For the height and breadth of the dome designed by Neri, starting 52 metres (171 ft) above the floor and spanning 44 meters (144 ft), there was not enough timber in Tuscany to build the scaffolding and form.Brunelleschi chose to follow such design and employed a double shell, made of sandstone and marble. Brunelleschi would have to build the dome out of brick, due to its light weight compared to stone and being easier to form, and with nothing under it during construction. To illustrate his proposed structural plan, he constructed a wooden and brick model.

Brunelleschi’s solutions were ingenious, such as his use of the catenary arch for support. The spreading problem was solved by a set of four internal horizontal stone and iron chains, serving as barrel hoops, embedded within the inner dome: one at the top, one at the bottom, with the remaining two evenly spaced between them. A fifth chain, made of wood, was placed between the first and second of the stone chains. Since the dome was octagonal rather than round, a simple chain, squeezing the dome like a barrel hoop, would have put all its pressure on the eight corners of the dome. The chains needed to be rigid octagons, stiff enough to hold their shape, so as not to deform the dome as they held it together.

The dome is a masterpiece of beauty and engineering, a pioneering construction for its time, and in many ways remains unmatched.




History of Architecture

                                                               The Dome of the Rock



The Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount was the first monumental piece of architecture in Islam.  It is odd that it was not a mosque or mausoleum but a structure to shelter a rock. It stands at the site of the First Temple built by Solomon, an Islamic prophet, and covers a rock which, according to tradition was the site of the Binding of Isaac by Abraham and Prophet Muhammad’s journey to the heavens in early Seventh century.


Roman-Byzantine influence is apparent in the geometric lay out of the building, its interior mosaics, marble columns and overall sophisticated proportions.  However, the remarkable thing about this structure is not just the influence of Byzantine architecture but also the emergence of an Islamic style. A style of surface decoration rich with geometric patterns and devoid of human and animal representation.  The use of a circular dome sitting on a high drum also became the hall mark of later Islamic buildings. The blue glazed tiles and the band of calligraphic inscriptions on the upper portion of the facade were added 800 years later by the Ottoman Turks, giving the building a distinct Islamic flavour.


The edifice is situated on top of the Temple Mount (the site of Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples) in Jerusalem, framing a rock that holds sacred significance for all three monotheistic religions.


The Dome of the Rock has an octagonal plan based on the principal of rotating two squares at 45 degree angles toward one another, thus creating eight corners. The building’s octagonal base is 177 feet in diameter.  Inside there are two concentric porticoes lined with pillars and columns encircling the rock.  The inner most portico is circular in shape, above which rises a circular drum supporting a double dome of wood, rising to a height of 118 feet. The octagonal facade of the building has four entrances at four cardinal points. The southern entrance is the largest among four, it is covered by a porch supported by eight columns.



The Dome of the Rock is a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and craftsmanship and the lessons learned from it were later employed by the rulers of Islam in the development of many other Islamic buildings.





The Dome of the Rock – Jerusalem: The First Piece of Monumental Architecture in Islam


History of Architecture


Due to the scarcity of wood, the two predominant building materials used in ancient Egypt were sun-baked mud brick and stone, mainly limestone, but also sandstone and granite in considerable quantities.

Stone was generally reserved for tombs and temples, while bricks were used even for royal palaces, fortresses, the walls of temple precincts and towns, and for subsidiary buildings in temple complexes. The core the pyramids consisted of locally quarried stone, mud bricks, sand or gravel. For the casing stones were used that had to be transported from farther away, predominantly white limestone from Tura and red granite from upper Egypt.

Ancient Egyptian houses were made out of mud collected from the Nile river. It was placed in molds and left to dry in the hot sun to harden for use in construction.


The pyramids at Giza date from the Old Kingdom (c. 2613 – 2181 BCE) and represent the pinnacle of talent and skill acquired at that time. Ancient Egyptian history, however, still had a long and illustrious path before it and as the pyramid form was abandoned the Egyptians focused their attention on temples. Many of these whose ruins are still extant, such as the temple complex of Amun -Ra at Karnak, inspire as much genuine awe as the pyramids ofGiza but all of them, however great or modest, show an attention to detail and an awareness of aesthetic beauty and practical functionality which makes them masterpieces of architecture.


Many Egyptian towns have disappeared because they were situated near the cultivated area of the Nile Valley and were flooded as the river bed slowly rose during the millennia, or the mud bricks of which they were built were used by peasants as fertilizer. Others are inaccessible, new buildings having been erected on ancient ones. Fortunately, the dry, hot climate of Egypt preserved some mud brick structures.

egyptian dynasty.jpg

Exterior and interior walls, as well as the columns and piers, were covered with hieroglyphic and pictorial frescoes and carvings painted in brilliant colours. Many motifs of Egyptian ornamentation are symbolic, such as the scarab, or sacred beetle, the solar disk, and the vulture. Other common motifs include palm leaves, the papyrus plant, and the buds and flowers of the lotus Hieroglyphics  were inscribed for decorative purposes as well as to record historic events or spells. In addition, these pictorial frescoes and carvings allow us to understand how the Ancient Egyptians lived, statuses, wars that were fought and their beliefs. This was especially true when exploring the tombs of Ancient Egyptian officials in recent years.




History of Architecture





In the 17th century, the growing English population of Bombay needed a place of worship. The foundation stone for St. Thomas was laid in 1676 by the governor of Bombay, Gerald Aungier. After his death, the building site lay desolate until the dynamic 27-year-old Mr. Cobbe came along. The church finally opened its doors to the public on Christmas Day, 1718.



It became a cathedral in 1837 and has been altered over the years. This is reflected in the architecture, a mix of several styles. Nearly three centuries later, Mr. Cobbe still makes his presence felt.


The building is mainly Gothic, and its entrance has an elaorate fountain in the same style. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott.


The altar windows were designed in the 1800s by Victorian stained glass designer and manufacturer, Charles E. Kempe.


St. Thomas Cathedral underwent major restoration work and was selected for the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award in 2004.