British Museum Reading Room
Domed Reading Room, British Museum; London
Sydney Smirke and Alfred Stevens
Model; about 1853; wood, cardboard and plaster; decoration by Alfred Stevens (unexecuted)
Victoria and Albert Museum
Domes are structurally efficient because each part supports every other part and can span a large area economically. The dome of the reading room at the British Museum is 42 metres in diameter. Its pioneering construction used cast iron ribs supported on iron piers, with a brick infill.
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