- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 23 Nov 2017
Pendentive is the term given to a construction element that allows a dome to be placed over square or rectangular spaces. Pendentives are triangular segments of a sphere that spread at the top and taper to points at the bottom, thereby enabling the continuous circular or elliptical base needed to support the dome. The horizontal curve of the dome’s base is connected directly to the vertical curves of the four supporting arches on each corner. Where the curve of the pendentive and dome is continuous, the vaulting form is known as a pendentive dome.
The pendentives receive the outward force from the dome’s weight and concentrate it at the four corners where it is directed down the columns to the foundations beneath. Prior to the development of pendentives, dome construction either demanded that the supporting structure was round, such as in Rome’s Pantheon, or were supported by corbelling or the use of squinches (a construction filling to form a base) in the corners of a room that allowed the dome to sit on top of four arches. Both of these methods limited the possible width and height of the dome. By directing force away from the walls, pendentive domes could be constructed much larger and higher.
The Romans were the first to experiment with pendentive domes in the 2nd-3rd century AD. They saw the supporting of a dome over an enclosed square or polygonal space as a particular architectural challenge.
Byzantine architects perfected the construction methods, and as a result pendentives are a common feature of Islamic architecture, often used with delicate ribbing. Pendentive domes were commonly built for Orthodox, Rennaissance and Baroque churches, in particular in Roman Catholic Europe and Latin America.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Barrel vault.
- Classical orders in architecture.
- Conoid shell.
- Flying buttress.
- Folded plate construction.
- Geodesic dome.
- Hagia Sophia.
- Hyperbolic paraboloid.
- Millennium Dome.
- Portal frame.
- Shell roof.
- The development of structural membranes.
- The history of fabric structures.
- Types of dome.
- Why are domes popular?
Featured articles and news
What collaborative working achieves and how it can be put in place.
BSRIA publishes the 2019 edition of its small but concise annual databook.
Using QSAND to measure the performance of disaster response.
What U-values are, why they matter and how they are calculated.
The need to ensure that we plan for all aspects of our bio-economy
BSRIA calls on government to reach deeper into the causes of pollution.
George Demetri brings a whole new level of technical knowledge to Designing Buildings Wiki.
Quality professionals need to take an active role in driving the completion process forwards.
The innovations needed to move from rhetoric to realisation.
Creating a sense of place, with radically-low running costs and the highest comfort levels.
A conversation between David Mitchell and Caitlin DeSilvey.
A quick guide to brick sizes.
The Union Street development in Southwark was a passion, as well as a business endeavour.