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William 🐝 Rakow

William 🐝 Rakow

To Architecture27/09/2017

In Italy, Pisans claim that Piazza dei Miracoli is among the world's most beautiful urban spaces. Its walled lawns provide a photogenic setting for the candy-striped Duomo, begun in 1063, with graceful tiered façade and cavernous interior; the Battistero, started in 1153 and completed by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano in 1260, with Nicola Pisano's beautiful pulpit inside; and the beautiful Camposanto cemetery, said to contain soil shipped from Calvary during the Crusades. But it's to the Leaning Tower that all eyes are drawn. Bonanno Pisano began building the tower (actually the campanile [bell tower] for the neighboring cathedral) in 1173, but almost immediately his plans went awry due to a layer of shifting soil. Only three of the tower's seven tiers were completed before it started tilting – continuing at a rate of about 1mm per year. By 1990 the lean had reached 5.5 degrees – a 10th of a degree beyond the critical point established by computer models. Stability was finally ensured in 1998 when a combination of biased weighting and soil drilling forced the tower into a safer position. Today it's almost 4.1m off kilter.

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