As a functional and decorative component of a roof or dome, a cupola provides architectural detail and ventilation. A cupola is manufactured in three sections, including the base of the unit, the windows or vents (louvers), and the top of the unit that is designed with the finial or a weather vane. Generally, architects design the cupola to conform to the slope or pitch of the roof.

Many Geometric Cupola Shapes

Usually, a cupola cap is built with its own distinct geometric shape. These shapes include rectangles, squares, and designs that resemble a bell. Typically, the vents or slats of a cupola are part of the designed to let air or gas escape from the interior of the structure. Many architectural details incorporate a screen behind the louvers or vents as a way to safeguard against insects and animals. Some cupolas are designed with finial architectural details that include an ornament, weather vane, or a spire.

Architectural Designs

While a cupola is often considered a traditional design, they can be fabricated to match the architectural style of any home or business including Contemporary. Other traditional designs include Georgian, Classical, and Colonial. The numbers of sides of a cupola are also variable and usually contain four, six or eight sides. Part of the architectural design will include sizing the unit appropriately. The width of the cupola needs to be in direct proportion to the length of the roof.

A Copper Cupola

While a cupola can be crafted from wood, vinyl, or composite material, the most beautiful ones are fabricated out of copper. The decorative features of copper allow it to be protected from the elements for decades, while adding aesthetic beauty to the building or home. Aside from its aesthetic purposes, a copper cupola is usually incorporated into the structure because of its long service life. Many homeowners and business owners tend to chemically treat the copper to provide a greenish patina finish, while others allow the designed cupola to develop its patina naturally.

The Installation of a Cupola

Cupolas are manufactured in a large variety of styles, shapes, and materials. They offer unique solution for eliminating built-up heat on the interior at the roof line. Without a cupola the interior air can become hotter by 35° or higher, when compared to the temperature at ground level. Cupolas can be a beautiful addition to any building or home. Sometimes the windows or vents of a cupola are called lanterns, and little cupolas are referred to as monitors.