The Hagia Sophia

Probably Istanbul's most famous landmark, the Hagia Sophia (also spelled Ayasofya) was built by the emperor Justinian I in the year 537 AD. Built in only six years, the structure was designed by the architects Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus. On May 7, 558, the dome of the church collapsed due to a December 557 earthquake, and though a new dome was quickly rebuilt, historical records tell us that it was not identical to the original.

During the spring and summer of 1996, Marcus Hurley (Princeton class of 1997) created a detailed computer model of the Hagia Sophia using the Pro/ENGINEER modeling program. The model is intended to serve in a number of functions. It will be used in structural, finite element analysis of the church, can be used in visualization and walk throughs, and provides a mobile, multi-media tool for scholars interested in Byzantine architecture. Finally, it provides a useful illustration in determining the form of original structure.

Creating the Model

The computer model is an assembly of five parts: the ground floor, the gallery level, the arches, the domes and the west arches. The gallery was placed on top of the ground floor, while the arches were assembled above the gallery and the dome was placed on top of the entire structure. The west arches form an entrance to the west side of the Hagia Sophia. Three different domes were created: the current dome that was built after the 558 collapse, and two proposed domes to represent how the structure originally looked. At each level, datam planes were placed like cornerstones to place and orient separate features, which themselves are extrusions, rotations, blends, or sections swept along a predetermined trajectory.

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