Last week, material supplier Sicomin unveiled details about the composite materials used for the domes of the Russian Orthodox Cultural and Spiritual Centre in Paris, which opened in October 2016. Each the domes, which were 12 meters high and 12 meters wide, contained 86,000 leaves of real gold spread across their surface areas.

A unique part of this project was that the production of the domes was begun even before the building’s foundation were completed. The central dome was completed by March 2016. Sicomin says its composite material solution provided a number of advantages.

“The domes’ light weight allowed for rapid installation as well as reducing the dead loads that must be carried by the building structure,” Sicomin said. “Another benefit of building the domes offsite was that both manufacture and decoration of the domes could be carried out in controlled conditions without the weather impacting the production process.”

Sicomin worked alongside Multiplast, main contractor Bouygues and engineering consultants Calcul Méca to support architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s design for the cathedral. Sicomin supplied materials for the dome tooling to Décision SA, based in Switzerland, who infused a set of glass fiber multiaxial fabric and balsa reinforced molds using Sicomin’s SR8100/SD7820 cost-effective 120 C epoxy infusion system.

The dome panels themselves were produced at Multiplast’s factory in Vannes, France, using Sicomin’s SR8100/SD4772 epoxy infusion system and a specifically developed glass fiber reinforcement lay-up. By combining their heavyweight quadaxial fabric style QX1180 with a woven 500gsm fabric, Sicomin was able to provide a laminate with no print-through and good top surface flow characteristics to prevent dry spots.