'Leonardo Da Vinci: The Mechanics of a Genius' exhibition

Last year we got to visit the 'Leonardo Da Vinci The mechanics of a genius' exhibition at the Science Museum in London.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Da Vinci's Parachute and Aerial screw


Leonardo's Glider

There were some great models on display; most noticeable: The famous flying machine,  glider, flying vessel, aerial screw and parachute.

We also enjoyed looking at many architectural models, that were also on display:

Church Budding

Church with budding structure

Church Two Levels

Church on two levels

Church with budding structure

(Image above left). The church model was built in 1953 by Ceramiche Curti. The design is made up of an octagon shaped core which is topped with a dome. Eight identical chapels surround the centre, each topped with a dome. Leonardo's design is similar to how a plant develops from a bud hence the name ‘Church with budding structure’.

Church on two levels

(Image above right). This church model was also built in 1953 by Ceramiche Curti. In Leonardo’s notes, he claims the idea of a double level came from the structure of the San Sepolcro Church in Milan.

Mountain Fortress

Mountain fortress

Ditch Model

Ditch with submerged fortification

Mountain Fortress

The Mountain fortress model (above left) was made in 1953 by Ermenegildo Menichetti. The layout was inspired by the mountain citadels of San Leo and Mondavio. In Leonardo’s notes, he mentions of secret underground passageways.

Ditch with submerged fortification

This Ditch model (above right) was also made in 1953 by Ermenegildo Menichetti. The sectional model shows how the submerged fortification provides a defensive structure and outpost. The fortification has an underground access and line of fire along the surface of the water. The outside walls are covered with hay to absorb incoming fire.

Curtain Wall

Curtain wall with semicircular projections

Flanking Tower

Flanking tower model

Curtain Wall with semicircular projections

This model (above left) was made by Ermenegildo Menichetti in 1953. The sectional model shows an embankment designed to resist bombardments and deflect incoming enemy fire. Leonardo designed this while working for Italian nobleman Cesare Borgia.

Flanking Tower

Leonardo designed the cylindrical tower on a truncated base after observing drawings designed by Italian architect Bartolomeo Gadio in the 15th Century.


Crane for excavating canals

Seige Tower

Model of a siege tower

Crane for excavating canals

The model was made in 1953 by Alessandro Siriati. In Leonardo’s notes, he indicates the exact measurements of the crane and provides precise instructions for loading it. The counterweight needed to raise the box is equivalent to an ox and two men.

Siege Tower

This model made by Ermenegildo Menichetti in 1953 shows the design of Leonardo’s Siege tower. Pulled by oxen, the tower has an adjustable bridge which enabled attacking forces to cross high walls above moats. The roof could be tilted with ropes tied to a winch.

And last but not least:

The Giant Crossbow

The sheer size of even just the model of this crossbow was impressive. The actual size of the crossbow would have been 5 times the size of a human.


Giant Crossbow

Photographs by Tom Taylor

Date Published:

February 02, 2017



Reading time:

4 mins

Share this:


About the Author

Tom has a passion for creating high quality architectural models for architects, designers, developers, and consultants. From traditional hand crafted techniques to latest technological trends such as 3d printing.

Our Services