Concrete Barrel Vaults Applied in 10 Projects of Contemporary Architecture
The oldest record of barrel vaults is estimated to date back to 4000 BC. These provided the spans in the Sumerian ziggurat at Nippur in Babylonia, built from fired bricks amalgamated with clay mortar. This type of vault was built as a continuous round arch and became a characteristic architectural element of Roman architecture, later used also in Renaissance architecture.
The vault is a load-bearing structural form made out of several arches, which transfer loads to an abutment or pillar on both sides. They work structurally in compression in an even way throughout their form. Historically made out of stone or brick, this type of vault requires very precise dimensions since the vectors of pressure result in a downward force on the crown while the lower portions of the arches perform the lateral force pushing outwards.
Currently, with reinforced concrete, this issue is easily solved with structural reinforcements of steel in places of greatest effort. Many architects and designers have appealed to this structural and constructive component in order to create unique spaces in interiors, allowing for a sense of openness with tall ceilings, leaving floor plans free of too many other structural elements. On the exteriors, these vaults also grant the building an interesting play of facades and shapes.
It takes skilled construction execution and precise structural works to deliver these elements that constitute great projects. Below, find 10 examples of barrel vaults, a construction technique that has permeated the entire history of architecture, built in reinforced concrete and applied in contemporary buildings.
Loisium Hotel Expansion / Steven Holl Architects
General Contracting by Swietelsky AG and Structural Engineering by RETTER & Partner Ziviltechniker.
Winery in Mont-Ras / Jorge Vidal + Víctor Rahola
Engineering and Construction by BAC.
OFMA Offices in a Vineyard / MAPAA
Structural Engineering by Manuel José Ruiz and Construction by Héctor Hernandez.
Taizhou Contemporary Art Museum / Atelier Deshaus
Project Engineering by Zhang Zhun and Shao Zhe.
S2 House / BELLAFILARQUITECTES
Structural Engineering Sustenta and Construction by Lluís Sabater.
The Qinchang Village Town Hall / Studio 10
Construction and Engineering by Anhui Fengyang Construction Engineering Co. Ltd. and Henan Chuanghui Architecture & Decoration Engineering Co. Ltd.
Tangshan Mine Bookstore of Librairie Avant-garde / SEU-ARCH + art+zen architects
Engineering by Zhu Peng.
Municipal Archive / Aulets Arquitectes
Structural Engineering by Alfons Romnero and Construction by Construcciones Marín.
Bewboc House / Fabian Tan Architect
Engineering by Projurutek Consulting Engineers.
Martha House / naso
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