Geometric principles in additive systems for construction of vaults: The block and the joint

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Vaults and shell constructions are among the most fascinating elements in architecture. Covering large spaces has always been a challenge in architecture and engineering and the vault with curved and double curved form has a special significance. Throughout the history of Christianity domes and vaults has been looked at as synonymous with representations of the vault of heaven, paradise or the universe. Pantheons dome was a temple of all Gods, Hagia Sofia’s dome was a representation of the golden heaven of Christ. The Renaissance in Italy was initiated with the dome of Santa Maria della Fiore. The Barouque style followed with the domes of Borromini; Bernini and Guarini. The Period of Enlightenment had iconic tunnel- and dome vault projects by Etienne l. Boulée. All these stone vaults were made by additive systems in bricks and mortar. In the century concrete was introduced and the reinforced concrete made new large spans possible. These was in-situ casted and not additive systems. Utzon’s Sydney opera house from the mid-fifties combined the additive system, iron reinforcement and concrete into at new prefabricated vault system, which could handle the complex geometry of the shells.
Before starting a research project on prefabricated additive systems for vaulting, we wanted to find out more about the basic principles or methods for additive systems used for vaulting.
The research project focuses on the use of prefabricated additive systems for vaults:single and double curved shells. We wanted to examine vault systems which make use of repetitions of units. The objective was to describe the additive system and isolate the components.
The research project started to investigate the vaulting systems of some famous/well known vaults and domes from the history of architecture and engineering in order to “decompose” them and describe the geometric principles of the system.
We found that old vaulting systems made with added components consist of solid standard blocks and an adaptable joint layer. We could see that this fundamental principle of the systems barely had changed throughout history. This paper will describe this approach to vaulting systems.
This investigation looks at modular systems without focussing on the static aspect. Which geometric principles are used and how are they joined together, creating a complex vault geometry.
The study of these principles are at last compared to principles of joining elements in other materials.
Keywords: Vaults, additive systems, shells, complex geometry, basic geometric principles.
Translated title of the contributionGeometriske principper for additive systemer til hvælv konstrutrioner: modul og sammenføjning
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) Symposium 2015, Amsterdam : Future Visions
Number of pages11
PublisherInternational Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS )
Publication date17 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2015
EventFuture Visions: IASS 2015 annual International Symposium on Future Visions - AMSTERDAM, Netherlands
Duration: 17 Aug 201520 Aug 2015


ConferenceFuture Visions

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