A vault is a self-supporting arch form that is usually built of stone, brick or concrete and is used as a roof to cover a space. Vaults are commonly found in Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic architecture. The most basic form of a vault is the barrel vault. Other types include: ribbed, groin, fan, Catalan.
A traditional vault is arch-shaped and uses masonry. Masonry vaults are composed of wedge-shaped pieces held in place by the pressure of the adjacent pieces. Modern vaults are generally built of RCC. With a better understanding of construction techniques and materials, the concept of the hyperbolic paraboloid is being applied for the construction of vaults, these are very thin and strong and can be created in shapes other than the traditional forms.
Vaults are gaining popularity in modern architecture due to several advantages such as—they cover a larger volume of space while utilizing a lower cost, reduced dead load by economizing foundation, and for their aesthetic appeal.
Here are 15 examples of Vaulted Ceilings in modern context:
1. Red Brick Country Auditorium
Architects: ADAP Architects
The architects used a hybrid approach for constructing the vault. Three types of brick masonry are used on the seven Catalonian vaults. The vault was built to cover the stage area.
2. Casa Volta
Architects: Ambrosi I Etchegaray
Three brick vaults set within extremely dense vegetation, two of which cover private areas and the third is semi-closed, covers the kitchen, dining and living. The site had large clay content used for manufacturing bricks, that were used to construct the vault which was built over a concrete structure. Clay pigmenting finishing was provided. Open vaults and lattice reed work allowed good ventilation throughout the site.
3. Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre
Location: South Africa
Architects: Peter Rich Architects
Traditional timbrel vaulting technique using locally pressed soil-cement tiles was employed. This technique called for no skilled labour or steel reinforcement. Minimum formwork used during the construction of these stone-clad vaults.
4. Mont-Ras Winery
Architects: Jorge Videl, Victor Rahola
Series of elongated barrel vaults roofed the winery. The primary material for the construction of the vaults was concrete. Roof gardens insulated the structure and maintained temperature.
5. Xinzhai Coffee Manor
Architects: Trace Architecture Office (TOA)
Not far from the site was a brick kiln that produced grey bricks used to assemble the vaults. The technique implemented combined long-span steel beams and one-way brick vaults to achieve continuous open spaces. Cross vaults created cellar-like spaces.
6. Villa Sarabhai
Architect: Le Corbusier
Catalonian vaults are carried to the walls by an intermediate rough concrete lintel. Flat tiles are set in plaster without any formwork, with a row of bricks cast in cement. On waterproofing, the vaults were covered with earth converting the upper part of each house into a lawn.
Architect: BV Doshi
An angled approach has been used for the construction of these eye-level vaults. The roof is made of locally made clay and is wrapped in china mosaic. The underside of the vault is finished with textured concrete. The vaults sit over a concrete slab.
8. Vibo Tvaerve
Architects: Valbaek Brorup Architects
The barrel vault is covered with corrugated steel. Internally eight arched steel beams were installed to create a dynamic character on the interior. The exterior is clad with rolled steel plates which add an industrial touch to the structure.
9. Kimbell Art Museum
Architect: Louis Kahn
The primary materials used to create this vault are- concrete, travertine and white oak, and are rimmed with plexiglass skylights to allow natural light to penetrate. A cycloid barrel vault was used as the form can support its weight and can withstand high pressure. The weight of the vault is distributed between four 2ft2 corner columns. Steel cables were placed on the inside of the vaults along the length of each vault. Hydraulic jacks were used to tighten steel cables to create a post-tensioning system which distributes and supports the weight of the roof.
10. Maya Somaiya Library
Architects: Sameep Padora and Associates
The principles used during construction was the Catalan tile vaulting system and compression ring detail. The form of this brick vault was created using the modelling software Rhino. Brick was laid lengthwise on top of a wooden formwork. The vault spans 44m and comprises three layers of 32mm thick bricks held in place by mortar. The vault was designed in a manner that it is held by compression only.
11. Terreno House
Architects: Fernanda Canals
Concrete vaults were erected to generate a new topography that coexists with the surrounding context. The vaults are topped with clay and have a green roof.
12. Old Jaffa House
Architects: Pitsou Kedem Architects
Original stone from the site was exposed and treated to create these stone vaults. The interior partition was separated from the stone vaults, creating subspaces in the arched open spaces.
13. Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum
Architects: Studio Zhu-Pei
The architects drew their inspiration from the traditional form of the kiln while designing these brick vaults. Each vault has been created of different dimensions that include its size, curvature and length. It is an open vault created by pouring concrete between two layers of brick masonry walls.
14. Rei Marti Deposit
Catalan vaults have been arranged every 3.5m, creating a dynamic rhythm.
15. Casa Tomas
Architects: LAB, Pepe Gascon
Brick barrel vaults were designed as the roofing system for this apartment.