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

Location: China
Architects: ADAP Architects
Year: 2017

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.

Red Brick Country Auditorium - Sheet1
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2. Casa Volta

Location: Mexico
Architects: Ambrosi I Etchegaray
Year: 2018

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.

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Casa Volta © www.designboom.com/architecture/casa-volta-ambrosi-etchegaray-oaxaca-mexico-09-29-19/
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Casa Volta © www.designboom.com/architecture/casa-volta-ambrosi-etchegaray-oaxaca-mexico-09-29-19/
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Casa Volta © www.designboom.com/architecture/casa-volta-ambrosi-etchegaray-oaxaca-mexico-09-29-19/

3. Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre

Location: South Africa
Architects: Peter Rich Architects
Year: 2009

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.

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre - Sheet1
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Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre ©www.archdaily.com/57106/mapungubwe-interpretation-centre-peter-rich-architects?ad_medium=gallery

4. Mont-Ras Winery

Location: Spain
Architects: Jorge Videl, Victor Rahola
Year: 2016

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.

Mont-Ras Winery - Sheet1
Mont-Ras Winery ©www.designboom.com/architecture/jorge-vidal-tomas-victor-rahola-mont-ras-winery-catalonia-vaulted-ceilings-01-16-2017/
Mont-Ras Winery - Sheet2
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5. Xinzhai Coffee Manor

Location: China
Architects: Trace Architecture Office (TOA)
Year: 2018

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.

Xinzhai Coffee Manor - Sheet1
Xinzhai Coffee Manor ©archinect.com/firms/project/150125467/xinzhai-coffee-manor/150125471
Xinzhai Coffee Manor - Sheet2
Xinzhai Coffee Manor ©archinect.com/firms/project/150125467/xinzhai-coffee-manor/150125471

6. Villa Sarabhai

Location: India
Architect: Le Corbusier
Year: 1955

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.

Villa Sarabhai - Sheet1
Villa Sarabhai ©in.pinterest.com/pin/494692340289413204/
Villa Sarabhai - Sheet2
Villa Sarabhai ©in.pinterest.com/pin/493636809148343380/

7. Sangath

Location: India
Architect: BV Doshi
Year: 1981

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.

Sangath - Sheet1
Sangath ©www.sangath.org/news/pritzker-prize-winner-balkrishna-doshi/
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Sangath ©www.sawdust.online/projects/sangath-ahmedabad-balkrishna-doshi/

8. Vibo Tvaerve

Location: Denmark
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.

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Vibo Tvaerve ©www.dezeen.com/2019/06/21/valbaek-brorup-architects-vibo-tvaerveh-danish-cabin/
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Vibo Tvaerve ©www.dezeen.com/2019/06/21/valbaek-brorup-architects-vibo-tvaerveh-danish-cabin/

9. Kimbell Art Museum

Location: US
Architect: Louis Kahn
Year: 1972

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.

Kimbell Art Museum - Sheet1
Kimbell art museum ©archeyes.com/kimbell-art-museum-louis-kahn/
Kimbell Art Museum - Sheet2
Kimbell art museum ©archeyes.com/kimbell-art-museum-louis-kahn/

10. Maya Somaiya Library

Location: India
Architects: Sameep Padora and Associates
Year: 2018

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.

Maya Somaiya Library - Sheet1
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Maya Somaiya Library ©www.archdaily.com/903713/maya-somaiya-library-sharda-school-sameep-padora-and-associates?ad_medium=gallery
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Maya Somaiya Library ©www.dezeen.com/2018/10/08/sameep-padora-associates-kopargaon-india-school-library-architecture/

11. Terreno House

Location: Mexico
Architects: Fernanda Canals
Year: 2018

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.

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Terreno House ©www.archdaily.com/921027/bravo-house-fernanda-canales?ad_medium=gallery
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Terreno House ©www.archdaily.com/921027/bravo-house-fernanda-canales?ad_medium=gallery

12. Old Jaffa House

Location: Israel
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.

Old Jaffa House - Sheet1
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Old Jaffa House ©www.archdaily.com/932352/old-jaffa-house-4-pitsou-kedem-architects?ad_medium=gallery

13. Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum

Location: China
Architects: Studio Zhu-Pei
Year: 2020

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.

Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum - Sheet1
Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum ©www.dezeen.com/2020/11/16/jingdezhen-imperial-kiln-museum-studio-zhu-pei-china/
Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum - Sheet2
Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum ©www.dezeen.com/2020/11/16/jingdezhen-imperial-kiln-museum-studio-zhu-pei-china/
Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum - Sheet3
Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum ©www.archdaily.com/948083/jingdezhen-imperial-kiln-museum-studio-zhu-pei?ad_medium=gallery

14. Rei Marti Deposit

Location: Spain
Architects: ARCHIKUBIK
Year: 2015

Catalan vaults have been arranged every 3.5m, creating a dynamic rhythm.

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Rei Marti Deposit - Sheet2
Rei Marti Deposit ©www.archdaily.com/894226/rei-marti-deposit-archikubik?ad_medium=gallery

15. Casa Tomas

Location: Spain
Architects: LAB, Pepe Gascon
Year: 2013

Brick barrel vaults were designed as the roofing system for this apartment.

Casa Tomas - Sheet1
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Casa Tomas - Sheet2
Casa Tomas ©www.archdaily.com/477492/house-tomas-lab?ad_medium=gallery
Author

Kavya Turaga is a third year architecture student from Bangalore. She believes that every building has a story and a soul, which helps in understanding its unique character. She finds inspiration in the smallest of things and is passionate about architectural photography.

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