A vault (French voute, from Italian volta) is a self-supporting arching structure in architecture that serves to cover an area with a ceiling or roof. The barrel vault (also known as a wagon or tunnel vault) is the most basic type of vault, with a semicircular form. It consists of alternating rows of ribs and panels. The ribs may be of stone or wood and the panels may be of wood or metal.
The word "vault" comes from the Latin vacca, meaning "cow", because the first churches were built over pre-existing pagan temples that had ceilings made of wooden beams supported by columns and covered with sheets of bronze or gold leaf. These images of cows are still found on some modern church ceilings.
The Romans invented the technique of cementing stones together to make them more durable than rocks alone. This allowed for larger buildings to be constructed with less risk of collapse. In medieval times, when timber was widely used to build houses and ships, it became important to protect floors and roofs against the weather. Ceilings were now needed above kitchens and dining rooms to provide privacy for families and shelter from the wind and rain. Wooden beams were replaced with stone for greater strength, but ceilings were still made from wood because there were no good alternatives at the time. By the late 15th century, when brick began to be used instead, they too were made of wood and painted to look like stone.
A barrel vault is the most basic type of vault, consisting of a single continuous archway. These lovely curving ceilings are made up of three fundamental measurements: length, breadth, and rise. The length of the barrel vault is measured from one end to the other. The breadth is the distance between the two sides of the room. The rise is the height of the vault itself.
Barrel vaults were first used in Christian Europe as roofing over naves and aisles in churches. They remained popular into the 15th century before being replaced by ribbed gables. Today they are found mostly in Catholic churches and monasteries in regions such as Italy, Spain, and Latin America.
The beauty of a barrel-vaulted ceiling is that it requires very little structural support, since all the weight is spread out over a large area. If you look at a typical church with this type of ceiling, you'll see that it's just below the main roof line, where it meets the wall tiles or stone beams. This is because the weight of the plaster or wood paneling would be too great for the walls to bear if it was located anywhere else.
Barrel vaults are also ideal for rooms where soundproofing is important, such as recording studios or music schools.
The barrel vault ceiling was designed by CEILTRIM. The barrel vault ceiling has an upward arch that runs the entire length of the room, similar to a barrel cut in half. The weight of the roof is supported by thick vertical posts set into the walls at regular intervals. The posts create shadows on the floor below.
A half-vaulted ceiling is exactly what it sounds like: Only part of the ceiling is arched. The other parts are flat or have simple cornices or trim. Sometimes these areas are referred to as "flying" or "half-timbered" ceilings because the wood used in their construction is usually less than three inches thick.
Half-vaulting was commonly used in England and some other European countries for many years before the barrel vault became popular. It is still used today in some traditional English buildings. Half-vaulting is much easier to construct than a full barrel vault, so it was often used as practice for new builders. There are two different methods used for half-vaulting: one where the arches overlap each other and another where they do not touch.
As you can see in the photo below, the half-arched portion of this ceiling is made up of four separate arches that do not touch each other.
The barrel vault is the ultimate curving ceiling. A concave or barrel-shaped ceiling is curved or rounded upward for aesthetic or acoustical value, whereas a coffered ceiling is split into recessed square or octagonal panels, sometimes known as a "lacunar ceiling." Barrel vaults and coffered ceilings can be used together or separately.
Barrel vaults were most common in Europe before the advent of the truss in the 17th century (although some late medieval buildings in France and Germany still use wooden beams without ties). The word "barrel" comes from a Latin phrase meaning "cask for wine," because the shape resembles an old-fashioned wine cask with staves but no neck.
In English churches built after 1500, barrel vaults were usually made of wood, although stone versions also exist. In American churches built after 1800, barrel vaults are generally made of concrete.
Barrel vaults are used extensively in music venues to create a spacious feeling in smaller rooms. They are also popular in bartops and dining rooms where their appearance adds to the room's charm.
Barrel vaults come in two varieties: convex and concave. Convex barrels are shaped like balls; they tend to have higher peaks and lower valleys than concave barrels. Concave barrels look like bowls; they have taller peaks and lower valleys than convex barrels.
This set's terms (14)
A vaulted ceiling is an architectural term for a self-supporting arch above walls and beneath a roof. "They employ empty roof structural space to enlarge a standard flat ceiling." This is done by hanging the arches from which the roof is suspended. The distance between the bottoms of the arches is called the span. The height of the ceiling is called its rise.
In architecture, pitch is the ratio of the elevation's change per unit length along a horizontal plane. Thus, a 10-15% slope is very steep, while a 5-10% slope is less so. Pitch can also be expressed as a percentage: 100 divided by the rise in feet. For example, a 30-40 degree sloping roof with 2 inches of water pressure on every square foot of surface area would cause significant damage to many roofs.
The maximum allowable slope of a building or structure is 1:12 for ground level to floor level, or 9% average slope. This allows enough leeway for minor undulations in the ground surface without causing problems for foot traffic or vehicle access. On top of this limit, some local authorities may have their own restrictions regarding the maximum slope that buildings can have. These regulations are usually put in place to prevent erosion and flooding.
A "drum" is an elliptical or circular wall that supports a dome. If this structure extends to ground level, the round construction may be referred to as a "rotunda." When the drum is not supported by a dome, but rather sits on a plinth or base of some kind, it is called a "vaulted ceiling." Church drums were originally constructed with wood, but now most often made of brick or stone. The walls and roof are usually covered in plaster or drywall.
The word "dome" comes from the Greek eidos, which means form. Thus, a dome is a shell shaped like a sphere or ball.
Domes were first used in churches about A.D. 350. They were built of wood at first, but later of brick or stone. With roofs made of lead or copper, they protected the priests during ceremonies and important documents were also kept under them. But beginning in the 11th century, domes started to be made of fabric instead. Made of linen or cotton, these domes provided more light and air than a roof made of wood or shingles. And since they could be taken down for cleaning or repair work, they were preferred by builders over other types of roofs.