Illustrated Architecture Dictionary


A curved or pointed structural member which is supported at the sides or ends

Arches vary in shape from the horizontal flat arch to acutely pointed arches

An arch sometimes consists of wedge-shaped blocks called voussoirs

Types of arches:

Baskethandle (elliptical) arches are found in Italianate, Beaux Arts Classical styles

A compound arch is an arch formed by concentric arches set within one another

Flat arch/jack arch:  a flat arch (as a lintel with a keystone);  an arch of the thickness of one brick;  an arch whose intrados is flat or almost flat, instead of being curved or rounded.

Jack arch lintel: A door or window lintel constructed with splayed bricks.

Florentine arches have voussoirs longer at the crown than at the springing (the point where an arch rises from its supports)

Ogee/Venetian arch is a molding formed by two curves, the upper concave and the lower convex, so forming an S-shaped curve

Horseshoe arch

Pointed (Gothic) arches are found in Gothic Revival style

Round arches are found especially in Italianate, Italian Renaissance Revival, Richardsonian Romanesque styles

A segmental arch is a circular arch in which the inner circle ("intrados") is less than a semicircle

Syrian arches are found in Richardsonian Romanesque, Shingle, styles

Splayed arch: An arch opening which has a larger radius in front than at the back

Transverse arch: An arch of the vault that runs perpendicular to the nave that divides one bay - or groin vaults - from another.

Tudor arches (flattened Gothic) arches are found in Tudor Revival, Gothic Revival styles

Tympanum: The recessed face of a pediment

See also: Coliseum - Roman Arches

Excerpts from
Gardner's Art Through the Ages, Tenth Edition
By Richard G. Tansey and Fred S. Kleiner
Harcourt Brace College.  Pub. 1996, p. 325.

Horseshoe Shaped Arches

The lower arches [in the Mosque of Cordoba] are horseshoe shaped ... now closely associated with Muslim architecture. Visually, these arches seem to billow out like sails blown by the wind, and they contribute greatly to the light and airy effect of the mosque's interior.

Early Islamic buildings had wooden roofs, and the experiments with arch forms were motivated less by structural necessity than by a desire to create rich and varied visual effects...

, the large ribs that subdivide the hemispheric surface of the dome into a number of smaller sections are primarily ornamental.

In the hands of Gothic builders, centuries later, ribs in combination with   the pointed arch became fundamental structural elements of a new and revolutionary architectural system.

Examples from Buffalo architecture:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2003 Chuck LaChiusa
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