Wooden roof framing.................    Illustrated Architecture Dictionary


 An arched structure of stone, brick, or reinforced concrete, forming a supporting structure of a ceiling or roof

Ribs and vaults are commonly found in Romanesque Revival and Gothic Revival styles.

Domes - A type of vault

For scores of years the Romanesque builders experimented in vaulting; the problem was not solved until the Normans hit upon the plan of covering the space with a framework of ribs and laying the stones in courses from rib to rib. The novelty of the method lay in the use made of the principal of balance as a means of ensuring stability, a principle which, incidentally, did away with the necessity for columns and piers of great size and strength.

Gothic vaulting is nothing but an application of the principle of balance to the roof. The ribs of the vault, balanced the one against the other, and not the material between, are the real roof. What the Gothic builders did was to create a science of vaulting out of the idea of balance which the Romanesque masons had tested.

- Ernest H. Short, History of Religious Architecture     (2002)

There are three major types of vaults: barrel, groin. and rib:

Barrel vault / Barrel roof

A straight, continuous arched vault or ceiling, either semicircular or semi-elliptical in profile

A barrel vault is a simple, concave cylindrical roof surface which looks like a barrel. A disadvantage is that the entire vault must be built at the same time, and later repairs are difficult to make because the entire barrel vault is affected.

Groin(ed) vault / Cross vault

A vault created where two barrel vaults meet at right angles

Developed by the Romans.

These vaults were easier to build than barrel vaults because small areas could be vaulted independently of one another.

Arches are either round (Romanesque) or pointed (Gothic).

When two barrel vaults intersect at a right angle, the juncture forms a groin or cross-vault, which provides lunette windows for lighting at either end.

The stress load on a groin vault is to the four corners, or piers.  The groin vault is an intrinsically stronger design than the barrel vault because the barrel vault structure must rest on long walls creating less stable lateral stress, whereas the groin vault design can direct stresses almost purely vertically on the piers

Web: Surface framed by the ribs of a ribbed vault

 Rib(bed) vaults

A section of the roof of a church made by building a skeleton of two or more ribs and later filling in the spaces between with stone and/or rubble.

A vault supported by arched diagonal ribs.

A ribbed vault is a ceiling crisscrossed by several projections which look like "ribs" in the human anatomy.

Medieval European builders developed a modification, the rib vault, a skeleton of arches or ribs on which the masonry could be laid.   Ribbed vaults are commonly found in Romanesque and Gothic styles and their derivatives.

The rib vault superseded the groin vault as the preferred solution for enclosing space in Gothic architecture.

An advantage to using ribbed vaults is that little scaffolding is needed - the ribbed vault can be built be from above. Another advantage is that one section at a time can be built and later added to. Further, odd spaces can be easily include ribbing.

Transverse arches: An arch of the vault that runs perpendicular to the nave that divides one bay from another

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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