Cross vaults in the architecture of the Middle Ages and the present

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Cross vaults in the architecture of the Middle Ages and the present
Cross vaults in the architecture of the Middle Ages and the present

If you've ever stood in a building and looked at the curved ceiling, you may have seen the groin vaults. In Romanesque churches in the first millennium AD, architects built a roof of wood or stone of a simpler design. But the wooden roofs always caught fire and burned the whole building. And with a barrel vault, it was so heavy that the walls had to be very thick. There was only room for a few tiny windows. As a result, the church looked dark.

cross vault in architecture

The emergence of a new design

Scholars believe that the style developed in Rome and gradually spread to Byzantine and Islamic architecture. At that time, the barrel vault was more common. But the Romans began developing a new type for applications in various structures, some with significant spans. First crusadethe vault appeared in Europe, but was built in Delphi by the Pergamon king Attalos I between 241 and 197. BC e. They were used in large halls, such as the frigidarium at the Baths of Caracalla and Diocletian.

The impact of temple construction

Gradually a new direction became very influential in the church architecture of the Middle Ages. The rush to build temples reached its zenith and the new type was aggressively introduced due to its ability to create a foothold without massive support formations. It also provided church architects with an opportunity to avoid the dim lighting of the previous design, which needed a lot of mass to maintain sufficient strength.

Romanesque vault

Design Features

Since 1050 CE e. architects have already actively used such vaults. When you look at the Romanesque cross vault, you see four curved surfaces that meet in the center. They consist of two cylindrical ones that intersect each other, forming the letter X. In order to make such a design, the builders crossed more familiar shapes in the middle at a perpendicular or right angle. Where the edges of the vaults meet, they create clear lines. They are also known as ribs. Compared with a barrel vault, the cross vault in architecture provides good material and labor savings.

Architectural fashion spread

Building of this type was first used by the Romans. But then in Europe it fell into relative obscurity until a resurgence.quality stone construction brought about by Carolingian and Romanesque architecture. The construction method was especially common at basement level, such as at Myres Castle in Scotland, or at ground floor level for storage areas, as at Muchalls Castle in the same country.

Difficult to build this structure accurately due to the geometry of the transverse ribs of the groin vault, which are usually elliptical in cross section. Therefore, such painstaking work required great skill in cutting stone. This was necessary to form a neat dome. It was replaced by the more flexible vaults of Gothic architecture in the late Middle Ages.

Romanesque cross vault

Advantages of the new design

The groin vault can be rounded, as in Romanesque churches, or pointed, as in Gothic ones. This arched structure is usually made of brick or stone and is designed to support the ceiling. The main advantage of this type is that it takes the entire weight of the roof and distributes it only at four points at the corners of each rib. This adds strength to the ceiling because all sides of the arch help distribute the weight and support the ceiling.

And if there are such supports, then there is no need to build a solid wall between them. Therefore, it became possible to make many glass windows. So the churches became brighter, and the parishioners in them felt the presence of sacred forces more.

roman cross

In the early medieval cross vaults there were six points of support - the corners and ends of another arch.For example, the Cathedral of Laon and Notre Dame in Paris used this type. But by 1200, most churches, such as Chartres or Rouen, were using groin vaults, which had four ribs. They required fewer supports, which allowed more light to enter the cathedral through the then huge windows.

Modern Architecture and Medieval Experience

The ceiling in the cross-domed vault is just the construction of several vaults in a row. By repeating this structure, the builders realized that they could cover long rectangular sections of space, such as corridors, with them. The groin vault ceiling is one of the most popular and beautiful forms in modern homes. However, the traditional construction method required to make this type of roof required considerable skill, time, and material. For example, a small space usually requires at least two experienced carpenters for two full-time jobs.

And that's assuming you don't include prep work, layout, layout, block cutting, and assembly. In addition, even those carpenters who have the skills required to create this ceiling either refuse or charge such an outlandish price that it becomes impractical to make such a structure.

cross vaults

20th century civil engineers studied the forces of static stress in the design of the groin vault and confirmed the foresight of the Romans in an efficient design that achieved several goals: minimal use of materials,wide range of construction, the ability to achieve side lighting and avoid structural stress. The most original contemporary design is Europe's largest train station, the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin, which features an entrance building with a glass mesh vault.

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