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Arches in Interior Design: 26 Projects that Reimagine the Classical Shape

Arches in Interior Design: 26 Projects that Reimagine the Classical Shape

Although the use of arches in architecture dates back to the 2nd millennium B.C., it was the Romans who solidified them as both an engineering element and a symbol of military victories, which we now see excessively as memorial arches. Shortly after, different civilizations and cultures adopted the arch for their own purposes, bridging together structural necessity and aesthetics. In this article, we look at how arches evolved from significant structural elements to captivating decorative details.

Samna Restaurant / YOD Group. Image © Andrey BezuglovGarden Tour / PADSTUDIO. Image © Rongkun ChenSSAB Flagship Store / Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio. Image © Vlad Patru ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design. Image © Dmitriy Sergienko+ 30

Similar to how the function of arches evolved throughout the years with different civilizations, its form changed as well. Romans utilized the semicircular arch for their bridges and grand structures, whereas the Abbasids (a caliphate that ruled the Arab, Persian, and Mesopotamian regions) opted for the pointed arch, initiating its reference to religion and grandiosity. Following their use in mosques, pointed arches became extensively used in cathedrals in Medieval Europe, and were developed into vaults, making the two essential design elements in Gothic architecture. Segmental arches were introduced during the Middle Ages, optimizing bridge constructions for their load-bearing capabilities. The 19th and 20th centuries saw the use of Catenary arches, which promoted the arch from a structural feat to an architectural one, as seen extensively in Gaudi’s architecture. Fast forward to modern times, arches have been further explored and manipulated, adopting numerous new styles and functions.

Structure

Since earliest civilizations, masons have taken advantage of arches’ structural abilities and have constructed monumental structures that are still standing to this day. In terms of engineering, arches are considered more advantageous than lintels and horizontal beams due to the fact that they can be assembled with smaller material, and are able to span wider openings. The reason for this is that the pressure traveling downwards pushes the voussoirs (the stones forming the shape of the arch) together and downwards towards the bulky vertical supports, instead of outwards. In the case of slimmer vertical supports, repetitive rows of arches and their vertical supports are aligned consecutively, allowing the imposed weight to be distributed amongst the arcade (series of arches). Today, adaptive reuse projects saw the rehabilitation of these arches and vaults, maintaining their structural purposes but with a refined contemporary finish.

Library, Museum and Community Center ‘De Petrus’ / Molenaar&Bol&vanDillen Architects

Library, Museum and Community Center ‘De Petrus’ / Molenaar&Bol&vanDillen Architects. Image © Stijn Poelstra
Library, Museum and Community Center ‘De Petrus’ / Molenaar&Bol&vanDillen Architects. Image © Stijn Poelstra

Samna Restaurant / YOD Group

Samna Restaurant / YOD Group. Image © Andrey Bezuglov
Samna Restaurant / YOD Group. Image © Andrey Bezuglov

Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp / KAAN Architecten

Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp / KAAN Architecten. Image © Karin Borghouts
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp / KAAN Architecten. Image © Karin Borghouts

Facade Openings

Several adaptive reuse projects left the form of their arched doors and windows intact, bridging the historic with the contemporary. This old x new design style creates a balance between traditional characteristics that radiate warmth and familiarity, and modern elements that radiate edge and dynamism. Since modern architecture embodies minimal and linear geometric structures, adding arched openings creates a visual contrast, animating the facade and structure as a whole. In some residential projects, architects described arched windows and doors as “child-friendly approach, adding curves to the walls and an arched window for each child”.

Empire Stores / S9 Architecture

Empire Stores / S9 Architecture . Image Courtesy of S9 Architecture
Empire Stores / S9 Architecture . Image Courtesy of S9 Architecture

FRISTO, Frozen Market / EFEEME arquitectos

FRISTO, Frozen Market / EFEEME arquitectos. Image © Gonzalo Viramonte
FRISTO, Frozen Market / EFEEME arquitectos. Image © Gonzalo Viramonte

Valetta House / Office S&M

Valetta House / Office S&M. Image © French + Tye
Valetta House / Office S&M. Image © French + Tye

Wall / Partition

Another way architects and designers have implemented arches in their designs is through arched interior walls and partitions. As mentioned before, arches have great load-bearing characteristics, so having arched interior walls and partitions will not cause any structural constraints. Instead, the design acts as a soft intervention that’s not too imposing or disruptive to the space, opening two spaces together while maintaining their respective boundaries.

NUBO Kindergarten / PAL Design

NUBO Kindergarten / PAL Design. Image © Michele Young, Amy Piddington
NUBO Kindergarten / PAL Design. Image © Michele Young, Amy Piddington

Flagship Store Mietis / Evvo Retail

Flagship Store Mietis / Evvo Retail. Image © Nerea Garro
Flagship Store Mietis / Evvo Retail. Image © Nerea Garro

Golden Age Wine / David Baker Architects

Golden Age Wine / David Baker Architects. Image © Rob Culpepper
Golden Age Wine / David Baker Architects. Image © Rob Culpepper

SSAB Flagship Store / Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio

SSAB Flagship Store / Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio. Image © Vlad Patru
SSAB Flagship Store / Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio. Image © Vlad Patru

Samna Restaurant / YOD Group

Samna Restaurant / YOD Group. Image © Andrey Bezuglov
Samna Restaurant / YOD Group. Image © Andrey Bezuglov

Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort, Phase 02 / onion

Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort, Phase 02 / onion. Image © Wworkspace
Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort, Phase 02 / onion. Image © Wworkspace

Motif on Wall

In projects where space is limited, designers add an additional “false wall” just in front of the existing one to create a dual-space and depth illusion. Oftentimes, these false walls differ in scale and finish to highlight the contrast between both. In this case, however, these motifs hold minimal to no responsibility in carrying the weight of the ceiling above them, since they are mainly used for decorative or conceptual purposes.

ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design

 ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design. Image © Dmitriy Sergienko
ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design. Image © Dmitriy Sergienko

Flagship Store Mietis / Evvo Retail

Flagship Store Mietis / Evvo Retail. Image © Nerea Garro
Flagship Store Mietis / Evvo Retail. Image © Nerea Garro

Garden Tour / PADSTUDIO

Garden Tour / PADSTUDIO. Image © Rongkun Chen
Garden Tour / PADSTUDIO. Image © Rongkun Chen

Installations

Installations are all about first impressions, so the use of arch-shaped installations is hardly random or coincidental. In addition to premeditated design concepts and the reasons mentioned above, these installations are seen as inviting structures that establish visual continuity and provide a sense of direction for their visitors. Although pointed arches are seen as vertical extensions, guiding the eye upwards, visitors still feel as though the structure is embracing them.

XYTS Shop / WGNB

XYTS Shop / WGNB. Image Courtesy of WGNB
XYTS Shop / WGNB. Image Courtesy of WGNB

Installation by Diebedo Francis Kere

Siza, Souto de Moura, Kuma Reflect on Their 'Sensing Spaces' Exhibitions. Installation by Diebedo Francis Kere. Image © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014.. Image © James Harris
Siza, Souto de Moura, Kuma Reflect on Their 'Sensing Spaces' Exhibitions. Installation by Diebedo Francis Kere. Image © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014.. Image © James Harris

Arcades by Troika

Arcade Lighting Installation by Troika . Image Courtesy of Troika
Arcade Lighting Installation by Troika . Image Courtesy of Troika

Furniture and Accessories 

When it comes to furniture, accessories, and ornaments, designers have combined all of the arches' attributes mentioned above and employed them in smaller scales. Whether it’s for their structural stability or sense of order, designers have paid homage to historic architecture through the smallest design features, creating timeless interior designs.

Agora Office / SCEG Architetti

Agora Office / SCEG Architetti. Image © Barbara Corsico
Agora Office / SCEG Architetti. Image © Barbara Corsico

ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design

ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design. Image © Dmitriy Sergienko
ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design. Image © Dmitriy Sergienko

Ulupinar Textile Headquarters Showroom / Zemberek Design

Ulupinar Textile Headquarters Showroom / Zemberek Design. Image © Ibrahim Ozbunar
Ulupinar Textile Headquarters Showroom / Zemberek Design. Image © Ibrahim Ozbunar

Architecture 

Another way arches have been employed in contemporary architecture is as the project’s entire form, and this article cannot be complete without looking at these projects and how they have impacted the interior space. The use of these extended arches and barrel vaults make the interior space appear like tunnels, continuous and elongated, resulting in an uninterrupted perspective from inside and connecting it with the outside landscape or scenery. In addition, arched architectures were used for ventilation purposes, as they allow air to circulate within the space more freely and abundantly. In certain projects, they were used as a conceptual reference to other elements, such as historic churches and cathedrals, or to mimic “the visual and acoustic experience of the movement of the waves”.

OFMA Offices in a Vineyard / MAPAA

Gallery of OFMA Offices in a Vineyard / MAPAA - 1. Image © Pablo Cassals Aguirre
Gallery of OFMA Offices in a Vineyard / MAPAA - 1. Image © Pablo Cassals Aguirre

Terraces of Manantiales / MSGSSV

Architecture Classic: Terraces of Manantiales / MSGSSV. Image Courtesy of MSGSSV
Architecture Classic: Terraces of Manantiales / MSGSSV. Image Courtesy of MSGSSV

Bewboc House / Fabian Tan Architect

Bewboc House / Fabian Tan Architect. Image © Ceavs Chua
Bewboc House / Fabian Tan Architect. Image © Ceavs Chua

Sforza House / Taller de Arquitectura X / Alberto Kalach

Sforza House / Taller de Arquitectura X / Alberto Kalach. Image © Alex Krotkov
Sforza House / Taller de Arquitectura X / Alberto Kalach. Image © Alex Krotkov

3D Printing Concrete House / Professor XU Weiguo‘s team from the Tsinghua University School of Architecture

3D Printing Concrete House / Professor XU Weiguo‘s team from the Tsinghua University School of Architecture. Image Courtesy of XWG Archi Studio at Tsinghua University
3D Printing Concrete House / Professor XU Weiguo‘s team from the Tsinghua University School of Architecture. Image Courtesy of XWG Archi Studio at Tsinghua University

Find more projects of arches in architecture and interior spaces in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.

This article is part of an ArchDaily series that explores features of interior architecture, from our own data base of projects. Every month, we will highlight how architects and designers are utilizing new elements, new characteristics and new signatures in interior spaces around the world. As always, at ArchDaily, we highly appreciate the input of our readers. If you think we should mention specific ideas, please submit your suggestions.

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Cite: Dima Stouhi. "Arches in Interior Design: 26 Projects that Reimagine the Classical Shape" 05 May 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/961039/arches-in-interior-design-26-projects-that-reimagine-the-classical-shape> ISSN 0719-8884
PENTHOUSE / P-M-A-A. Image © José Hevia

26个室内设计项目,以现代手法演绎拱门

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