A vault is a constructive technique that is achieved by compressing the materials forming it together. While this technique has existed since the time of the ancient Romans, certain types of vaulted ceilings, such as the Catalan or Valencian timbral vault, only reached popularity in some areas of the world at the start of the 19th century thanks to their lost cost and ready availability. With the ability to span over 30 meters and add substantial height to structures, vaulted ceilings became a go-to for the construction of industrial spaces such as workshops, factories, and warehouses.
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The Catalan Vault in Spanish Architecture: 15 Projects that Are Breathing New Life into An Old Technique
In some cases, a roof can become the shining centerpiece in a work of architecture. Catalan vault, also known as Valencian timbrel vault, became a fixture in Spanish architecture in the 19th century, popularized thanks to its low cost and ease of sourcing and assembly. With the ability to span over 30m per module, this technique is currently making a comeback, establishing itself as a go-to construction method in industrial architecture and can be seen in everything including workshops, factories, and warehouses.
Italy-based New Fundamentals Research Group recently designed and built a full-scale prototype of an experimental barrel-vaulted stone structure for SNBR, a French company that specializes in cutting-edge stone construction. The structure is named Hypar Vault in a reference to the geometry of its constituent blocks; it uses two types of prefabricated stone modules—one type is the mirror image of the other—whose designs are based on the hypar (hyperbolic paraboloid), one of the only "doubly-ruled" surfaces in geometry. The use of these configurations allowed the vault to be constructed with almost zero wasted stone.