Concrete Barrel Vaults Applied in 10 Projects of Contemporary Architecture

It is believed that the oldest known record of barrel vaults dates back to 4000 BC. They were used to span the Sumerian ziggurat at Nipur in Babylonia. These vaults were made from clay mortar and fired bricks. This vault, which was constructed as a continuous circular arch, became a hallmark architectural element in Roman architecture. It was later used in Renaissance architecture.

A vault is a structural form that transfers loads to an abutment on either side. They compress structurally in an even manner throughout their forms. This vault was made of brick or stone and requires precise dimensions. The vectors of pressure exert a downward force upon the crown, while the lower arches push outwards.

This issue can be solved easily with reinforced concrete. Steel structural reinforcements are used in the most difficult places. This structural and constructive component has been used by many architects and designers to create unique interior spaces. It allows for an open feeling with high ceilings and leaves floor plans without any other structural elements. These vaults give the building an interesting mix of shapes and facades.

To deliver the elements that make up great projects, it takes skillful construction execution and precise structural work. Here are 10 examples of barrel vaults. This construction technique, which is made of reinforced concrete and used in modern buildings, has been used throughout history.

Loisium Hotel Expansion / Steven Holl Architects

General Contracting by Swietelsky AG and Structural Engineering by RETTER & Partner Ziviltechniker.

© Hertha Hurnaus
© Hertha Hurnaus
© Gregor Holzinger
© Gregor Holzinger
© Hertha Hurnaus
© Hertha Hurnaus

Winery in Mont-Ras / Jorge Vidal + Víctor Rahola

Engineering and Construction by BAC.

© José Hevia
© José Hevia
© José Hevia
© José Hevia
© José Hevia
© José Hevia

OFMA Offices in a Vineyard / MAPAA

Structural Engineering by Manuel José Ruiz and Construction by Héctor Hernandez.

© Pablo Casals Aguirre
© Pablo Casals Aguirre
© Pablo Casals Aguirre
© Pablo Casals Aguirre

Taizhou Contemporary Art Museum / Atelier Deshaus

Project Engineering by Zhang Zhun and Shao Zhe.

© Tian Fangfang
© Tian Fangfang
© Tian Fangfang
© Tian Fangfang

S2 House / BELLAFILARQUITECTES

Structural Engineering Sustenta and Construction by Lluís Sabater.

© Adrià Goula
© Adrià Goula
© Adrià Goula
© Adrià Goula

The Qinchang Village Town Hall / Studio 10

Construction and Engineering by Anhui Fengyang Construction Engineering Co. Ltd. and Henan Chuanghui Architecture & Decoration Engineering Co. Ltd.

© Chao Zhang
© Chao Zhang
© Chao Zhang
© Chao Zhang
© Chao Zhang
© Chao Zhang

Tangshan Mine Bookstore of Librairie Avant-garde / SEU-ARCH + art+zen architects

Engineering by Zhu Peng. 

© Timeraw Studio
© Timeraw Studio
© Timeraw Studio
© Timeraw Studio

Municipal Archive / Aulets Arquitectes

Structural Engineering by Alfons Romnero and Construction by Construcciones Marín.

© José Hevia
© José Hevia
© José Hevia
© José Hevia
© José Hevia
© José Hevia

Bewboc House / Fabian Tan Architect

Engineering by Projurutek Consulting Engineers.

© Ceavs Chua
© Ceavs Chua
© Ceavs Chua
© Ceavs Chua

Martha House / naso

© Maureen M. Evans
© Maureen M. Evans