Types of Vaults

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In the architecture world, arched structures can generate a projection, which is commonly known as a vault. Generally, they run in a horizontal direction. They can be seen anywhere from architecture built in ancient Egypt to architecture from the Gothic period in Europe. There are different styles of vaults existing in building structures from ancient times to today.


Barrel Vault

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A barrel vault is the simplest of the vaults and is the base design for many vaults that have a more intricate design. It consists of an ongoing series of semicircular arches. One is directly behind another, causing it to look like a half of a barrel. In some instances, it is described as resembling a tunnel.

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Groin Vault

A groin vault is created by two barrel vaults intersecting at right angles. The arches of groin vaults are round or pointed. It is also known as a cross vault.

Rib Vault

A vault reinforced by masonry ribs is known as a rib vault. When this type of vault has two masonry ribs dividing it into four sections, it is called a quadripartite rib vault. Avault divided by three masonry ribs that make six sections is called a sexpartite rib vault.


Cloister Vault

A cloister vault has a domed shape and has a base that is square or shaped like a polygon. It has curved sections that rise from the square or polygon to a centered point.

Fan Vault

Half cones that are fan-shaped are know as fan vaults. The cones meet in the center of the vault. This vault is considered to be a part of the rib vault family.


Net Vault

Another variation of the rib vault is the net vault. The masonry ribs have a complex design that resembles a net.

Annular Vault

An annular vault uses the barrel vault as its base. Instead of a straight line, the barrel vault has a ring shape and springs out from two walls that are concentric.


Rampant Vault

A rampant vault is a continuous barrel vault where one side is higher than the other. Usually these are used to support or form the ceiling of a stairway.

Catalan Vault

The Catalan vault consists of plain bricks that form a low arch. It is also known as the Catalan turn, timbrel vault, or Catalan arch. It is widely used in Catalonia from which it derives its name.