Design and analysis of cross vaults along history


Gaetani, Angelo; Monti, Giorgio; Lourenço, Paulo B.; Marcari, Giancarlo

cross vault; historical development; limit analysis; practical sizing rules; vaulted structures

The history of cross vaults began almost 2,000 years ago with a widespread use during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, becoming nowadays one of the most diffused and fascinating structural typologies of the European building cultural heritage. However, conversely to the undeniable excellence achieved by the ancient masons, the structural behavior of these elements is still at the center of the scientific debate. In this regard, with the aim of reviewing the knowledge on this subject as a concise and valuable support for researchers involved in conservation of historical buildings, with a focus on design rules and structural analysis, the present study firstly introduces the cross vaults from a historical perspective, by describing the evolution of the main geometrical shapes together with basic practical rules used to size them. Then, the article deals with the subsequent advancements in structural analysis methods of vaults, until the development of modern limit analysis.