I would like to know what methods are usually used to strengthen existing masonry vaults and domes, especially the ones called Catalan Vaults, and how to design them.

Thank you in advance.

  • $\begingroup$ What have you found already? $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Jan 7 '18 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I am looking for the methods that are usually used. I don't know any of them. $\endgroup$ – Mohamed Jan 7 '18 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ Result of a simple search for “catalan vault” is : en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_vault $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Jan 7 '18 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ Try googling "masonry arch strengthening" for some ideas. $\endgroup$ – AndyT Feb 8 '18 at 9:53

The design and construction of Vaults are mostly done by the experienced masons for these reasons!

  • Inconsistency in the specifications of bricks, sand, lime, gypsum and even the water.

  • The adhesive strength of the mortar they use and the time it takes for initial setting and final hardening.

  • The permeability of the bricks and weight change when they are wet.

  • The arc of the vault has the optimal camber to meet all these conditions and hold itself during the time the mason lays them and cure into a strong structure. And its pattern of joints is meant to provide maximum ease during construction by dividing the wide spans into smaller ones and also later offer more strength to resist gravity and lateral loads.

Many masons by experience know what pattern and which mixture to use depending on the climate and location of the job-site. That's is the reason for finding typical patterns and graceful architectural themes spreading through a geographical area. and then changing gradually from one city to another one.

If you ask some of the masons currently working on the same area and compare there methods to other parts you can glean information that you need.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am sorry, my question wasn't clear enough. What I am looking for are state-of-the-art methods to strengthen existing vaults $\endgroup$ – Mohamed Jan 7 '18 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ Why is there need for extra strength, is the existing structure defective or it has been damaged? Then the cause of failure or source of damage should be examined and a structural engineer with experience working with the particulars can design a repair or reinforcement approach with consideration to preserving architectural and historical features of the building. There are engineering courses taylored to this field. $\endgroup$ – kamran Jan 7 '18 at 21:42

Your question is too broad, we might come up weigh an answer for a specific scenario but would need to know the specific weaknesses and design for that instance.

The only general answer I can give is too add strength to the weak areas. This can be determined by modeling the system in a computer and using finite element analysis. A civil engineer has tools and the experience to examine and design strengthening measures.

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  • $\begingroup$ When the question is "How do I strengthen arches?", then "Strengthen the weak areas" is a poor answer. How are the weak areas strengthened? $\endgroup$ – AndyT Feb 8 '18 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ It's not a poor answer, just misunderstood. I accept that you may not understand the fundamentals of a vault or dome that is inherently self supported. The weight of the material is what holds it together and damaged areas will be obvious. The repair method is to temporarily support the structure and replace the damaged sections. Bracing or adding 'sister' arches can also reinforce damages. $\endgroup$ – Gwydionforge Feb 10 '18 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, it is a poor answer. Yes, I do understand how a vault/dome/arch works, I'm a Chartered Civil Engineer. Your comment about repairing damaged areas is a red herring - the OP hasn't asked about repair, they've asked about strengthening - the arch may require strengthening as damage has reduced its capacity, or it may be that the OP wants to add more load than it was originally designed for. Your comment about "bracing or adding 'sister' arches" is the start of an actual answer - why not edit it in? $\endgroup$ – AndyT Feb 12 '18 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ Red herring? You write like a troll arguing semantics with a pedantic fervor. At least I tried to help the questioner instead of flouting my credentials and criticizing others. $\endgroup$ – Gwydionforge Feb 13 '18 at 17:09

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