A rib vault or ribbed vault is an architectural feature for covering a wide space, such as a church nave, composed of a framework of crossed or diagonal arched ribs. Variations were used in Roman architecture, Byzantine architecture, Islamic architecture, Romanesque architecture, and especially Gothic architecture. Thin stone panels fill the space between the ribs. This greatly reduced the weight and thus the outward thrust of the vault. The ribs transmit the load downward and outward to specific points, usually rows of columns or piers. This feature allowed architects of Gothic cathedrals to make higher and thinner walls and much larger windows.
It is a type of arcuated, or arched, vault in which the severies, or panels in the bays of the vault's underside are separated from one another by ribs which conceal the groins, or the intersections of the panels.Rib vaults are, like groin vaults, formed from two or three intersecting barrel vaults; the ribs conceal the junction of the vaults.
The earliest surviving example in Islamic architecture is at the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba in al-Andalus, which predates the earliest Romanesque examples by a century.An alternative to barrel vaults in the naves of churches, rib vaults in 12th century early Gothic architecture began to be used in vaults made with pointed arches, already known in the Romanesque style. In these vaults, as in groin vaults, the weight was directed it to the corners, where piers, columns, or walls could support it. Walls in Gothic buildings were often abutted by flying buttresses. These elements made it possible to construct buildings with much higher and thinner walls than before, with immense bays, and larger stained glass windows filling the structure with light.
Cross vaults are constructed of thin arched ribs which diagonally crossed the area to be covered. The severies can be filled with small pieces of masonry, eliminating much of the massive weight of barrel vaults. These rib vaults could also more efficiently cover large rectangular areas. Thanks to the pointed arch employed in Gothic architecture, builders could raise or lower the arches so they would have the same height for a short span or a long span, something not possible with round arches. Pointed arches also made two intersecting vaults of the same height but different widths easier to construct.
The Romans used an early version of the rib vault to strengthen groin vaults. In these Roman vaults the brick ribs were embedded into the concrete of the vault. This was different from the later Gothic vaults, where the ribs were separate from the infilling of the panels, which gave the Gothic vaults flexibility and thus greater strength.The Romans also used these embedded ribs concealed within the structure to strengthen the concrete surface of domes, such as the Pantheon.
Rib vaults were not common in masonry buildings in Byzantine architecture, but four ribbed vaults were built by the Hosios Loukas monastery in Byzantine Greece after 1000 AD, and at the now ruined town Çanlı Kilise in Byzantine Cappadocia several groin vaults in medieval churches are equipped with ribs.A number of other rib vaults were built in Greece under the Frankokratia after the Fourth Crusade. Rib vaults were also known in Lombard, Armenian, Persian, and Islamic architecture.
In the Moorish architecture of Spain, Islamic architects used these ribbed vaults more visibly. One notable example is found in the Great Mosque of Córdoba, which was begun in the 9th century and extended between 922 and 965 by Al-Hakam II.The Chapel of Villaviciosa, as this part of the mosque became known when it was converted to a Roman Catholic church in the 13th century, has a dome which rests upon ribs and pendentives. At each vertex of the square is the intersection with another arch, such that each intersection is the junction of three arches. At each corner is a further miniature cross-vault dome. In the other domes of the 10th century reconstruction of the Great Mosque, the ribs intersect one another off-centre, forming an eight-pointed star in the centre which is topped by a pendentive dome.
The crossed-arch vaults of the mosque-cathedral of Córdoba served as models for later mosque buildings in the Islamic West, including al-Andalus and the Maghreb. At around 1000 AD, the Mezquita de Bab al Mardum (Mosque of Cristo de la Luz) in Toledo was constructed with a similar, eight-ribbed vault. [ citation needed ] The architectural form of the ribbed vault was further developed in the Maghreb: the central dome of the Great Mosque of Tlemcen, a work of the Almoravids built in 1082, has twelve slender ribs, the shell between the ribs is filled with filigree stucco work.The dome is supported both by the ribs and by pendentives that transmit its weight to the walls below. Similar vaults are also seen in the mosque building of the Aljafería of Zaragoza.
The rib vault was developed further in northern Europe in the 11th century, as builders sought a way to construct larger and larger stone vaults to replace the wooden roofs of Romanesque churches, which were frequently destroyed by fire. Romanesque cathedrals and churches usually used the barrel vault, with rounded arches, and the groin vault, used when two vaults met at a right angle to cover the nave. The weight of the vaults pressed down directly onto the walls below, requiring thicker walls and smaller windows.
Saint-Philibert de Tournus has exceptional Romanesque vaults, built between 1008 and 1050. The nave and chapel have parallel traverse tunnel vaults, while the aisles of both interiors are groin-vaulted.
Speyer Cathedral in Germany is the largest of all existing Romanesque churches in Europe, and has good examples of Romanesque barrel vaults and groin vaults in the nave. The groin vaults were built in 1060, and but had to be reinforced in 1090–1103 with a traverse arch between each arch.
The Kingdom of England and the Duchy of Normandy became centres of architectural innovation in the late 11th century. Even before the Norman conquest in 1066, King Edward the Confessor of England had introduced Romanesque features to Westminister Abbey (1055–65).William the Conqueror constructed the domes of the Abbey of Saint-Étienne, Caen with a kind of crossed rib vault, a star vault, in its central lantern. The Abbaye-aux-Dames also in Caen, was roofed with two large bays of stone groin vaults in the 1080s, one of the earliest uses in Europe of a groin vault to cover such a wide span.
Construction of the new church at Durham Cathedral began in 1093 under the direction of its Norman bishop, William de St-Calais.It was originally intended to build the cathedral entirely with rounded-arch groin vaults, but as work continued on the nave the Norman builders experimented with pointed arches, which directed the weight outward and downwards. The space between the ribs was filled with severies made of small pieces of stone. At its corners the weight was supported by colonettes which transferred it downwards to alternating columns and piers below rather than to the walls. Since the panels are relatively thin, these rib vaults are lighter than the earlier barrel and groin vaults so the walls could be higher and could have larger windows.
The work began at the east end of Durham Cathedral; the vaults over the aisles were complete in 1096, and over the choir by 1107.The nave vaults, with pointed arches, were begun in about 1130. Thanks to the pointed arches, the upper level of the clerestory seemed to merge into the roof in a unified whole. The Durham experiment, however, quickly ran into problems. The vault panels in the chancel were made of plastered rubble, and were heavier than expected, and began to crack, and had to be replaced in 1235. In the meanwhile, experimentation in pointed rib vaults moved to France, where thinner and lighter panels were made of small cut pieces of stone, rather than rubble.
The Romanesque Lessay Abbey in Normandy added early Gothic rib vaults in the choir in about 1098. which covered portions of the choir and nave.It was destroyed in World War II but rebuilt. . The dome of the Romanesque Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Cambridge in England, begun in 1130, has ribs in the dome, though the dome rests upon pendentives, and the ribs were largely decorative. The Romanesque Cefalù Cathedral in the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, begun in 1148–1240, has a Romanesque rib vault.
The transition from Romanesque to Gothic can also be seen in the nave of Fontenay Abbey church (1147), where the round arches of the barrel vaults have been replaced by vaults with slightly pointed arches.
Other variations of rib vaults, usually with rounded arches, appeared in Lombardy in the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, Milan, at the end of the 11th century, and in Southwest France at Moissac Abbey (11th-12th century).These were usually groin vaults, composed by joining two barrel vaults at right angles. Other types of vaults were decorative, such as the star vaults used to decorate the lantern tower on the roof of Caen Cathedral and Laon Cathedral, or the ribs on the interior of the dome of the Round Church in Cambridge (1130).
In sexpartite vaulting each bay was divided by thin stone ribs into six compartments. The intermediate ribs diagonally crossing the vault formed a pointed arch, and there was an additional intermediate pointed arch, which crossed from side to side. Since the ribs carried the weight, the panels of the vaults were made of small pieces of stone, snd were much lighter than traditional barrel vaults.The ribs transmitted the weight outwards and downwards through slender columns to the piers on the lower level. The weight of was not distributed equally; the additional weight of the diagonal traverse arches was supported by massive piers, while the intermediate crossing arch was supported by simple columns. Since the weight of the vaults was carried by the columns and piers, not the walls, the walls could be thinner and higher, and they could be filled with larger stained glass windows.
The sexpartite vault appeared almost simultaneously in England and France. The first cathedral to use sexpartite vaults was Durham Cathedral, begun in 1093. Durham was originally intended to be built with more traditional groin vaults. The vaults over the aisles were completed in 1096, those over the choir in 1107, these over the north transept and 1110. The traverse vaults of the nave, however, the arches over the south transept and nave, begun 1130, were given pointed arches. [ failed verification ]Early examples of sexpartite rib vaults are found at the Abbaye-aux-Hommes (begun 1066) and Abbaye-aux-Dames at Caen. It then appeared in Noyon Cathedral (begun 1131); the square Gothic porch of the Romanesque church of Vézelay Abbey in France (1132); Sens Cathedral (begun 1135); the choir of the Abbey of Saint-Denis (begun 1140); Notre-Dame de Paris (begun 1163); Bourges Cathedral; and Laon Cathedral. Ribbed vaults were built by William the Englishman at Canterbury Cathedral and in St Faith's Chapel in Westminster Abbey (1180).
A new variation of rib vault appeared during the High Gothic: the four-part rib vault, which was used in Chartres Cathedral, Amiens Cathedral and Reims Cathedral.The ribs of this vault distributed the weight more equally to the four supporting piers below, and established a closer connection between the nave and the lower portions of the church walls, and between the arcades below and the windows above. This allowed for greater height and thinner walls, and contributed to the strong impression of verticality given by the newer Cathedrals. The 11th century Durham Cathedral (1093–1135), with the earlier six-part rib vaults, is 73 feet (22 meters) high. The 12th-century nave of Notre-Dame de Paris, also with six-part rib vaults, is 115 feet, or 35 meters high. The later Amiens Cathedral (built 1220–1266), with the new four-part rib vaults, has a nave that is 138.8 feet (42.30 meters) high. The tallest nave of all the Gothic Cathedrals is Beauvais Cathedral, though only a single bay was completed. It is 47.5 m (156 ft) in height, slightly taller than the nave of St Peter's Basilica in Rome.
In the last period of Gothic architecture, Perpendicular Gothic, particularly in England at the beginning of the 14th century, a variety of new kinds of vaults. The nave of Exeter Cathedral, begun in 1310, has one example; the massive vault has a profusion of ribs like palm leaves, with as many as eleven ribs curving upward from a single springer.Another example was the vault of the nave of Wells Cathedral. The vault of the choir of Wells Cathedral (begun 1330) displayed a web of arches in octagonal forms, with squares in the centre. Wells also had an unusual set of strainer arches installed in the 1330s to support the new tower. It resembled an upside-down arch standing upon a normal arch. Another decorative vault was the star-shaped vault inserted in the octagon lantern of Ely Cathedral (1322–1342). This style was an element of the Perpendicular Gothic in England.
One type of decorative vault particular to England is the lierne. It features a tertiary rib, called a lierne, connecting one rib to another. The resulting construction is called a lierne vault or stellar vault (named after the star shape generated by connecting liernes).[ citation needed ] This type of rib vault appeared during the 14th century in the Decorated period.[ citation needed ] Examples are Gloucester Cathedral and the Church of Saint-Pierre, Caen.[ citation needed ]
The fan vault was a type of rib vault particular to England.[ citation needed ] The ribs are all of the same curve and spaced equidistantly, in a manner resembling a fan. The ceiling of King's College Chapel, Cambridge, has the world's largest fan-vaulted ceiling.[ citation needed ]
The development of the rib vault was the result of the search for greater height and more light in the naves of cathedrals. In Romanesque cathedrals, the nave was typically covered by a series of groin vaults, which were formed by the intersection of two barrel vaults. The vaults pressed down directly onto the walls. The groin vaults were bombée, or roughly dome-shaped. To support the weight of the vaults, the walls had to be particularly thick, and windows were absent or very small. This problem was resolved in the early 11th century by the introduction of the Gothic rib vault.
Rib vaults are reinforced by a network of thin stone ribs (French: ogives). In the first six-part vaults, the vault was supported by two diagonal crossing ribs, plus an intermediate rib, which together divided the vault into six sections. The diagonal ribs were in the form of semicircular arches, which raised the centre of the vault above the level of the transverse arches and wall ribs, and gave it the appearance of a small dome. (This kind of vault can be seen in the nave of Sant' Ambrogio, Milan). In some new churches, the architects dealt with the problem by raising the upper part of their arches was raised. This was tried in some of the earliest Gothic churches, notably the Abbaye-aux-Hommes and the Abbey of Lessay in Normandy.
The problem was ultimately solved by the introduction of the pointed arch for the transverse and dividing ribs of the vault. The pointed arch had long been known and employed, on account of its much greater strength and of the lessened thrust it exerted on the walls. When employed for the ribs of a vault, however narrow or wide the span might be, by adopting a pointed arch, its summit could be made to match the height of the diagonal ribs.The ribs carried the weight of the vault outwards and downwards. The ribs were bundled into columns, each combining four ribs, which descended the walls to the arcades on piers on the ground floor. Outside, the walls were given greater strength by the addition of heavy stone buttresses. The strength of rib vaults made it possible to have thinner walls, which in turn made it possible to have larger windows on the upper levels, filling the nave with light. They eventual made possible the enormous rose windows of Gothic cathedrals.
This six-part vault was successfully introduced in Noyon Cathedral, Laon Cathedral, and Notre-Dame de Paris. A single six-part vault could cover two traverse sections of the nave of Notre-Dame. However, the six-rib vault had its problems. The weight was not distributed evenly to the columns on the ground floor. When a vault covered two traverses, more massive piers were needed to bear the weight from the doubleaux, the diagonal ribs, than for the intermediate ribs. This problem was solved by simplifying the vault and eliminating the intermediate rib, making a four-part or quadripartite rib vault. Under this system, which was promptly used at Amiens Cathedral, Reims Cathedral and many others, each traverse section had just one four-part vault. This innovation, along with the use of the flying buttress, saw Gothic cathedral walls go higher and higher, with larger and larger windows.
The simplification of the rib vault was soon followed, particularly in England, by another tendency, to make them more complicated. One of the earliest examples of the introduction of the intermediate ridge rib is found in the nave of Lincoln Cathedral; This element, called a ridge rib, was not connected to the walls. Architects in England began adding new ribs, largely for decoration. In the nave of Exeter Cathedral three intermediate ribs were provided between the wall rib and the diagonal rib. In order to mask the junction of the various ribs, their intersections were ornamented with richly carved bosses, and this practice increased on the introduction of another short rib, known as lierne vaulting. The lierne, a term in France given to the ridge rib, in English refers to short ribs that cross between the main ones; these were employed chiefly as decorative features, for example in stellar vaults, one of the best examples of which is in the vault of the oriel window of Crosby Hall, London. Ribs came more and more numerous and more and more decorative leading to the extraordinarily elaborate and decorative fan vault, first used in the choir of Gloucester Cathedral.
The first step in the construction of a vault was a wooden scaffold up to the level of the top of the supporting columns. Next, a precise wooden frame was constructed on top of the scaffold in the exact shape of the ribs (French: nervures). The stone segments of the ribs were then carefully laid into the frame and cemented. When the ribs were all in the place, the keystone was placed at the apex where they converged. Once the keystone was in place, the ribs could stand alone, supported by their weight pressing downwards and outwards. Workers then filled in the compartments between the ribs with small fitted pieces of brick or stone. The framework was removed. The masonry of the compartments was about 15 cm thick. Once the compartments were finished, their interior surface was plastered and then painted.
The construction of a medieval rib vault was a complex operation involving a team of specialized workers. The masons included hewers (French: taileurs), who cut the stone; poseurs, who set the stones in place; and layers (morteliers), who cemented the pieces together. These craftsmen worked alongside carpenters who built the complex scaffolds and models.
Form of constructing roofs in Romanesque and Gothic architecture whereby two or three barrel vaults intersect, with the edges producing a series of thin pointed ribs, usually of stone and highly decorated.
with ribs framing the webs and concealing the groins
Any vault with an under-surface subdivided by ribs framing the severies or webs.
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 11th century, this later date being the most commonly held. In the 12th century it developed into the Gothic style, marked by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, making it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman architecture. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
Gothic architecture is an architectural style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. It originated in 12th-century northern France and England as a development of Norman architecture. Its popularity lasted into the 16th century, before which the style was known as Latin: opus Francigenum, lit. 'French work'; the term Gothic was first applied during the later Renaissance.
Medieval architecture is architecture common in the Middle Ages, and includes religious, civil, and military buildings. Styles include pre-Romanesque, Romanesque, and Gothic. While most of the surviving medieval architecture is to be seen in churches and castles, examples of civic and domestic architecture can be found throughout Europe, in manor houses, town halls, almshouses, bridges, and residential houses.
A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve along a given distance. The curves are typically circular in shape, lending a semi-cylindrical appearance to the total design. The barrel vault is the simplest form of a vault: effectively a series of arches placed side by side. It is a form of barrel roof.
A groin vault or groined vault is produced by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults. The word "groin" refers to the edge between the intersecting vaults. Sometimes the arches of groin vaults are pointed instead of round. In comparison with a barrel vault, a groin vault provides good economies of material and labour. The thrust is concentrated along the groins or arrises, so the vault need only be abutted at its four corners.
In Gothic architecture, a lierne is a tertiary rib connecting one rib to another, as opposed to connecting to a springer, or to the central boss. The resulting construction is called a lierne vault or stellar vault. The term lierne comes from the French lier.
In architecture, a vault is a self-supporting arched form, usually of stone or brick, serving to cover a space with a ceiling or roof. The simplest kind of vault is the barrel vault, which is generally semicircular in shape. The barrel vault is a continuous arch, the length being greater than its diameter. As in building an arch, a temporary support is needed while rings of voussoirs are constructed and the rings placed in position. Until the topmost voussoir, the keystone, is positioned, the vault is not self-supporting. Where timber is easily obtained, this temporary support is provided by centering consisting of a framed truss with a semicircular or segmental head, which supports the voussoirs until the ring of the whole arch is completed. With a barrel vault, the centering can then be shifted on to support the next rings.
French architecture ranks high among France's many accomplishments. Indications of the special importance of architecture in France were the founding of the Academy of Architecture in 1671, the first such institution anywhere in Europe, and the establishment in 1720 of the Prix de Rome in architecture, a competition of national interest, funded by the state, and an honor intensely pursued. If the first period of France's preeminent achievement was the Gothic, and the second, the eighteenth century, the longer tradition of French architecture has always been an esteemed one.
English Gothic is an architectural style which flourished in England from about 1180 until about 1520. The style was most prominently used in the construction of cathedrals and churches. Its defining features are pointed arches, rib vaults, buttresses, and an extensive use of stained glass. Combined, these features allowed the creation of buildings of unprecedented height and grandeur, filled with light from large stained glass windows. Important examples include Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral. The English Gothic style endured in England until the early sixteenth century – much longer than in Continental Europe. It was succeeded by Tudor architecture and Renaissance architecture.
Gothic architecture appeared in Italy in the 12th century. The bold architectural solutions and technical innovations of the French Gothic cathedrals never appeared: Italian architects preferred to keep the construction tradition established in the previous centuries. Aesthetically, in Italy the vertical development was rarely important.
French Gothic architecture is an architectural style which emerged in France in 1140, and was dominant until the mid-16th century. The most notable examples are the great Gothic cathedrals of France, including Notre-Dame Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral, and Amiens Cathedral. Its main characteristics were the search for verticality, or height, and the innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttresses and other architectural innovations to distribute the weight of the stone structures to supports on the outside, allowing unprecedented height and volume, The new techniques also permitted the addition of larger windows, including enormous stained glass windows, which filled the cathedrals with light. The French style was widely copied in other parts of northern Europe, particularly Germany and England. It was gradually supplanted as the dominant French style in the mid-16th century by French Renaissance architecture.
Early Gothic is the style of architecture that appeared in northern France, Normandy and England between about 1130 and the mid-13th century. It combined and developed several key elements from earlier styles, particularly from Romanesque architecture, including the rib vault, flying buttress, and the pointed arch, and used them in innovative ways to create structures, particularly Gothic cathedrals and churches, of exceptional height and grandeur, filled with light from stained glass windows. Notable examples of early Gothic architecture in France include the ambulatory and facade of Saint-Denis Basilica; Sens Cathedral (1140); Laon Cathedral; Senlis Cathedral; (1160) and most famously Notre-Dame de Paris.
Pendant vaulting is considered to be a type of English fan vaulting. The pendant vault is a rare form of vault, attributed to fifteenth century English Gothic architecture, in which large decorative pendants hang from the vault at a distance from the walls. In some cases, the pendants are a large form of boss. In his book on fan vaults, Walter Leedy defines the fan vault stating: “Fan vaults have the following specific interrelated visual and structural characteristics: (1) vaulting conoids of regular geometric form, (2) vertical ribs, each of consistent curvature and placement, (3) a distinct central spandrel panel, (4) ribs perpendicular to the vaulting surface, and (5) applied surface patterning.”
The early domes of the Middle Ages, particularly in those areas recently under Byzantine control, were an extension of earlier Roman architecture. The domed church architecture of Italy from the sixth to the eighth centuries followed that of the Byzantine provinces and, although this influence diminishes under Charlemagne, it continued on in Venice, Southern Italy, and Sicily. Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel is a notable exception, being influenced by Byzantine models from Ravenna and Constantinople. The Dome of the Rock, an Umayyad Muslim religious shrine built in Jerusalem, was designed similarly to nearby Byzantine martyria and Christian churches. Domes were also built as part of Muslim palaces, throne halls, pavilions, and baths, and blended elements of both Byzantine and Persian architecture, using both pendentives and squinches. The origin of the crossed-arch dome type is debated, but the earliest known example is from the tenth century at the Great Mosque of Córdoba. In Egypt, a "keel" shaped dome profile was characteristic of Fatimid architecture. The use of squinches became widespread in the Islamic world by the tenth and eleventh centuries. Bulbous domes were used to cover large buildings in Syria after the eleventh century, following an architectural revival there, and the present shape of the Dome of the Rock's dome likely dates from this time.
The Romanesque style of architecture was introduced in Portugal between the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century. In general, Portuguese cathedrals have a heavy, fortress-like appearance, with crenellations and few decorative elements apart from portals and windows. Portuguese Romanesque cathedrals were later extensively modified, among others the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, although it only had some minor changes.
Romanesque architecture appeared in France at the end of the 10th century, with the development of feudal society and the rise and spread of monastic orders, particularly the Dominicans, which built many important abbeys and monasteries in the style. It continued to dominate religious architecture until the appearance of French Gothic architecture in the Ile-de-France between about 1140-1150.
The pointed arch is an arch with a pointed crown, whose two curving sides meet at a relatively sharp angle at the top of the arch. This architectural element was particularly important in Gothic architecture. It first appeared in Indian architecture and Islamic architecture as a way of making more decorative windows and doorways, but in the 12th century it began to be used in France and England as an important structural element, in combination with other elements, such as the rib vault and later the flying buttress. These allowed the construction of cathedrals, palaces and other buildings with dramatically greater height and larger windows which filled them with light.
Gothic cathedrals and churches are religious buildings created in Europe between the mid-12th century and the beginning of the 16th century. The cathedrals are notable particularly for their great height, and their extensive use of stained glass to fill the interiors with light. They were the tallest and largest buildings of their time, and the most prominent examples of Gothic architecture. The appearance of the Gothic Cathedral was not only a revolution in architecture; it also introduced new forms in decoration, sculpture, and art.