What Is A Barrel Vault Ceiling? Disadvantages Of A Barrel Vault?

What Is A Barrel Vault Ceiling? Disadvantages Of A Barrel Vault?

What Is A Barrel Vault Ceiling?

Barrel vault ceilings, also known as tunnel vaults or wagon vaults, are a type of vaulted ceiling that have a continuous curve from wall to wall or floor to floor. They are commonly found in historical architecture in churches and cathedrals, as well as in barns and industrial buildings.

They provide a unique design feature that maximizes light and ventilation. While not as common as traditional peak apex vaulted ceilings, their curved design makes them a desirable element in home design.

With homeowners becoming more adventurous in their home extensions and self-builds, barrel vault ceilings are becoming more popular as an alternative to traditional designs.

Barrel vaults, a type of architectural design featuring a curved roof, have a long history dating back to ancient cultures such as Iran (Elam), the Indus Valley civilization, and Egypt.

They were commonly used in Roman architecture, including in the construction of underground sewers. The use of barrel vaults can also be found in northern Europe, Turkey, Morocco, and other regions.

During the medieval period in Europe, barrel vaults were a popular choice for building monasteries, castles, tower houses, and other structures. They were often used in cellars, crypts, hallways, cloisters, and great halls.

History Of Barrel Vault Ceiling

Barrel vaulting was used by early civilizations such as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia but it was not commonly used. The Persians and Romans were the first to extensively use barrel vaulting in their architecture, likely due to a scarcity of timber and wood in their regions.

The technique probably evolved from the need to roof buildings with masonry elements. The earliest known example of a vault is from around 4000 BC in Babylonia, and the earliest examples in Egypt date back to 3500 BC.

In these early instances, barrel vaults were mainly used for underground structures, but they were also used in some buildings such as the Ramesseum in Egypt. Recent archaeological evidence has also shown that the technique was known and used in ancient Greece and in the Indus Valley Civilization.

The Romans inherited their knowledge of barrel vaulting from the Etruscans and the Near East, and they were the first to use scaffolding to construct vaults spanning wider widths.

However, the Romans eventually began to prefer the use of groin vaults, which allowed for more spacious and well-lit buildings.

After the fall of the Roman empire, barrel vaulting was mostly used in the construction of Romanesque and Renaissance churches and buildings, such as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. With the advent of the Gothic style barrel vaulting became less common and was replaced by more ornate and complex vaults.

How Do You Build A Vaulted Barrel Ceiling?

Barrel vault ceilings can now be constructed using modern methods such as glulam timber portal frames or curved trusses. In the past, they were typically made of brick or stone and found in the groin vault style which is a type of barrel vault with intersecting arches.

What Is The Benefit Of A Barrel Vault?

Barrel vault ceilings not only offer an attractive architectural design but also improve the distribution of natural light, resulting in a spacious and bright atmosphere. Additionally, the end of a barrel vault can be designed with glass to enhance views.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Barrel Vault?

Barrel vault ceilings, while attractive, can be costly to construct due to their unique design and the materials and labor required.

These types of ceilings place a lot of pressure on the walls, so additional support may be needed. Using kits to create the illusion of a barrel vault using plasterboard can help alleviate this issue.

Additionally, if a barrel ceiling extends from floor to floor, finding appropriate windows can be challenging and custom glazing may be necessary.

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