The construction of sexpartite vaults in Europe

Maira Vidal, Rocío (2015). The construction of sexpartite vaults in Europe. In: "Fifth International Congress on Construction History", 3-7 June 2015, Chicago. pp. 533-540.


Title: The construction of sexpartite vaults in Europe
  • Maira Vidal, Rocío
Item Type: Presentation at Congress or Conference (Article)
Event Title: Fifth International Congress on Construction History
Event Dates: 3-7 June 2015
Event Location: Chicago
Title of Book: 5ICCH Proceedings
Date: 2015
Volume: 2
Faculty: E.T.S. Arquitectura (UPM)
Department: Otro
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Sexpartite vaults constitute one of the most interesting chapters in European Gothic architecture. Originally, the use of the square cross-ribbed vault was limited to relatively small spaces, but when the need arose to cover spaces of considerable size, a new vault with very peculiar characteristics appeared. This new vault was a cross-ribbed vault that was reinforced in the centre by a rib that was parallel to the transverse ribs which effectively divided the vault in half. This configuration breaks the side arch into two fragments, creating a pair of windows on each side. The volumetrics of these vaults is extremely complex and the difficulties involved in their construction perhaps explain why they were abandoned in favour of the simple cross ribbed vault, now with rectangular sections. The existence of the sexpartite vault barely lasted more than fifty years, from the end of the XII century and the beginning of the XIII. Towards the end of the 19th century Viollet-le-Duc gave a succinct explanation of this type of vault. A. Choisy also, later, devotes some pages to the French sexpartite vault; since then, the subject has only been broached in a few references in later studies on Gothic architecture. However, despite its short period of existence, the sexpartite vault spread throughout Europe and was used to build important vaulting. Viollet-le-Duc's sexpartite vault could be considered to be the prototype of them all, while it is true that the studies that we have conducted so far lead us to affirm that there is a wide variety of vaults, with different volumetric spaces and different construction strategies. Therefore, we believe that this chapter of international Gothic deserves further study applying the knowledge and resources that are available today. This paper has been written to explore the most significant European sexpartite vaults. New measurement technology has led to a revolution in research into the history of construction, allowing studies to be conducted that were hitherto impossible. Thorough data collection using total station and photogrammetry has enabled us to identify the stereotomy of the voussoirs, tas-de-charges and keystones, as well as the bonding of the surfaces of the severies. A comparison of the construction techniques employed in the different vaults studied reveals common construction features and aspects that are specific to each country. Thus we are able to establish the relationship between sexpartite vaults in different European countries and their influence on each other.

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Item ID: 37906
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Deposited by: Memoria Investigacion
Deposited on: 06 Oct 2015 12:26
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2020 10:04
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