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Types of Brick Masonry Arches

Types of Brick Masonry Arches

Types of Brick Masonry Arches

Types of Brick Masonry Arches

Brick masonry arches have been used in construction for centuries, and their timeless beauty and structural strength continue to make them a popular choice in modern architecture. These arches are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also serve a functional purpose by distributing weight and providing support to the structure. In this article, we will explore the different types of brick masonry arches, their characteristics, and their applications.

The Basics of Brick Masonry Arches

Before delving into the different types of brick masonry arches, it is important to understand the basic principles behind their construction. An arch is a curved structure that spans an opening, such as a doorway or a window, and transfers the weight of the structure above it to its supports on either side. This allows for larger openings and eliminates the need for additional support columns or walls.

Brick masonry arches are constructed using a series of wedge-shaped bricks, known as voussoirs, that are stacked on top of each other to form a curved shape. The center of the arch, known as the keystone, is the final piece to be placed and locks the arch into place. The weight of the arch is then transferred to the supports on either side, known as abutments, which are typically made of stone or concrete.

Segmental Arch

The segmental arch is the most common type of brick masonry arch and is characterized by its semi-circular shape. It is formed by stacking voussoirs in a curved shape, with each brick slightly overlapping the one below it. The segmental arch is known for its strength and stability, making it a popular choice for bridges, tunnels, and large openings in buildings.

One of the most famous examples of a segmental arch is the Pont du Gard in France, a Roman aqueduct bridge that was built in the 1st century AD. This arch spans over 160 feet and is made of over 50,000 tons of stone and concrete. It is a testament to the durability and longevity of the segmental arch design.

Gothic Arch

The Gothic arch, also known as the pointed arch, is a distinctive feature of Gothic architecture and is characterized by its pointed shape. It is formed by stacking voussoirs in a pointed shape, with the center being the highest point. The Gothic arch is known for its elegance and grandeur, making it a popular choice in cathedrals and other religious buildings.

One of the most famous examples of a Gothic arch is the Notre-Dame de Paris, a medieval Catholic cathedral in France. Its iconic rose window, which is made up of multiple Gothic arches, is a stunning example of the beauty and intricacy of this arch design.

Horseshoe Arch

The horseshoe arch, also known as the Moorish arch, is a distinctive feature of Islamic architecture and is characterized by its rounded shape. It is formed by stacking voussoirs in a semi-circular shape, with the center being slightly wider than the base. The horseshoe arch is known for its unique and exotic appearance, making it a popular choice in mosques and palaces.

The Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain is a prime example of the horseshoe arch. Built in the 8th century, it features over 850 horseshoe arches, creating a stunning visual effect that is synonymous with Islamic architecture.

Parabolic Arch

The parabolic arch, also known as the catenary arch, is a unique type of arch that is characterized by its curved shape. It is formed by stacking voussoirs in a parabolic curve, with the center being the highest point. The parabolic arch is known for its strength and stability, making it a popular choice in modern architecture.

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri is a famous example of a parabolic arch. Standing at 630 feet, it is the tallest arch in the world and is made of stainless steel. Its unique shape and design have made it an iconic landmark in the United States.

Corbel Arch

The corbel arch, also known as the false arch, is a simple type of arch that is formed by stacking bricks in a corbelled pattern. This means that each layer of bricks is slightly offset from the one below it, creating a triangular shape that resembles an arch. The corbel arch is known for its simplicity and is often used in small openings or as a decorative feature.

The ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru features several examples of corbel arches, which were used in the construction of its buildings and temples. These arches have withstood the test of time and are a testament to the durability of this arch design.

In Conclusion

Brick masonry arches are not only functional but also add a touch of elegance and beauty to any structure. From the strength and stability of the segmental arch to the grandeur of the Gothic arch, each type of arch has its own unique characteristics and applications. By understanding the different types of brick masonry arches, architects and builders can choose the most suitable design for their projects, ensuring both structural integrity and aesthetic appeal.

Whether it is a historic landmark or a modern skyscraper, brick masonry arches continue to be a timeless and versatile choice in construction. As technology and techniques continue to advance, we can only imagine the innovative and impressive arch designs that will be created in the future.

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