1. Abstract
Objectives and aim
This paper contains a study of the importance of arches in structures and the analysis and
application of arches in the field of structural engineering. The paper also reports on the
history and development of arches.
Materials and methods
There are many materials that are used in the construction of arches. Choosing which
materials to use depends mostly on the client and the architect. The engineer, chooses the
method of design and sometimes recommend the construction method. Many design- and
construction methods have been studied and developed but none are perfect and flawless.
Choosing and applying a method correctly is the difference between success and failure.
Arches are structurally strong and make long spanning structures such as bridges or dam
walls structurally strong and stable. They are some of the most favoured features in ancient
buildings such as cathedrals and also small bridges. They can be constructed from almost
any material. The analysis and design process of arches is made easy with modern design
technology but still requires accurate data interpretation by the engineer.
Conclusion / recommendations
Arches are strong structural components that are particularly strong in compression. Even
though they are recommended for providing simple solutions for long-spanning
requirements, they are not well represented in study literature of educational institutions.

1.2 Background to the study

Spring Line: A horizontal line which intersects the springing. Span: The horizontal clear dimension between abutments. Voussoir: One masonry unit of an arch. Soffit: The surface of an arch or vault at the intrados. In symmetrical arches. Intrados: The curve which bounds the lower edge of the arch. some basic arch terms need to be known: (refer to Figure 1 below) Extrados: The curve which bounds the upper edge of the arch. Before one can understand the concept of arches. . why are they used. Rise: The maximum height of the arch soffit above the level of its spring line. The distinction between soffit and intrados is that the intrados is a line. Springing: The point where the skewback intersects the intrados. the crown is at the midspan.This study done on arches consists of information to give an understanding of what arches are. Crown: The apex of the arch's extrados. Springer: The first voussoir from a skewback. while the soffit is a surface. how the design process works and why they are important.

at all sections. Another characteristic of arch action is that each section is subjected to a direct thrust.Fig. It is therefore difficult to find relevant information regarding the study. 1. 1 Basic terminology of a masonry arch The main characteristics of arches that are commonly known through the construction field are that horizontal thrust is present at the supports. but statistics show that an average of only 2% of the texts in text books and notes are dedicated to arches.3 Research problems Arches are neglected by the civil engineering curricula of most universities and institutions. The horizontal force thrusts toward the arch and produces compression stresses at all sections of the arch. the static Bending Moments of the load are considerably reduced by the Bending Moment due to horizontal thrust. a course that is obligatory in all civil engineering programs. . The horizontal force is induced there because of un-yielding supports that prevent the curved beams from straightening under vertical loads. Arch structures and the analysis thereof are challenges that will come across any engineer’s path and should be taught in Structural Analysis. Many resources’ information is more or less the same or the documents are not rich in information. And also.

door openings. There are many naturally formed arches and are typically formed in places with erosion. Small or big. etc. This aesthetic preference from door frames to bridges becomes a challenge to structural engineers with respect to the dimensional design aspect. They are commonly present in concrete as well as in steel bridges. easy to interpret and easy to process into a short and understandable report. But these are just examples of small arches. The different materials provide different advantages and also create challenges regarding the construction process. arches are still a very efficient element of design in the structural engineering field. in arch dams. Arches also inspired and evolved construction for mankind. easy understandable. The aim is to gather key information for the study. and in industrial and commercial buildings. Many arches used today are non-structural and are built purely for aesthetics. The curvature of arches combines the advantages of bending and compression.1. They still exist after thousands of years and examples thereof are found in aqueducts.5 Scope of study Arches are preferred by architects to add beauty and elegance to the aesthetics of buildings. The advantages of these mechanisms combined contribute to resist external loads normal to the middle line of the arch. the design process and the challenges it beholds are quite the same right through. .4 Aim and objective of study This study was done to give the reader a background summary of structural arches. Arches can be built with materials that cannot withstand tension because they can resist normal forces by developing only compression. buildings and bridges over narrow rivers. bridges. Today. It became customary to add arches for the openings not only outside the building but also inside above e. cathedrals. Arches are effectively used in dome-shaped buildings. The information has to be relevant. Some of the most famous arch designs are found in famous Cathedrals and Castles. They played a dominant role as construction elements in the Roman Empire.g. 1. The objective is to give the reader an informative quick understanding of arches with focus on the materials available for construction of arches.

Masonry is one of the oldest materials used for constructing arches. A brick masonry arch found in the ruins of Ur in Mesopotamia dates back to 1400 B. brick arches are used in construction to span over wall openings and for adding aesthetics to the appearance. 3. will the arch be required to transfer vertical loads to abutments or will it be fully supported by a steel angle.1 Proof of establishment 3.1.0 MATERIALS AND METHODS 3. they have limitations. reinforced concrete. If either of the arch or the abutment is deficient.1 Materials: Arches can be constructed with various materials like masonry. The horizontal forces acting upon an arch can be high. Another option is to use reinforcement to increase the strength of either or both the . That is. In the modern era of today. timber. the arch must be considered as non-structural. one must consider whether the arch is structural or nonstructural. structural steel.6 Limitations of study Although arches provide a solution for long spanning requirements. There are two structural requirements necessary for a brick arch to carry vertical loads sufficiently. and therefore. care must be taken in the design process to prevent failure at the connection between the arch and the support. etc.1. Thus.1 Brick Arch When designing a brick arch. The first is that the arch must be able to carry vertical loads and transfer them to the abutments. The second is that the abutments have to resist the vertical load and lateral thrust from the arch.0 LITERATURE REVIEW 2.C. More commonly used are reinforced concrete and structural steel for arches in long spanning bridges. 2. both the arch and its tributary load must be fully supported by a sufficient steel angle or specifically designed plates.

or an ellipse. parabola. If compressive stresses are too large. the longest arch bridge in the world. Three failure modes are common of an unreinforced arch. Compression failure is a common occurrence.1. tension can be reduced. By increasing the depth or the rise of the arch. Rotation starts to occur when tension develops in the arch. The shape of the member can be circular. tensile forces can be resisted by adding reinforcing steel. sliding of the arch at the skewback. and which construction method suites the area best economically. because the effect of rib shortening and because the change of temperature can be especially large. To avoid sliding at the skewback. the arch must be redesigned with a shorter span or a greater arch depth. it can be designed in such a way that the member will have no tension but only compression forces. And since then. They are rotation of the arch about the abutment. spans 420m. .2 Reinforced Concrete Arches Centuries ago. Since the discovery of concrete and the reinforcing thereof. The engineer should design the concrete arch while keeping in mind which resources are available. was built more than 100 years ago. 3. Reinforcement on the other hand is specifically necessary for flat arches. They established that by inverting the Bending Moment diagram of the arch. Concrete for arches can be cast monolithically or pre-cast. Present-day experts have determined that those arches are the invert of their Bending Moment diagrams wherein there is no tension in the member. and if tension does develop in the arch. The first concrete arch bridge that spanned more than 100m. Sliding of the arch will depend on the angle of skewback relative to the horizontal axis and the vertical load acting upon the arch. This will also prevent shear at the skewback. and crushing of the masonry. Crushing is the result of the compressive strength of the masonry not being able to withstand the compressive stresses in the arch. Concrete have a very high compression strength which makes it a good material for arches because arches essentially work in compression. Wanxian Yangtze River Bridge in China. Construction methods for reinforced concrete arches can be very expensive. the span of bridges increased greatly.arch and the abutments. small bridge arches were constructed with masonry because at that time neither concrete nor reinforcement was invented. reinforcement can be added. But it is important that plain concrete arches should never be used unless they are built directly on solid rock foundation. Concrete arches may also be built either with plain concrete or with reinforced concrete.

3. If data input is not meaningful and accurate. When some data is unavailable. No matter which method the engineer chooses. Many computer programs are based on the stiffness matrix method.2 Methods Many techniques have been developed over the years which allow treatment of very largescale plastic arch-truss layout optimization problems incorporating multiple load cases. the design engineer may supplement these data by referring to similar projects with similar conditions. the mechanics of the arch is sometimes favourable. 3. When designing steel arches. self weight and practical nodal stability constraints to investigate the effectiveness of these in practice. To achieve this. The data should be collected from field tests and laboratory tests. Production is also efficient because standard sections can be rolled to the correct size before construction. the objective is sometimes to construct large spans with relative low self-weight. For situations where the data are incomplete. When the main reaction force is compressive. the arch is seen as an assemblage of small elements that are interconnected at a finite number of joints. Designing is also made easier due to advanced computer based design tools. the main concerns in the design process is governed by the stability phenomena like plate-. they may produce useless and even absurd results. the accuracy of the results also increases. Therefore emphasis should be placed on stability of the structure. Even though this is still a lengthy process. estimations may be made by using conservative engineering judgment.1. A local stiffness matrix is obtained . it should be much more time-saving because curing time of concrete is limited to the foundations.3 Steel arches Steel arches are popular because it presents much appreciated aesthetics of curves elements in contemporary architecture.and lateral-torsion buckling. According to this method. they can be complicated and mistakes can easily be made. The moment of inertia of each element is assumed as constant. This intuitive judgement may lead to overly conservative designs which could lead to very expensive and uneconomical designs. he/she has to ensure that the correct data is gathered and the input thereof is correct and absolutely accurate as possible because even though some modern methods of analysis are powerful. As the number of joints increases. overall-. local.

Loading of arches are the same as other beams. Superimposed uniform loads above this triangle may be carried out by the arching action of the masonry wall itself. Uniform. the height will be half of the span. This indicates that a compressive normal force still acts along the centre line of the arch though with decreasing values. The sides of this assumed triangle should be taken as 45-degree angles relative to the base. The internal normal force. They can be constructed from almost all construction type materials. roofs.for each small element and put together to obtain an overall structural stiffness matrix of the complete arch. Arches can be analysed as a straight . When arches are assumed to be hinged at both ends. Even though the bending moment’s sign is reversed through an inflection point of zero value. 4. The dead load of say a brick wall above an arch may be assumed to be the weight of the wall contained within a triangle immediately above the opening. Smaller arches should not have heavy concentrated loads acting upon them. This means that the positive and negative values of bending moments will correspond to the tensile stresses at the top and bottom fibres of the arch.0 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION Arches provide an obvious solution for long spanning requirements. as the top of the arch is approached. Triangular loads like this may be assumed to be the same as a uniformly distributed load of 1/3 times the triangular load. live and dead loads that occur below the triangle’s apex are applied directly on the arch for design purposes. the normal force diagram’s sign remains as usual. shear force and bending moment for each element is calculated from the displacement and the local element stiffness. the solution of the equilibrium equations will result in 3 displacement components at each joint. The bending moment values are then plotted on the tension side of the arch. This is referred to as the global axis. The loads may be live loads or dead loads from floors. walls and other structural elements. but they are interpreted differently. Therefore. The overall structural stiffness matrix of the whole arch is then modified for the displacement boundary conditions. The live loads are applied as point loads or as uniform loads fully or partially distributed.

03 June 2005.beam. but should still be ACKNOWELEDGEMENT 6th World Congresses of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization Rio de Janeiro. by the . Many computer design programs are available that can break the arch up into small elements that are analysed separately. resulting in better 6. Even though the design process is made easy with modern technology.tue.pdf http://www.pdf http://themasonryarch.pdf http://www.pdf http://www.arch-bridges. especially when long spans are required. 30 May . The material used must correspond with the architect’s vision.0 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS Arches are a magnificent characteristic of some of the oldest buildings that are still standing today.deldot. according to design codes and standards. This is already proof that arches are a very strong construction option for most structural support beams.virginiadot. Brazil Internet references: http://alexandria. the engineer still bears the risk of inaccurate interpretation and use of data.

0 APPENDIX Photo The Kashirajima Bridge .7.