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Arch and vault structures

and vault
Prof Schierle

Arch and vault structures


Funicular vs. load

Load type
Single point load



Two point loads



Uniform load



Mixed load

Gothic curve


Self weight



Radial load


Prof Schierle

Load and form


Polar polygon of parabolic cable

Parabolic funicular cable under uniform load

Polar polygon of parabolic funicular arch

Parabolic funicular arch under uniform load

Polar polygon of asymmetrically loaded cable

Funicular cable under asymmetric load

Polar polygon of asymmetrically loaded arch

Arch funicular under asymmetric load

Global moment of horizontal couple M = H d

10 Arch bending due to funicular offset

F = arch force
e = arch offset from funicular line
11 Variable arch depth (optimal span/depth = 5)
12 Arch force vs. arch depth (rise)

Arch and vault structures


Prof Schierle

Arch hinges

Fixed-end arch

Fixed-end arch bend under temperature change

Fixed-end arch footing subject to overturn moment

Fixed-end arch bend under uneven settlements

Two-hinge arch

Two-hinge arch, bend under temperature variation

Two-hinge arch footing without overturn moment

Two-hinge arch, bend under uneven settlements

Three-hinge arch

10 Three-hinge arch, free to move under temperature

change without secondary bending stress
11 Three-hinge arch foundation, with vertical and
horizontal loads
12 Three-hinge arch, free to move under uneven
settlement without secondary bending stress
Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle

Exhibit hall Klagenfurt, Austria (1966)

Architect: O Loider
Engineer: Timber construction contractor
The 96x75m hall 3-hinge wood arches span 96 m
Arches of twin I-beam cross-sections, spaced 6.8 m,
are crescent-shaped to fit the funicular pressure line
for various loads to minimize bending stress.

Arch and vault structures


Wind racing detail

Arch crescent profile

Arch cross-section

Glue-lam twin arches, 2-16x100 to 187 cm

Arch flanges, 16x41cm glue-lam

Roof purlins, 8x22cm solid wood

L-shaped purlins, 2 8x22cm, brace arches

Wind bracing, 8x8 cm

Prof Schierle

Storage hall Walsum, Germany

Engineer: Bauabteilung Brninghof
The circular hall of 94.6 m diameter is 20.8 m high
Eight radial 3-hinge glue-lam arches span 94.6 m
A concrete tension ring/wall resists the lateral arch thrust
Arches are crescent-shaped to fit the funicular pressure
line for various loads to minimize bending stress.

Arch and vault structures

Roof framing plan


Hinge support

Arch bracing detail

Glue-lam arch, 20x140-226 cm, crescent shaped

Glue-lam beams, 8-16/16-70 cm, based on span

Arch bracing, 8x16cm

Steel hinge

Concrete tension ring

Prof Schierle

Wood arch design

Glue-lam arches, spaced 16, three-hinged for ease
of transportation and to avoid settlement stress.
Available dimensions: laminations;
3 1/8, 5 1/8, 6 3/4, 8 3/4, 10 3/4 wide).
Based on case studies, use conservative
allowable buckling stress:
Fc= 200 psi
Code live load of 20 psf, reduced 40% to 12 psf
for tributary area > 600 sq. ft.
LL = 12 psf
DL = 18 psf
= 30 psf

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle


Arch and vault structures

Distributed load
w = 30 psf x16/1000
w = 0.48 klf
Global moment
M = w L2/8 = 0.48 x 1002 / 8
M = 600 k
Horizontal reaction
H = M/d = 600 / 20
H = 30 k
Vertical reaction
R= wL/2= 0.48x100/2
R = 24 k
Arch compression (max.)
C= (H2+R2)1/2=(302+242)1/2
C = 38 k
Cross section area
A= C/Fc= 38/0.2 ksi
A = 190 in2
Glue-lam depth (try 51/8 wide glue-lam)
t =A/width =190/5.125= 37
Use 50 boards of
t = 37.5
Check slenderness ratio
L/t= 100x12/37.5
L/t = 32, OK
Prof Schierle

Arch slenderness L/t is usually about 30 to 40;
hence 32 is OK; while the 5 1/8 arch width is
braced against buckling by roof diaphragm.

Graphic Method

Draw equilibrium vector at support.

starting with computed vertical reaction

Draw a line parallel to support tangent and a

horizontal line

Measure length of unknown vectors:

horizontal vector is horizontal reaction
sloping vector is is max. arch force.

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle

Wood arch details

1 Two-hinge arch
2 Three-hinge arch
3 Crown hinge concealed
4 Crown hinge exposed
5 Base hinge concealed
6 Base hinge exposed
7 Base moment joint concealed
8 Base moment joint exposed
Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle


Bus Station Chur, Switzerland (1992)

Architect: Richard Brosi / Robert Obrist
Engineer: Toscano / Ove Arup (Peter Rice)
Located over a train station, the bus station
connects ski resorts.
The glass roof provides scenic mountain views.
Inclined 16 steel arches span a 164 platform.
Radial strands resist lateral thrust and buckling.
Arches are suspended from outrigger masts.
Arch/strut triangles resist lateral load.

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle


Arch span L = 50 m / 0,3048
Arch rise
Arch spacing e = (7.5 m/2) / 0.3048
Arch outside =406 mm / 25.4
Arch wall thickness
Arch inside diameter
Allowable steel stress Fa =0.6x50 ksi
Allowable strand stress Fa = 210/3
LL = 1.6 kPa x 0.145x144 in2/ft2
DL (estimate)
Uniform arch load
w = 60 psf x 12.3 / 1000
Global moment
M = w L2/8 = 0.74 x 1642/8
Horizontal reaction
H =M / d = 2488 / 30
Vertical reaction
R = w L /2 = 0.74 x 164 /2
Max arch compression
C = (H2 + R2)1/2 = (832 + 612)1/2
Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle

L ~ 164
d ~ 30
e = 12.3
~ 16
t ~
i = 15.5
Fa = 30 ksi
Fa = 70 ks
LL = 33 psf
DL = 27 psf
= 60 psf
w = 0.74 klf
M = 2488 k
H = 83 k
R = 61 k
C = 103 k

Max arch compression (from last slide)

Check allowable buckling stress
Radius of gyration
r = (2+ i2)1/2/4 = (162 + 152)1/2/4
Unbraced length (between strands)
KL = 1.1 x164 / 7
Slenderness ratio
KL/r = 26 x 12 / 5.48
Allowable buckling stress (AISC table)
Arch cross section
A =(2 -i2)/4= (162 -15.52)/4

A = r2
Arch and vault structures

r2 =A/

= 2r =2(A/)1/2

Max. arch stress

fa= C/A= 103 / 12
Check fa Fa
Max strand force
T ~ H = 83
Required metallic strand area
Am = T/Fa = 83 / 70
Gross strand area (70% metallic)
Ag = Am/07 = 1.2/0.7
Strand size
= 2(A/)1/2 = 2(1.7/)1/2 = 1.47
Prof Schierle

C = 103 k
r = 5.48
KL = 26
KL/r = 57
Fa=23 ksi
A = 12 in2
fa = 8.6 ksi
8.6<23, OK
T~ 83 k
Am = 1.2 in2
Ag = 1.7 in2
Use 1

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle


Cylindrical vault
Rib vault
Inverted cylindrical vault
Folded vault
Undulated vault
Corrugated vault

Arch and vault structures

Vault compositions

Vault cross sections


Prof Schierle

Some vault compositions generate

cross vaults with intersections that
provide implied ribs for improved
buckling resistance.


Exposition hall, Turin (1947-49)

Engineer: Pierre Luigi Nervi
The 75/94 m concrete vault of prefab Ferro-cement units
to resist buckling, are joined by site-cast concrete. The
wire mesh ferro-cement units integrate natural lighting.

A Ferro-cement unit
B Site-cast concrete rib
C Skylight

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle


Garden Festival Hall, Liverpool

Architect/Engineer: Ove Arup
This 78/62 m project was designed for a dual purpose:

Central focal point for the festival - and afterwards

Sports center with pool, a multipurpose hall

squash courts, a gymnasium, and related facilities

Three-hinge truss arches, spaced 3m

provides the flexibility required for both programs

Steel pylons support gravity load and lateral thrust

The vault has translucent 2 cm polycarbonate panels

The round endings are glad with corrugated aluminum

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle


Airship hanger, Orly airport, France

Engineer: Eugne Freyssinet
The first of two hangers, build in 1915 was the first
reinforced concrete vault.
Each vault spans 80m, is 300m long and 56m high.
The parabolic cross-section fits the funicular pressure
line for uniform load distributed horizontally.
To resist buckling under unbalanced load, the vaults
Consist of ribs of required depth without great dead load.
The 6 cm concrete ribs are 7.5 m wide, and vary
in depth from 5.4 m at the base to 3 m on top.
Skylights are integrated with the ribs.

Palace Ctesiphon (531 AD)

The ancient Palce Ctesiphon (Mesopotamien plain) has a
brick vault of 80 ft span (about 1/3 of Fryssinets vault).
The vault cross section approximates the parabolic
funicular pressure line for minimal bending stress.
Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle


IBM traveling exhibit

Architect: Renzo Piano
Engineer: Ove Arup/Peter Rice
The design objective for this traveling
exhibit pavilion was light weight and
ease of assembly and disassembly.
The 10x50 m pavilion was on exhibit in
major European cities.

Translucent polycarbonate pyramids

for natural daylight are supported by
two sets of glue-lam arches on the
inside and outside

Aluminum joints link arch segments

The three-hinge vault allows thermal

change without secondary stress

A base platform adjusts for local sites

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle


Architect: Camelot Maily Zehrfuss

Engineer: Nicholas Esquillan

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle

(At 600 ft span the longest span structure in the world)

CNIT exhibit hall Paris

Air terminal St. Louis

Architect: Minoru Yamasaki;

Engineer: Roberts & Schaefer

Alternate design by Nervi


Design great arches

Arch and vault structures

Prof Schierle