Architecture And Its Related Domical And Arched Structures

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Vaulted architecture and its related domical and arched structures are amongst the most substantial Roman contributions to architectural knowledge throughout history. The significance of their accomplishments and innovations in engineering are proven by structures such as the vaulted and domed structures at Hadrian’s Villa (ca 118-138CE) and Trajan’s Markets (ca 105 – 10 CE) , which, after millennia still seem everlasting. The notion of curved architecture did not originate with the Romans , thus one begs to question how the vaulted structure became so successful as a contributor and staple of Roman architecture?

Arch forms were first introduced to the Romans by the Etruscans and were established from a standpoint of practicality. Existing building elements such as the widely used column, could only sustain the weight placed directly above it; therefore a second vertical element was required for the support of a horizontal spanning element, as a result the spanning distance was limited. Vaulted structures however, are capable of distributing load over a wider area; the expansion from its base and extrusion outwards also portray a more unified and dynamic quality. The vault, as a result, became more widely accepted; used predominantly as the roofs or ceiling of a structure. The barrel vault was the most fundamental of these forms, more sophisticated developments such as the groin vault and domical-vault were utilised in Trajan’s Markets and Hadrian’s Villa respectively.

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