The ‘false vaults’ in the architecture of Sicily

Risultato della ricerca: Articlepeer review


Between the end of the 17th century and the first decades of the 18th, Sicily was struck byseveral violent earthquakes. The total and partial collapse of monumentalbuildings produced a global debate involving various aspects of construction practice. Oneof the central topics of discussion was the construction of domes and large vaultedstructures. Some architects studied the possibility of using so-called ‘false vaults’, a kindof lightweight structure created with a wooden frame, reed mats, and plaster. The techniquewas probably known by the 16th century and was used in a few major monuments, such as thedome of the Palermo Cathedral, in the mid-17th century. It was only after the Earthquake of1726 in Palermo that large vaulted structures were extensively built with thistechnique in important churches. One of the most significant examples, documented bytechnical drawings as well as archival records, is the church of Santa Chiara in Noto, designedby the architect Rosario Gagliardi. The use of ‘false vaults’ as a preventative measure againstseismic damage is well documented in many other monuments. The direct analysis of builtstructures and new documentary evidence allows for the verification of recent theories. Thepaper focus on the construction techniques used in a few selected cases and takes intoconsideration the influences of widely available texts on architectural theory and practice aswell as local building experiences on the genesis of the building process.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)53-70
Numero di pagine18
RivistaConstruction History
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2015


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