Timbrel vaults in Sicily: analysis of a little-known construction technique

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The search for alternatives to wood for the construction of floorings has led to in-depth study and experiments onvaulted structures, with interesting results regarding originality and diffusion throughout specific areas. We analyzeSicilian vaults, consisting of overlapping layers of thin tiles, bonded together with plaster (realine vaults, in the locallanguage). This type of vaulting, already widely-documented in late-Medieval Mediterranean Spain, was probablyintroduced in Sicily at the end of the 15th century and was little known until the mid-eighteenth century.Direct analysis of the many examples of Sicilian vaults that are still visible is backed up by archive material relatingto the major construction-sites and by official price-lists for Sicily. This has enabled the study to focus on identifyingthe basic building techniques and countless variations that the builders applied, which were considered idealsolutions for mitigation of earthquake damage, because of their lightness and a presumed monolithic structure.Timbrel vaults have been largely ignored in technical and cultural histories perhaps mainly because they have eitherbeen demolished or transformed into decorative ceilings. The precise and comparative knowledge of the many casesunearthed, in addition to the continuing building-work in other Mediterranean countries and the Americas, along withthe partial and complete reconstructions in more recent years, all provide material for a comprehensive assessment ofthe potential and limitations, the real possibilities or opportunities for maintenance, rehabilitation or reconstruction.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)107-132
Numero di pagine26
RivistaConstruction History
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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  • ???subjectarea.asjc.2200.2215???
  • ???subjectarea.asjc.1200.1213???


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