Timbrel vaults in Sicily. Constructive techniques and intervention methodologies

Risultato della ricerca: Articlepeer review


Among the many types of vaults found in Sicily, aiming to combine economy and lightness without sacrificing safety, we analyze Sicilian vaulted floorings consisting in three or four overlapping layers of thin tiles woven together with plaster (realine vaults, according to local definition). There is no reliable informations of origins of these vaults, this type of vaulting was likely to be introduced in Sicily in mid eighteenth century, and reinterpreted in light of local building culture. It has repeatedly given original solutions, given also the peculiar environmental and geographical conditions and the high seismicity of the area. Not casually, a large use of these vaults in Western Sicily, especially in Palermo, date back to the period immediately following XVIII century earthquakes (1726 and 1751): these vaults were in fact considered good solutions if applied for earthquakes prevention, because of their lightness and a presumed monolithic structure, which could reduce the thrust on perimeter walls. Paradoxically, the collapse of some of these structures during seismic events in the nineteenth century, discouraged their re-proposal for many decades. Currently, many findings during restoration works have made necessary a close study and an accurate assessment of the whole constructive system, in this paper we analyse the peculiarities of technical solutions and the original elements of the Sicilian structures. Almost totally ignored by the official technical culture, thin brick vaults actually are mostly demolished or transformed in decorative ceilings. So we intend to document the possibility to maintain and reconstruct these vaults even with their structural function, instead of tearing them down. The detailed and comparative knowledge of many cases, encouraged also by building continuity in other Mediterranean countries and in the Americas, but also the partial and total reconstructions that have occurred in recent years, allow to properly assess potentialities and limitations, the real possibility or opportunity for their maintenance, rehabilitation or re-proposal, even preserving the structural function.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)24-36
Numero di pagine13
Volumevolume 3
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2017


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