The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 90 (2012) > Issues > Issue 11 > Innovative funicular tile vaulting: A prototype vault in Switzerland
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Innovative funicular tile vaulting: A prototype vault in Switzerland

This paper presents advances in funicular tile vaulting, made possible through innovation in form finding, falsework systems and construction methods. A full-scale prototype has been realised with the application of new research in the following areas: newly developed structural design tools based on Thrust Network Analysis (TNA), which allow one to generate novel shapes for funicular (compression-only) structures; an efficient digitally fabricated cardboard falsework system, which provides accurate description of a complex reference surface in space; and adaptations of traditional tile vaulting techniques, which have introduced strategies for generating continuous tiling patterns, non-uniform vault thickening, and construction sequencing for structural stability. The methods described in this paper, as applied for the design and construction of the prototype vault, have offered new insights to the challenges of new funicular form for masonry and have paved the way for future research and applications.

Author(s): Lara Davis, BFA, MArch Research Assistant Matthias Rippmann, Dipl.-Ing. Research Assistant Tom Pawlofsky, MA Research Assistant Philippe Block, BSc, MSc, SMArchS, PhD Assistant Professor (All authors are with the Institute of Technology in Architecture, ETH Zurich)

Keywords: research, funicular structures, thin shells, tiles, vaults, masonry, falsework, cardboard, load tests