UIC Barcelona researchers confirm the use of vaults in military engineering projects in Spain since the 18th century

The research was presented by Josep Lluis i Ginovart, Cinta Lluis Teruel, Iñigo Ugalde and Zahra Hadji at the Construction History Society’s eighth annual conference organised by the University of Cambridge

Spanish military engineers started using vaults in Spain during the 18th century as a construction system for domes, vaults and staircases. It represents the principal thesis of the study “The Behaviour of Tile Vaulted Structures in Spanish Military Engineering”, presented by the director of UIC Barcelona School of Architecture, Josep Lluis i Ginovart, lecturers Cinta Lluis Teruel and Iñigo Ugalde and doctoral student Zahra Hadji on 27 August as part of the Construction History Society’s eighth annual conference, held at the prestigious Queen’s College of the University of Cambridge

The UIC Barcelona researchers started by analysing the graphic representations of engineering projects stored at the Ministry of Culture’s State Archive and the General Archive of Simancas. They also analysed cartography drawn by the Ministry of Defence, and other projects belonging to the General Archive of Segovia, and the General Military Archive and Naval Museum of Madrid.

After analysing the documentation, the researchers concluded that Spanish Military Engineer Corps began to incorporate the use of vaults into their designs in a generalised manner from the beginning of the 18th century. This construction system offers great mechanical advantages and has been used in Spain since the 14th century. “Construction using partitioned vaults was common in civil construction throughout the Spanish Levante. Therefore, since the creation of the Spanish Military Engineer Corps, there was a rapid assimilation of the use of this construction system that had been used throughout the territory for more than three centuries", they emphasised. 

The study includes examples of how this construction method has been applied to churches, such as the blueprint for the choir of Barcelona’s Ciutadela Church, designed in 1718, or the pitched gable roof of the new parish church of San Julián in Ferrol (1764). There are also examples of the use of this technique in the construction of vaults and staircases, such as those included in the designs for the arsenal of Barcelona (1717). This system was also used for small vaulted constructions such as guard houses or the domes of small chapels, such as the Muelle de Levante Chapel in Malaga (1727).

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)