The Art of Vaulting: Design and Construction of Large Vaults in the Mediterranean Gothic

Some of the most impressive achievements in Gothic construction were erected in the Mediterranean area. Partially influenced by Roman architecture, they appeared as the result of several centuries of technical progress, thus representing an important example of technology transfer in combination with contemporaneous transformations.

This is the context against which outstanding buildings like the cathedrals of Mallorca and Girona were built, featuring some of the highest and widest vaults raised in the Middle Ages. Selected vaults and their buttressing system will be surveyed and analysed from a twofold point of view: technical and historical. The project’s objective is to investigate the construction process and link it to historical documents. A profound study of the vaults, pillars, and buttressing system will be carried out, surveying them with new digital tools such as laser scanner. The form, including masonry distortions, will be taken into account in order to analyse the construction of the different elements. A critical revision of the written sources will shed new light on construction processes in the Mediterranean area. The organisation of building sites of such magnitude and the execution of the work will be studied in historical documents preserved in Mediterranean archives and institutions. A special focus will lie on references in the documents to construction techniques and materials.

The combination of field work and the study of written sources will broaden our knowledge of how these impressive monuments were built and what construction techniques were employed.

Researchers: Paula Fuentes González, Anke Wunderwald