Rib vault

A ribbed vault is a vault, which is self-supporting ribs (cross ribs ) are formed and maintained. The ribs cross one another as the diagonals in a rectangle; they derive the pressure and shear forces of the vault onto the pillar. Every Cross rib is composed of several profiled work stones. At the point at which cross the ribs, there is a capstone.

The ribbed vault is a typical element of Gothic architecture. It enabled high church rooms. The walls were relieved compared to the barrel vault and could be fitted with larger window areas.

As one of the first cross-ribbed vaults applies the - still late Romanesque - transept vault of Speyer Cathedral (after 1081 ).


A ribbed vault consists of the four costal arches, the corresponding four abutment points in the corners and the central keystone. The caps between the ribs - of whatever type - only filling plant, with no load-bearing function.

Ribs and caps are not positively connected with each other normally and have a supporting effect on its own. The stable cross-rib arches are hardly involved in the load transfer of the caps.

In the so-called skeleton construction first the vault ribs are built on teaching arches. With the onset of the final stone they are strong. After the caps are built of bricks or natural stones. On a formwork can be partially dispensed with entirely.

If follow in the longitudinal axis of the building several successive vaults, on the other hand refers to the abutting the longitudinal wall arches as barrel vaults, the arches between the individual vaults as transverse arches or straps. If the vaults of central and side aisles at the same level (Hall Church ), the arches which separate the naves along each other, referred to as the vagina arches.

Architecture, this consequences

The design of the ribbed vault of the church could be excessive. It was possible to produce much higher compared to the areas vault. Builder no longer had a vault on thick walls and aisles raise to intercept the static forces. The wall was flooded with light walls are decorated. The static forces could be derived with greater ceiling heights on the walls or pillars.

Furthermore, the curvature on a rectangular ground plan and not just about square was possible. The use of pointed arches a far-reaching plan of freedom was given, because now not cause different spans of barrel vaults and arches as in diagonal arches forcibly to different heights of the arches.

This not only lower expenses for formwork was required, but the vault caps could be supported freely between the cross ribs without as before to create a complete cladding of wood. The design of space curvatures was free in this way and less expensive than in the Romanesque style.

With the construction of the cross- ribs is also been possible to boost to overcome, especially in the apex. The vault caps, which were only in radially arched Romanesque and bound to the square plan, now could be built with different span, while had to have the same support width for the same peak height Romanesque arches.


The basic form of two intersecting ribs will be referred to as a four-piece vault. Is this vault divided in the transverse direction by a walking from Capstone to the outer walls rib in six caps, one speaks of a six-part vault, which is typical of early Gothic churches. Using the six-part vaults, the so-called bound system in which a central nave vaults are assigned to two on each side aisle vault arises. Located in the longitudinal direction by a crown rib, formed an eight -part vault.

Ribbed vault can be supported by additional ribs, so that subjects ribs, ribs stars, ribs networks or other patterns may emerge. Then the vault are also designated according ( fan-vaulted ceiling stellar vault, vaulting, Schlingrippengewölbe etc.).

Early rib construction in San Baudelio de Berlanga

Four-piece ribbed vault in the Abbey Church of St. Lambrecht, Styria

Colored painted, four-part cross-ribbed vault in the Collegiate Neuchâtel

Model of a six-part vault

Star vault in Kulm (Poland )

Net vault in St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol ( England)

Net vault in the Basilica Seckau, Styria

Net vault in the two-aisled church St. Oswald- Möderbrugg, Styria

Net vault in the parish church of St. Oswald- Möderbrugg, Styria

Schlingrippengewölbe in Koenigswiesen

Emergence in the late Roman

Ribbed vaults are of the form according to the previously developed cross vaults similar, but in the design, they are fundamentally different, since the ribs now took a supporting function. In the developed Romanesque created the first cross-ribbed vaults, by a flat belt rib was placed on the ridge, the first of a decorative and constructive seen initially had no load-bearing function. As a first Romanesque ribbed vault the transept vault of Speyer Cathedral apply (after 1081 ). About the same time was from 1093 with the ribbed vaults of the Cathedral of Durham, the first uniform in all parts vaulted with ribbed construction. In this development phase simple cross-sections shaped the rib shapes (square, almond-shaped, pear- shaped, etc. ), from which evolved the vault with supporting cross ribs.

Certain rib cross -sectional shapes were associated with different monastic orders and individual monasteries. For example, preferred entrusted with construction tasks conversi ( lay brothers ) in the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux rib shapes of square cross-section ( the so-called box rib ). These are also detectable in all monasteries daughter of Clairvaux. About the Cistercian Clairvaux converse ' got these ribs form in the secular architecture, as in the castles and forts of Frederick II in southern Italy ( Castel del Monte, etc.).