The Stone Arch


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This pattern derives from the new patterns “Nothing Phony” and “See How It Is Built”.

With the advent of modern steel, we are now able to make stone and brickwork defy gravity. Specifically, the use of steel lintels allows stone and brick to span large openings without requiring an arch. This ignores 2,000 years of masonry tradition. Heavy stones with nothing obviously holding them up and spanning a wide opening simply look like they should fall down.



Not This…                  But This.

Stone arches were surely built back in antiquity, but it was the Romans who perfected the arch. Older ancient Greek architecture, while superb, did not utilize the arch. The size of openings was limited by the size of big stones that formed the lintel. So they required lots of closely spaced columns. To their credit,this might be why the Greeks perfected the subtle shape of their exquisite tapered columns.




In any stone or brickwork, strive to have all openings spanned with real self-supporting arches. If you have to resort to structural steel to hold it up, then it is little more than a facade.



Gary Zuker is a Senior Systems Administrator at the University of Texas, Austin. In 1989 he built a house outside of Austin. Inspired and guided by "A Pattern Language", he developed 12 new patterns during the process of building his house.
Gary Zuker

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