10 Types of Arches Used in Architecture and Engineering


How are arches classified in construction?

Architectural engineers and designers frequently categorize the kinds of arches they build based on a variety of characteristics, including:

What is an arch in architecture design?

is a curved building that spans an opening and bears the weight of the structure above it. However, modern architecture relies on the structural design of the arch in construction to create structural support systems in architecturally appealing styles. In the past, the arch was a crucial component that supported vaulted cathedral ceilings. Depending on the design, materials, and positioning of the center points, architects, engineers, and construction experts take different approaches to arch construction.

To evenly distribute the weight load of a building structure, all arch construction designs, however, include a wedge or a set of precisely fitted wedge-shaped blocks. The keystone, which masons set last in the construction of an arch, serves as the foundation for the wedge’s use in construction. The wedge-shaped blocks (voussoirs) need support from below until the keystone is placed. As the arch has evolved over time, it now combines contemporary engineering and architectural principles to achieve structural integrity and appealing design.

Types of arches in architecture

The examples that follow give you more information about the various kinds of arches you can encounter in engineering and architectural design:

Flat arch

In structural engineering, flat arches are categorized according to their shape, where the arch creates a rectangular shape with a flat top edge. The wedge stones in a flat arch almost form an equilateral triangle because the inner blocks forming the wedge’s taper are at a 60-degree angle and the outer edges of the wedge blocks are horizontal. Typically, flat arches can be used to build light structural loads like a substantial garden pergola or the door jamb of a home.

Round arch

Another common type of arch used in building construction is the round arch. The round arch, as its name suggests, has wedges at the top that form a semicircle. One of the earliest types of arches is the round arch, which has developed for use in contemporary contexts. The Roman arch, a timeless style with two supporting columns or a distinctive setting beneath the semi-circular arch design, is a great illustration of a round-style arch.

Pointed arches

Two circle arcs come together to form an apex at the top of the pointed arch. Another common structural design is pointed arches, which distribute weight equally while having a pleasing appearance. Due to its roots in medieval Gothic cathedrals, architects may also refer to the pointed arch as the Gothic arch.

Horseshoe arches

Round arches are less curved than horseshoe arches, which are frequently used as architectural features to improve designs. There are two main variations of the horseshoe arch: regular and pointed. A typical horseshoe arch has angled sides and a top form that is semicircular, just like a horseshoe.

Triangular arches

Two large stones are placed diagonally against one another to support the triangular arch over the opening. The two diagonal stones that make up the arch are supported by two parallel side structures. The Mayan arch and miter arch are two additional names for the triangular arch. This arch type typically consists of stone or concrete blocks due to the nature of the two supporting arch stones in a triangular design. Triangular arches are also less common in commercial building design, but some custom architectural designs may incorporate them for both aesthetic and structural reasons.

Centered arches

Centered arches are those with a predetermined number of center points, or the points on the arch that support the heaviest loads and evenly distribute them among the remaining wedge stones. One-centered arches, which can be flat, round, pointed, or horseshoe-shaped, all have a single central point. Three-centered arches have three center points, four-centered arches have four total center points, and two-centered arches integrate two central load bearing points. One type of two-centered arch is the Gothic arch, and some pointed arches may have three, four, or five centers.

Parabolic arches

A parabola assumes the form of a parabolic arch, which must be built using precise measurements to ensure that it will maintain its structural integrity over time. Although they are less frequent than round or semi-circular arches, parabolic arches can be used in many aesthetic projects that feature innovative architecture. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri is a fantastic illustration of how a parabolic arch is used.

Inflexed arch

A distinctive design that inverts the arcs of a pointed arch to produce two bows at the opening is known as an inflexed or reversed ogee arch. The archway’s inverted apex has a serpentine appearance that adds to its architectural appeal. Modern design incorporates the inflexible arch for a variety of building applications because it is a common aesthetic element in architecture.

Rampant arches

One support is higher than the other in rampant arches. On the outside of structural walls, rampant arches can be seen where the arch makes an opening in the wall’s side. Rampant arches also feature two distinct shapes: round and pointed. A pointed rampant arch has a pointed top, similar to a pointed arch, and a round rampant arch has a rounded top form.

Keyhole arch

Keyhole arch designs give entranceways an aesthetically pleasing symmetry and are frequently attractive in appearance. Keyhole arches are formed in the shape of a keyhole, with the supports bending outward beneath and a horseshoe-shaped top to the archway. As long as the design can support it, architects and engineers can use the keyhole design to accentuate the characteristics of a horseshoe arch.


What are the different type of arches?

One category of centered arches includes segmental, semicircular, flat, horseshoe, and stilted arches. In some instances, circular windows are provided with perfectly circular arches, known as bull’s-eye arches, which also fall under this category. The majority of this type’s arches are pointed, gothic, or lancet.

What are the types of arches in structural analysis?

A structure called an arch is made up of wedge-shaped units. Intrados and Extrados are terms used to describe the internal and external curves of an arch, respectively. The principal purpose of the arches is to carry the weight of the wall that is positioned above the openings.

What are arches in construction?

Arches can be categorized as semicircular, segmental, or pointed depending on their geometry. They can be further divided into two-hinged arches, three-hinged arches, or fixed arches depending on the quantity of internal hinges, as shown in Figure 6. 1. This chapter discusses the analysis of three-hinge arches only.

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