1) Professor, Northumbria University, Mechanical and Construction Engineering Department

2) Assistant Professor, University of Perugia, Department of Engineering,

3) Full Professor, University of Perugia, Department of Engineering


The innovative technique here illustrated is the result of historical evolution of an ancient system of reinforcing tiled vaults belonging to the ancient constructive Spanish tradition. Such a traditional technique (called Catalan vaulting [15]) does not rely on gravity but on the adhesion of several layers of overlapping tiles which are woven together with fast-setting mortar. If just one layer of thin tiles was used, the structure would collapse, but adding two or three layers makes the resulting laminated shell almost as strong as reinforced concrete. Since the use of modern technologies may improve the mechanical performance of the traditional materials, the core of the proposed strengthening system is based on the idea obtaining “reinforced” masonry vaults or arches by overlapping different layers of tiles or thin bricks and laminates, embedded within an hydraulic mortar, so that the entire assembly may act as a single structural unit. Eight prototypes of brickwork arches were tested under a monotonic vertical load applied at the keystone. The influence of the types of reinforcement, number of layers and properties of hydraulic mortar has been investigated. Laboratory outcomes are presented and discussed in the paper considering mechanical behavior of specimens and axial stress-axial strain relationships.


Keywords: Arches; Tile vaults; Masonry; Reinforcement; Glass mesh.