Delft Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Structural Design


Just after World War II a structural system, known as Fusée Ceramique, was popular in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and North Africa. Many barrel vaults and several domes were built as industrial buildings, churches and halls. These roofs were composed of cylindrical ceramic elements, mortar and steel bars. Generally combining varying materials is hazardous, especially when the physical features vary. For example reinforced concrete would not be used all over the world in case the coefficients of thermal expansion of steel and concrete were unequal. Actually the coefficients of thermal expansion of ceramics and mortar of the Fusée Ceramique are unequal, so a change of temperature will cause internal stresses. Due to shrinkage the mortar in the composition will crack and the ceramic elements will transfer the better part of the permanent loads to the supports. Nevertheless some of these buildings are still in use and perform well. In this paper the schemes, theories, idealizations and assumptions, practiced during the nineteen fifties, are analysed, validated and discussed. Showing the disadvantages and advantages of the Fusée Ceramique, concerning load transfer and stress distribution, this study can contribute to the development of new compositions.

Key words
Barrel vaults, composite, ceramic elements, stresses, reinforcement