Josemara de Churtichaga – Circumstance and Reinvention: The Story of the Vaults Without Falsework



Lecture date: 2002-02-15

During the Spanish Civil War the town of Villanueva de la Cañada, just north of Madrid, was situated on the line of conflict. Its buildings were reduced to rubble in the crossfire. After the war the town was chosen for reconstruction, but the architects were faced with a major technical problem – there was no steel or wood from which to make beams and lintels. The architects found the solution in what is known outside of Spain as the Catalan arch or vault, a light barrel vault made of brick and constructed without falsework.

Josemaría de Churtichaga’s lecture traces the history of this construction device from the early middle ages (it was used in the dome of Hagia Sophia) to its use by Gaudi (in the school of the Sagrada Familia), to Le Corbusier, and then, via the work of Guastavino, to the USA. Churtichaga is a structural engineer and co-founder of an architectural practice with his wife Cayetana de la Quadra-Salcedo. Quadra-Salcedo joins him for the Q & A.

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