What is an Arch | Parts of Arch – Detailed Information

If you are not from civil background then you might wonder what is an arch, Let’s answer it. An arch is a curved shaped structure constructed with wedge shaped unit to support the weight of the wall above it. In an arch, blocks or bricks are arranged in such a manner that it can support each other and load bricks above it. The weight of the above wall is transferred through piers or abutments.

Also Read: Standard Room Sizes and Room Area

Parts of Arch

Arch can support the load of wall above it through its various components. Let us look in detail about parts of arch:

What is an Arch - Parts of Arch
What is an Arch – Parts of Arch

1. Pier or abutment

The support on which an arch rest is called a Pier or abutment.

Both terms are used interchangeably but there is a slight difference. Abutment are the end support when multiple arch are there and piers are common support for two arches.

2. Soffit or Intrados

Soffit or Intrados is the inner surface of an arch.

3. Extrados

Exterior surface of an arch or the external surface is called extrados.

4. Arch Ring

An arch ring is a set of bricks or blocks having curves similar to that of an arch.

5. Arch Block or Voussoirs

Voussoirs or arch block are wedge-shaped structure that forms the arch.

6. Crown

The highest part of an arch or the topmost point of the extrados is called a crown.

7. Springer or Springing Stone

The first stone of an arch block or voussoir is called the springer or springing stone.

8. Springing Line

The line joining the two springing stones on both side of the arch is called the springing line.

9. Springing Point

Extremities of the intrados are called the springing points.

10. Keystone

The top most wedge shaped block of an arch is called a Keystone.

11. Striking Point or Center Of Arch

A geometric point is an arc forming arch rings, intrados of arch and extrados of arch.

12. Span of Arch

The span of the arch is the horizontal distance between the two support, that is between piers or abutments.

13. Skew-back

The surface on which the arch is supported is called a skew-back.

14. Rise of Arch

The Vertical distance between the springing line and the topmost point on intrados is called as the rise of an arch.

15. Depth of Arch

The perpendicular distance between the intrados and extrados is called the depth of arch.

16. Spandril

Triangular walling surrounded by the extrados of the arch, a horizontal line from the crown of the arch, and a perpendicular line from the rising of the outer curves are called the spandril.

17. Haunch

The part below the line joining the crown of the arch and skewback is called a haunch.

What is an arch in architecture?

An arch is a curved structure that spans an opening, distributing weight and providing support.

What are the main components of an arch?

The main components include the keystone, voussoirs (wedge-shaped stones), intrados (inner curve), extrados (outer curve), springing (where the arch starts to curve), and impost (supporting blocks).

What is the purpose of the keystone in an arch?

The keystone is the central stone that locks the other stones into place, ensuring stability and load distribution.

How do different types of arches differ in shape and purpose?

Various arch types, like the Roman arch (semi-circular), Gothic arch (pointed), and trefoil arch (three-lobed), have different shapes and were used for specific architectural and aesthetic reasons.

Are arches purely decorative?

While arches can be decorative, they primarily serve as load-bearing structures, distributing weight and providing stability.

Can arches be used in modern architecture?

Yes, arches can be adapted to modern designs, blending traditional aesthetics with contemporary functionality.

Are there any advantages to using arches in architecture?

Arches distribute weight more efficiently than straight horizontal openings, allowing for larger spans without the need for excessive supports.

How are historic arches preserved and restored?

Historic arches are preserved using modern restoration techniques that balance authenticity with structural integrity.

What is the significance of arches in historic architecture?

Arches are not only structurally important but also symbolize strength, durability, and architectural grandeur.

Can arches be used in interior design?

Yes, arches can be incorporated into interior spaces to create unique visual elements and define distinct areas.

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