Case Study of the Structural Behavior of a Catalan Bricks Masonry Vault

L. Palizzolo; S. Benfratello; G. Campione
Catalan vaults are a peculiar type of low thickness vaulted brick masonry structure. Knowledge of load-deflection response and load bearing capacity are important aspects to consider with the aim of preserving these structural members as part of the cultural heritage. In order to investigate these aspects, complete knowledge of the constituent materials and geometry (dimension, thickness, constructive section) is necessary in such a way as to predict the load-deflection response and the effective load-carrying capacity; the latter can be determined utilizing simplified models (limit analysis) or by means of a numerical analysis (finite element method). With this aim, the structural behaviour of a Catalan vault found in an ancient building in Palermo (Italy) is studied, through an experimental investigation including material characterization and loading test on a full-scale vault. A numerical structural analysis is carried out utilizing an appropriate nonlinear finite element model. The experimental program consisted of on compressive and flexural tests on masonry units and single blocks. From the theoretical point of view, after the identification of an appropriate constitutive model based on the experimental results, a numerical analysis of the vault is performed to study the serviceability condition and the impending collapse one. The obtained results confirm the remarkable structural features of such vaults representing an important step related to the restoration of ancient structures as well as to the design of new ones.
Catalan Vaults; Experimental Analysis; Constitutive Model; Numerical Analysis; Structural Behaviour
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