Timbrel Vaulting in South Africa by Peter Rich Architects

Mapungubwe 12 Reader Sergio Carratalá informs us of yet another recent example of timbrel vaulting – a medieval building method that we described extensively in “Tiles as a substitute for steel“.

It concerns the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa, designed by Peter Rich Architects from Johannesburg. The project won the World Building Award at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) held in Barcelona last month.

The Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre, which is built to house artifacts from the region’s prehistory, was constructed using local materials and using the skills and labour of local people. Unemployed South Africans were trained in the manufacture of earth tiles and in building the
timbrel vaults.

Mapungubwe 17 Timbrel vaulting (or “Catalan vaulting”) is being rediscovered as an ecological building technique because it saves large amounts of building materials and thus embodied energy. This also makes it a cheap building method, at least in regions were hand labour is affordable. Via Sergio Carratalá.

More pictures below (courtesy of Peter Rich and the WAF).


timbrel vaulting south africa


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