Catalan Vault Building in Barcelona

Jordi Domenech is a second generation master mason from Catalunya specializing in the catalan vault method and has built these structures for over 50 years. He is one of the world’s leading builders and teachers on this technique, having constructed hundreds of works, and teaches workshops on traditional masonry techniques.

The Catalan vault – also known as Timbrel vault, Guastavino vault, or Mao Pla (Flat Brick) in Catalan – is one of the strongest, most durable, efficient, and versatile means of spanning a space with masonry. It requires little to no formwork, and can take on a wide variety of forms. Thin tile bricks are mortared together on their ends with either a natural cement or a gypsum mortar (both rapid setting), followed by subsequent layers of the same bricks set in Portland cement or lime mortar with bricks being offset from previous layers. Vaults are generally composed of three or more layers of brick. Thousands of these structures have stood the test of time in Europe, North America, and elsewhere. This technique was popular at the end of the 19th century and was used extensively by Antonio Gaudi as well as the Guastavino Tile Company. The workshop was hosted at the Museo Del Cimento, Castellar de N’Hug, outside of Barcelona.

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