More on Timbrel Roofs — 11 Comments

    • They must be very waterproof or they would not have been used for such major public buildings. I imagine that the way they are built with the 3 layers of tiles that are staggered and laid in such a way that the seams never line up, and with cement mortar sandwiched between each layer tends to keep the water from migrating through. They probably use a very cement-rich mortar as well, which tends to be rather waterproof. These days you can also add waterproofing agents to such mortar.

  1. YouTube has several videos about timbrel vaults. One video shows them stacking lots of heavy adobes on top the finished roof (tons of weight) to demonstrate how strong they are.

    • They’re used in cold climates like New York, so obviously they insulate them. I know they can build a double, hollow roof. Maybe they put insulation inside. You’ll have to research more.

    • I was wondering that myself… I was toying with the idea of incorporating a living roof for that very reason. I found a time lapse video of a timbrel vaulted dome under construction. In the description it states:

      “There are three tile layers in all, and the result is a dome with massive lateral strength – strong enough to park a 10tonne truck on them (if you could get it up there.) In reality, the domes will support soil and grass for a living ‘Kent Downland’ roof that will blend naturally in with the bank that Pines Calyx nestles beside.”

      Not sure what the insulation value would be, but, that was my first thought since the winters in Northern Missouri can have fairly harsh winters at times (though not recently).

      Here is the link to the video:

  2. This seems like it would be a great way to make a very strong hypocaust floor, along with all the previously mentioned benefits.

    Any thoughts on the best way to make the roof/wall connection with earthbags? Seems like a concrete bond beam with some sort of groove/prepared area to accept the tiles would be the easiest. I wonder if you could maintain strength of the roof if you built up the bottom lip and drilled holes all around, allowing you to use wire or cordage etc. to tie the roof down a few courses deep in the wall.

    • Great idea about incorporating hypocaust floors.

      Yes, make a reinforced concrete bond beam, possibly with a ledge built in on top to help contain the tiles. The free book probably covers the details. Add rebar from the bond beam down into the earthbag walls to tie everything together. See my post the other day about Integrated Bond Beams.

  3. I give timbrel roofs a top rating for sustainability for all the reasons Paul pointed out. Timbrel roofs utilize minimal natural materials to create strong, beautiful and incredibly durable structures. The biggest downside seems to be the learning curve. It would take a good bit of time and effort to learn this skill.

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