39 Types of Arches in Architecture and Construction (Shapes, Materials)

There are many types of arches in architecture and construction. The type of arch that you use depends on the purpose of the structure and the materials that are available to you. In this blog post, we will discuss the history of arches and explore some of the most common types used in both ancient and modern times.

What Are Arches?

Arches are one of the most common and iconic features of architecture. They are used to support a variety of structures, from bridges to buildings.

Arches come in many different shapes and sizes, but all share a common principle: they use compression to support weight.

This means that the force of gravity is pushing down on the arch, while the arch itself is pushing back up against it. The result is a stable structure that can support a lot of weight.

History of arches

The arch is one of the oldest and most important structural innovations in human history. The first arches were probably built by the ancient Egyptians, who used them to support the roofs of their temples and tombs.

The Romans later perfected the arch and used it extensively in their own architecture, including aqueducts, bridges, and baths.

The arch continued to be an important element of architecture in the centuries that followed, and can be found in buildings all over the world.

Today, arches are often used for decorative purposes as well as for their original purpose of supporting structures. Whatever their use, they remain one of humanity’s most enduring and versatile inventions.

What type of structure is an arch?

There are many types of arches, but the most common is the true arch. It is composed of wedge-shaped blocks called voussoirs, which are arranged in a curved shape and held together by gravity.

The other type of arch is the false arch, which relies on horizontal compression to stay intact. Arches can be found in a variety of settings, from bridges to buildings, and they are often used to add a decorative touch.

Types Of Arches by Shape.

1. Art Nouveau Arch

Art Nouveau arch is an architectural style that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is characterized by its use of curving lines, often inspired by nature, and its focus on ornamental details.

Art Nouveau arch first emerged in Belgium in the 1880s, and quickly spread to other countries, including France, Germany, Austria, and Russia. One of the most famous examples of Art Nouveau architecture is the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, Belgium.

2. Asian Arch

Asian arch is an architectural style that originated in Asia. It is characterized by its use of curved lines and ornate details. Asian arch is often seen in Chinese and Japanese architecture.

The most notable feature of Asian arch is its use of curved lines. This can be seen in the way that roofs are often curve upwards, as well as in the way that doorways and windows are often curved. Asian arch also often makes use of ornate details, such as carved wood or stone work.

3. Camber Arch

A camber arch is an architectural feature that allows for a structure to be supported while still allowing light and air to pass through. They are commonly found in Gothic Revival architecture as well as Islamic architecture. Camber arches can be either semi-circular or segmental in shape.

One of the most notable examples of a camber arch is the Great West Window of Westminster Abbey. This window is composed of 16 camber arches that allow light to enter the Abbey while still providing support for the weight of the roof.

While camber arches are not as common as they once were, they can still be found in many modern buildings. They are often used in skylights or atriums in order to let natural light into a space.

4. Catenary Arch

A catenary arch is a type of arch that is constructed from a chain or cable which hangs freely from its endpoints. The shape of the chain or cable is what gives the catenary arch its distinctive curved shape.

The word “catenary” comes from the Latin word for “chain”, and it’s this chain-like shape that gives the arch its strength. The weight of the chain or cable is evenly distributed along its length, meaning that it can support a large amount of weight without collapsing.

Catenary arches were commonly used in the construction of bridges and viaducts during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, they are still occasionally used in the construction of temporary structures, such as scaffolding.

5. Cinquefoil Arch

A cinquefoil arch is a five-centered arch, often used in Gothic Revival architecture. The name comes from the French word for “five leaves”, which refers to the five lobes of the flower known as cinquefoil or five-finger grass.

Cinquefoil arches were commonly used in Gothic Revival churches and other structures in the 19th century. They are often found in pairs, flanking a doorway or window.

The cinquefoil arch is sometimes called a “floral” or “foliate” arch, due to its resemblance to a flower. This type of arch was popular in medieval architecture and continued to be used in the Gothic Revival style.

6. Draped Arch

Draped arch is an architectural element. It is formed by two free-standing columns connected at the top by a horizontal beam, lintel, or entablature. The space between the columns is usually filled with a pediment or tympanum.

Draped arch became popular during the Renaissance period. Many architects and builders used it to add decorative elements to their buildings. Some of the most famous draped arches can be found in the city of Rome.

7. Elliptical Arch

Elliptical arch is a type of arch that has an ellipse-shaped curve. It is often used in architecture, and can be seen in many buildings and bridges.

Elliptical arches are stronger than round arches because of its shape The weight of the elliptical arch is evenly distributed throughout its structure, which makes it more stable.

One of the most famous elliptical arches is the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. The arch was built in 1806 to honor Napoleon Bonaparte and his army.

8. Equilateral Pointed Arch

An equilateral pointed arch is a type of arch that has three sides of equal length and two angled sides. This type of arch is often used in Gothic architecture.

9. Fixed Arch

A fixed arch is a type of arch that is constructed so that it cannot move or collapse. This type of arch is often used in the construction of bridges and other structures where there is a need for extra support. Fixed arches are usually made from stone, concrete, or steel.

The most common type of fixed arch is the brick arch. This type of arch is made by using bricks that are placed in a curved shape. The bricks are then held together with mortar.

10. Flat Arch

A flat arch, also known as a jack arch or an impost block, is a type of arch that has a flat surface on top. This type of arch is often used in construction projects where the weight of the load is not evenly distributed.

Flat arches are commonly used in bridges, tunnels, and other types of construction projects where there is a need for support. These arches are able to bear loads that are not evenly distributed, making them ideal for use in these types of projects.

11. Florentine Arch

A Florentine arch is a three-centered arch, or an arch with three ribs, each of which has an equal rise. The Florentine arch was popularized during the Renaissance in Florence, Italy, hence its name.

The Florentine arch first appeared in the 12th century and reached the height of its popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries. This type of arch is often used in doorways, windows, and arcades.

12. Gothic Arch

The Gothic arch is a pointed arch, which evolved during the 12th century. It was commonly used in Gothic architecture. Gothic arches are usually taller and narrower than Romanesque arches, and they have an acute point.

Gothic arches are often found in cathedrals and other large religious buildings. They are also sometimes used in secular architecture, such as castles and manor houses.

13. Hinged Arch

A hinged arch is an arch that has one or more joints that allow it to move. This type of arch is often used in construction and architecture. Hinged arches can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, stone, metal, and concrete.

Some common examples of hinged architecture include: doors, windows, bridges, and gates. Hinged arches are often used in construction because they can bear a lot of weight and they are easy to install.

14. Horseshoe Arch

Horseshoe arch, also called Moorish arch or Almohad arch, in architecture and construction, a semicircular arch with flared sides (flattened extrados and intrados) resulting from the intersection of two barrel vaults at right angles.

Horseshoe arches are found extensively in Islamic architecture, particularly in Spain and North Africa. They were also used in Romanesque and Gothic architecture in Europe, especially in Spain and Italy.

15. Inflexed Arch

An inflexed arch is an arch with a horizontal intrados and an extrados that intersect at the springing line. The extrados may be splayed, but it is more often convex.

16. Keyhole Arch

A keyhole arch is a type of arch that has a narrow opening at the top, typically in the shape of a keyhole. Keyhole arches are often used in architecture and construction, especially for doorways and windows.

Why use keyhole arch?

There are several reasons why you might use a keyhole arch in your architecture or construction project. Keyhole arches can add visual interest to a door or window, and they can also be used to create an illusion of space. In addition, keyhole arches can help to deflect wind and rain away from a doorway or window.

17. Lancet Arch

A lancet arch is a tall, narrow arch with acutely pointed sides. This type of arch was popular during the Gothic period and can be found in many Gothic cathedrals and churches. The lancet arch is often used as an ornamental feature, but it can also be functional.

18. Ogee Arches

Ogee arch is an arch with a double curve. It’s also known as Venetian or keel arch. The term “ogee” comes from the French word for S-shaped, which is what this type of arch looks like.

Ogee arches are often used in Gothic Revival architecture, as they were popular during the Gothic period. They can also be found in Islamic architecture, as well as Romanesque and Renaissance architecture.

19. Parabolic Arch

A parabolic arch is a type of arch that has the shape of a parabola. It is often used in architecture and construction.

The parabolic arch was first used by the ancient Romans. They used it to build aqueducts and bridges. The parabolic arch has also been used in Gothic architecture. In the 19th century, the parabolic arch was used in the construction of railway bridges.

The parabolic arch is advantageous because it can span large distances without the need for support. However, it is not as strong as other types of arches and is therefore not often used in load-bearing structures.

20. Pointed Arch

Pointed arch is an arch with a pointed apex. The earliest known examples of pointed arches are from the 11th century, and they became widespread in Europe by the 12th century. Pointed arches were used extensively in Gothic architecture.

How is pointed arch used?

Pointed arches are often used in Gothic Revival architecture. They are also used in Romanesque Revival, Neo-Gothic, and Neo-Romanesque architecture.

What are the benefits of pointed arch?

The benefits of pointed arch include:

-increased structural stability over a rounded arch

-ability to support heavier loads than a rounded arch

-aesthetics – the pointed apex can add a decorative element to the arch

What are the disadvantages of pointed arch?

The disadvantages of pointed arch include:

-Difficulty in constructing: the arches must be carefully shaped and supported during construction

-Increased weight: the extra weight of the pointed apex can put stress on the supporting structures

-Not suitable for all types of buildings: pointed arches are not well suited for buildings with horizontal lines, such as Classical or Renaissance architecture.

21. Rampant Arches

A rampant arch is a type of arch that has one end supported on a wall while the other end rests on a pier or column. This type of arch is often used in military architecture because it can support the weight of heavy artillery.

Rampant arches can be found in many different styles of architecture, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance. They are often decorated with moldings or other ornamental features.

22. Relieving Arch

A relieving arch is an arch constructed over an opening to take any lateral thrust of a superincumbent weight and thus relieve the pressure on the jambs.

23. Roman Arch

The Roman arch is a type of arch that was developed during the time of the Roman Empire. It is characterized by its semi-circular shape and use of voussoirs, which are wedge-shaped stones that fit together to form the arch.

24. Round Arch

A round arch is an arch with a circular shape.

Round arch has good resistance to thrust. This type of arch can be used to span large openings without the need for heavy support.

How to construct round arch?

The construction of a round arch begins with the erection of two piers or pillars. The two piers are connected by a keystone, which is the central stone at the top of the arch. The weight of the stones above the keystone pushes outwards, while the weight of the keystone itself keeps everything in place.

Once the keystone is in place, construction workers build up the rest of the arch using smaller stones. The smaller stones are placed in a radial pattern, with each stone slightly overlapping the one below it. This ensures that the arch will be stable and will not collapse.

Round arches were commonly used in Roman architecture and can still be seen in many buildings today.

25. Segmental Arch

A segmental arch is a type of arch that is composed of a series of wedges. Segmental arches can be found in a variety of locations, including bridges, aqueducts, and tunnels.

The segmental arch was first used during the Roman period. The Romans were the first to use this type of arch in a large-scale way, utilizing it in a variety of their construction projects.

The segmental arch is particularly well-suited for spans that are too wide to be spanned by a single stone. By using a series of wedges, the Romans were able to create an arch that could span much larger distances.

26. Semi-Circular Arch

The semicircular arch is an architectural element that is based on a half-circle. It’s one of the most basic types of arches, and is often found in doorways and windows.

The main advantage of the semi-circular arch is its stability. The weight of the structure above is evenly distributed across the entire arch, which means that it can support a lot of weight.

Semi-circular arches are also very aesthetic, and can add a lot of visual interest to a building. They’re often used in decorative architecture, such as Gothic Revival style.

27. Semi-Elliptical Arch

A semi-elliptical arch is an arch that is only partially elliptical in shape. There are two types of semi-elliptical arches: the true semi-elliptical arch and the false semi-elliptical arch.

The true semi-elliptical arch has a centerline that is perpendicular to the spring line, while the false semi-elliptical arch has a centerline that is not perpendicular to the spring line.

The true semi-elliptical arch is more commonly used in architecture and construction because it is stronger and more stable than the false semi-elliptical arch.

28. Shouldered Flat (Jack) Arch

A shouldered flat arch, also known as a Jack arch, is a type of arch used in architecture and construction. It is composed of a flat extradosed span with two angled shoulders that support the weight of the structure above it.

The shouldered flat arch was first developed in the early 19th century and has since been used extensively in a variety of applications. Its popularity is due to its simplicity, strength, and versatility.

29. Stilted Arch

A stilted arch is an arch that has been built upon a raised foundation or plinth. This type of arch is commonly seen in Gothic architecture, where it is used to support the weight of heavy stone walls and windows. Stilted arches can also be found in Romanesque and Renaissance buildings, though they are less common in these styles.

The stilted arch is a variation of the regular arch, and it is created by adding an extra layer of bricks or stone on top of the original foundation. This extra layer creates a taller, more dramatic archway that can be used to add height and grandeur to a building.

30. Three-Pointed Arch

A three-pointed arch is a type of arch that has three points, or vertices. It is also known as a trefoil arch. This type of arch is often used in Gothic architecture, as well as in Romanesque and Renaissance architecture. Three-pointed arches were commonly used in cathedrals, churches, and other large buildings.

Three-pointed arches are created by using two extradosed voussoirs, which are placed at the top of the arch. The center point of the arch is higher than the two outer points. This creates a sense of height and drama.

31. Trefoil Arch

What is trefoil arch?

Trefoil arch is an archway that has three lobes or foils. The trefoil arch is often used for decorative purposes, such as in Gothic architecture.

How is trefoil arch constructed?

The trefoil arch is constructed by placing two voussoirs, or wedge-shaped stones, at the top of the archway. The voussoirs are then held in place by an arch keystone.

32. Triangular Arch

A triangular arch is a type of arch that has three sides. It is often used in architecture and construction. Triangular arches can be found in bridges, buildings, and other structures. They are strong and can support a lot of weight.

Triangular arches are made from stone, brick, or concrete. They are usually decorated with carvings or other designs. Triangular arches are found in many different styles of architecture, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque.

33. Tudor Arch

The Tudor arch is a low, wide arch typical of English Late Gothic architecture. It is composed of a rounded extrados and an intrados with mouldings meeting in a point at the apex.

The Tudor arch was used extensively during the Tudor period in England (1485–1603) and Wales, especially for doorways and gateways in castles and monasteries.

Why is Tudor arch used?

The Tudor arch is often used for its aesthetic value, as it creates a sense of grandeur and majesty. Additionally, the arch is very strong and stable, making it ideal for use in architecture and construction.

34. Venetian Arch

The Venetian arch is a low, wide type of arch that was developed during the Renaissance in Venice, Italy. It is characterized by its segmental shape and by the use of engaged columns or pilasters on each side of the opening.

The Venetian arch became very popular during the 16th century and was used extensively in both secular and religious architecture.

One of the most notable examples of the Venetian arch is the Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace, in Venice.

This grand palace was built in the 14th century and features a number of Venetian arches throughout its facade. Other notable examples include the Porta della Carta at the Doge’s Palace and the Porta della Canonica at St. Mark’s Basilica.

Types of Arches by Materials

1. Brick arches

A brick arch is a type of arch constructed with bricks. Bricks are strong and durable, making them ideal for use in arches. Brick arches can be used to support the weight of a structure or to decorate the exterior of a building.

Brick arches come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common type of brick arch is the semicircular arch. This type of arch is often used in doorways and windows. Brick arches can also be pointed, segmental, or flat.

1.1. Axed brick arches

An axed brick arch is a type of brickwork where the bricks are cut to size and then laid in courses. The bricks are usually cut with a chisel and then an axe.

1.2. Gauged brick arches

Gauged brick arch is an arch made of bricks that have been cut to a consistent size and shape. The bricks are then placed in an orderly fashion and held together with mortar. This type of arch is often used in load-bearing walls and foundations.

1.3. Rough brick arches

Rough brick arch is an architectural element that consists of a semicircular arch made of bricks. This type of arch is often used in the construction of walls, vaults, and ceilings. The rough brick arch has many benefits including its strength, durability, and resistance to weathering.

2. Concrete Arches

A concrete arch is a structure that is made out of concrete. It is often used in the construction of bridges and tunnels. The arch is one of the oldest types of structures in the world. The first known example of an arch was built by the ancient Romans.

3. Steel Arches

A steel arch is a very popular type of arch. Steel arches are used in a variety of applications, including bridges, buildings, and other structures. Steel arches are made from steel that has been shaped into an arch. The steel is then welded or bolted together to form the final product.

There are many advantages to using steel arches. They are very strong and can support a lot of weight. Steel arches are also very durable and can last for many years. They are also low maintenance, which is another advantage.

There are some disadvantages to using steel arches as well. They can be expensive to purchase and install. Steel arches can also rust over time if they are not properly maintained.

4. Stone Arches

A stone arch is a natural span of stone that supports itself without the use of mortar or any other type of man-made support.

The stones that make up an arch are carefully cut and shaped so that they fit together snugly without the need for mortar. The weight of the stones is what keeps an arch from toppling over.

Types of Arches by Number of Centers

1. One Centered Arches

An one centered arch is an arch with its center at one joint. This type of arch can be found in doorways, lintels, and windows. An example of an one centered arch is a round top window.

2. Two Centered Arches

Two centered arch is an arch with two centers. Two centered arches are used in a wide variety of applications, including:

-Bridges

-Buildings

-Dams

-Tunnels

Two centered arches are stronger than one center arches and can span greater distances. However, they require more supports and are more expensive to build.

3. Three Centered Arches

Three centered arch is an arch with three centers. It is also called a “Florentine” or “Tuscan” arch. The three centered arch was first used by the Etruscans, and later adopted by the Romans and Italians. This type of arch is not very common in the United States.

4. Four Centered Arches

Four centered arch is an arch with four centers, which is the most common type of arch. It is also called a “true” or “regular” arch. The four centered arch has two intrados and two extrados curve. The height of the four centered arch is half the width of the opening.

5. Five Centered Arches

A five centered arch is an arch with its two outermost points located at the centers of the semicircular segments. The other three points are located at the midpoints of the sides of the triangle formed by the centers and the outermost points. This type of arch is sometimes also called a “quintuple” or “pentagon” arch.

The five centered arch was commonly used in the architecture of medieval Europe, particularly in Gothic architecture. It is also a popular choice for modern architects due to its aesthetic appeal and structural stability.

Five centered arches are strong and stable, making them a good choice for both load-bearing and decorative purposes.

Conclusion

There are many types of arches that can be used in architecture and construction. The most common include the segmental arch, the lintel arch, the jack arch, and the skewback arch. Each type has its own unique purpose and benefits. When choosing an arch for a project, it is important to consider the specific needs of the project and the desired look and feel. With so many options available, there is sure to be an arch that is perfect for your next project.