The four arches are two bricks thick while the dome is only one brick. Plaster of Paris is the only binding agent.

"interior" view of the vault

stringently-controlled load testing revealed that the dome easily carried a distributed load of 1,200 lbs.

methods were derived from Guastavino's own means of load-testing

under construction


underside, again



Even though no english language manuals of timbrel vault construction exist, MIT student Michael Ramage spent a weekend building a small vault of his own.Michael's vault spans six feet by six feet and though it was his first attempt to build a masonry vault, he finished it in only one weekend.

Several fruits of the effort included a paper describing the process, a movie which details the construction process and structural experimentation. The movie can be viewed in quicktime format and the text downloaded as a pdf.

Quicktime Movie of Vault Construction (Quicktime 1.5M)

Construction of a Catalan Vault Process (pdf)

Construction of a Catalan Vault Text (pdf)

Digital model of vault (dxf)

For more information you may contact Michael directly (