First European Summer School on Construction History CH.ESS 2011 in Cambridge

Group picture

Measuring vault


A tri-annual series of European Summer Schools on Construction History (CH.ESS) was organised in order to consolidate this young discipline within the university environment. Under leadership of the chair of construction history and structural preservation from BTU Cottbus a small international group of universities from Brussels, Wroclaw, Munich, Cambridge, Graz, Bologna and Madrid conjointly worked together. Each summer school was dedicated to a certain topic with the general aim to invite students and scholars to contribute to the intellectual debate and to improve their understanding of historical values of our built environment.

The 2011 the summer school in Cambridge was dedicated to "Conquering new spheres - Two millennia of vaults, domes and shells"

The first event focused on the design and construction of vaults, domes and shells - fundamental techniques in spanning horizontal space since many years. The two-week intensive programme consisted of lectures (from acknowledged experts), student presentations, workshops, excursions and field work involving the analysis of a relevant structure in cooperation with the local monument administration. The aim was not only to explore the wide range of technical aspects of vaults, domes and shells with a diachronic approach, but also to place such structures in their cultural, social and economic setting. A key ingredient of the programme was the development of analytical skills using instruments, documentary sources, drawings and surveys that the students can apply in their later academic and professional work.