Online international symposium 'Brick vaults and beyond'

The transformation of a historical structural system_ Brussels April 29 & 30, 2021

Dome of the Congo museum under construction (1906) © Charles Girault archives at RMCA Tervuren collection

Dome of the Royal Museum for Central Africa under restoration (ORIGIN Architecture & Engineering © Tim Fisher)

Application of tile vaults in the Saint-Francois-Xavier church in Anderlecht © Paula Fuentes

Droneport by Norman Foster, Venice Biennale, 2016

Vaults have been historically regarded as the ideal structure to span imposing spaces in representative and monumental buildings. Several studies have been devoted to the topic worldwide and cover the evolution of vaulting from antiquity to the progressive abandonment of vaults in the 18th century. Yet, also in the following centuries interesting evolutions in vaulting techniques took place as they were extensively used in historicism and attempts were made to adapt vaults to modern architecture. How did the changing architectural styles and functional needs, together with the introduction of new construction materials in the 19th and 20th centuries such as iron, steel and reinforced concrete, transform vaulting techniques?

This symposium 'Brick vaults and beyond', organised online in Brussels on April 29 & 30, 2021 brought together international architects, historians, engineers, preservationists interested in construction and architectural history whose contributions add to the understanding of the development of the vaulting techniques during this fascinating period. The program and book of abstracts can be viewed below. The open access book publication can be downloaded in high and low resolution here. Some of the presentations can be viewed online:  

Paula Fuentes_The birth of tile vaulting in Belgium: the Royal Museum for Central Africa (15 min.)

Robin Engels_The restoration of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (20 min.)

Day 2-Part 2 with lectures by Santiago Huerta, Ignacio Javier Gil Crespo, Ana Rodriguez, Paula Fuentes and Rosana Guerra


This event is funded by the EU H2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Action and co-organised by Paula Fuentes and Ine Wouters from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and

Project Files