One of the most beautiful architectural shapes is the barrel vault. With their curved planes and soaring effect, it’s easy to understand why barrel vaults have been so often employed throughout history. Also known as a tunnel vault or wagon vault, the graceful form of the barrel vault can be traced back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, but really came into prominence among the later Persian and Roman Empires. Iconic examples of barrel vaults include the ancient Basilica of Maxentius in Rome and Taq Kasra in Salman, Iraq, the Sistine Chapel, New Gourna Village in Egypt, and in the U.S., Union Station in Washington, D.C. and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

What Is a Barrel Vault?

Structurally, a barrel vault is the simplest type of vault — essentially a series of arches placed in succession. The effect is a lofty, semi-cylindrical shape that draws the eye toward the heavens. Although barrel vaults are aesthetically pleasing, interestingly, the ancients in Persia and Rome adopted the shape out of the need to use masonry for their roofs. Timber and wood were scarce in these regions, and a vaulted shape could better support the weight of the heavier materials. This strength also allowed for the spanning of far greater distances than post-and-beam construction.

Walkable Glass Floors, Skylights & Vaults Recycle Natural Daylight

Glass Barrel Vaults

One of the most striking ways to incorporate glass and daylight into an architectural project is to use it overhead, where the glass allows sunlight to stream into a space and connects those inside to the sky above. Barrel vaults open and provide height to a room, creating a sense of both intimacy and spaciousness at the same time. When a barrel vault is made of glass, the effect can be magnificent.

Circle Redmont has products to let you create beautiful glass barrel vaults. Both our 91R™ steel and glass pavers and our SolarWhite™ monolithic glass panels can be custom manufactured to your exact arc specifications, and because they are constructed in sections, there is no limit to the size of barrel vault we can manufacture.

Although we designed it as a paver product, our 91R™ Steel and Glass Pavers aren’t strictly for use underfoot. The panels can be customized to form the entire width of your barrel vault arch or arched sections to create a longer barrel. Constructed of heavy-duty steel with your choice of four-, six-, or eight-inch glass paver sections, in 6’’ x 8’’, 6’’ x 10’’, or 6 x 12’’ rectangular sections, or in custom sizes, the 91R™ makes a beautiful architectural statement when used in vaults anywhere — in commercial, transit, government, hospitality, and other settings. We offer a variety of glass options and steel finishes for a truly custom result. Customized 91R™ panels were used prominently to create a barrel vault over the outdoor walkways of the famous Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Circle Redmont’s SolarWhite™ system, with an aluminum framework and traditional hollow glass blocks, is also a suitable and attractive option for creating barrel vaults that will wow your clients. SolarWhite™ panels are thermally efficient, require virtually no maintenance, and are a cost-effective way to create a beautiful translucent barrel vault effect.

Several standard glasses are available, but the size and transparency of the block squares in our SolarWhite™ are customizable. Furthermore, the aluminum frames are available in a variety of colors and finishes including non-directional, primed, standard gloss white, and custom colors. Our SolarWhite™ product was used to create a beautiful translucent multi-story barrel vault at Arizona State University in Tempe.

When you want to make a lofty statement for a client, a barrel vault always delivers the “wow” factor. Circle Redmont is ready to be your glass design partner.