How to build a brick vault roof

Courtesy of a link at Dark Roasted Blend, I found these video clips on the construction of vaulted brick roofs in the Catalan region of Spain.  I find it remarkable how the curved structure allows the bricks to support each other, even when the roof isn’t complete.  The second video clip has closed captioning, so if you turn it on, you can read English subtitles of the Spanish conversation.

I love the speed and ease with which the bricklayers work. I wonder how long it took for them to develop such nonchalant familiarity with the technique?  And I wonder how old it is?  It may have been in use for centuries.



  1. The long term developed skill to hand cut the bricks to fit an ever changing radius is amazing. I'm sure the vault will withstand a fair amount of weight but then again they don't get a lot of snow in Catalonia!

  2. Amazing. Cool. And interesting. The things that struck me most, in no particular order:
    Amazingly casual and "sloppy" in the sense that they are taking no particular care to not have lots of mortar dripping and dropping everywhere, or filling the gaps between bricks very completely, or anything. The mortar is amazing thin and liquid, and stickier than any I have ever worked with. The bricks are amazingly easy to chip and shape – likely easy to work with, but very fragile and may not be very earthquake resistant.

  3. Wow! The designs and the process look really intricate. Yet the end result looks amazing. One question though, how do they waterproof the entire roof? Or does the sealant in between the bricks already serve as waterproof material for the roof not to leak during rains?

    Gwendolyn Yates

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