Pointed Arch (Architecture)
Mr. Naveed Sheikh
Materials and Construction
2nd Semester, Architecture
April 16th, 2013
An arch is an architectural structure which helps support a structure and the weight above that structure. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture. The systematic use of Arches started with ancient Romans. They were the first to have applied the techniques of arch to a wide range of structures.
Pointed arch is one of the most important types of Arches. It is an arch with a pointed apex.
Another name for pointed arch is “ogival arch”. ‘Ogive’ means a pointed curve. Today, the pointed arch remains a common feature in the European churches. It is a very important feature of European Gothic architecture and Islamic Architecture. The question is where did the pointed arch originate from?
Early historians of architecture such as Havell (1913) and Rivoira (1914) thought that the pointed arch occurred in India carved out of a solid block of some seventh century temples. However, this information has been dismissed by a famous historian, Hill (1993). Hill believed the Muslim origin of the invention of the pointed arch, which is today, believed to be the truth.
Before the discovery of Pointed arches, round arches and barrel vaults were used to make ceilings. These arches had a great weight. Another problem faced with the use of round arches in the churches was, the issues with the shape and weight distribution. For making round arches over a church bay, the bay had to be square in shape because if two sides of a bay measured one width and tow of the other sides measure another width, the tops of the arches across these widths would not be at the same height. Rounded arches could not support the increased height, width and weight of new building designs. Similarly, problems were raised with the use of vaults. Pointed Arches solved these problems. Pointed arches were used to help support the