Construction 32: Connection between arches and vaults

16/09/12 | ۩ |

One of the trickiest phase of the Domus construction starts with this post. Now that arches and vaults are all built, I need to put the necessary finishing touches to perfectly assemble every piece: arches to vaults, vaults and arches to walls and pillars.

Since the construction of the first cross vault, I realized that the hardest part of the work would have come at the end. So I thought about a way to avoid irregularities along the joinings after the final closing of the basement.

When the ceiling will be placed, working from the outside to correct any error would be impossible. What's more, even reaching some part with a small brush and grout to retouch mistakes that must remain, I would do it over barnished and "aged" surfaces, making more evident the contrast with the rest of structures.

At first my intention was to finish every piece, assembling the vaults gradually over the walls. Proceeding that way would not be easy because of the working space, smaller and smaller to the last piece. I should focus on the visible parts, overlooking the hided corners...

I've got the idea of joining together arches and vaults to later set up the ceiling in three or four pieces while I was adjusting two arches to make them match.
Assembling the six vaults of the cellar area with their seven arches would convert 13 pieces in one single piece. So I could easily finish its inner surface, leaving the joints between vaults and walls to a later moment.

This is how I proceed:
After placing arches and vaults, I put a thin coat of glue over the joints. When it's dry I carefully raise the ceiling, then I turn it upside down to verify that everything is at the right place. Actually, I need to unglue one of the arches moving it to a new position.

Three vaults still have a lack of grout, but as I'll use again cement to fill the joints, I decide to speed up this phase grouting the whole ceiling.
This is not a good idea because the big amount of water soften the Das, making the entire structure very fragile and subjected to deformations.
To fix the problem I place the vaults back over the Domus under a light weight and I let dry.

When grout is finally dry it's time to clean the inner surface with sandpaper and a hook to reach all the corners. A few cracks are visible, caused by dampness. The solidity of the structure (now perfectly dry) is not compromised, and I think it gives an unexpected realistic touch to the vault.
Of course, on a real brick vault I'd be forced to pull it down and rebuild it again!
Anyway, to give the piece more resistance (because now it's really a single piece), I spread the extrados with glue, now with abundant brush strokes, and I let it dry again.

Now the basement looks better, no light filters from the vaults to the inside. Just a line between the ceiling and the walls is visible.
A few more steps and the construction of the cellar will be completed.

Oops, what am I saying? There is still the other half of the ceiling!
I was deceiving myself...
In the meantime, satisfied with my work, I can take some night shots in this almost "accessible" part of the cellar ... 


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