Published in Structural Analysis of Historical Constructions II, P. Roca, J.L. González, E. Oñate and P. B. Lourenço(Eds.), CIMNE, Barcelona, Spain, 1998
The study of ancient structures composed of stone arches and vaults requires the use of specific techniques of analysis endowed with powerful procedures for the modelling of geometry, the simulation of the mechanical response of the various materials (including ashlar blocks and masonry, backings and fills) and the simulation of the structure or may have affected it through history. More specifically, those techniques must be able to reproduce the actual conditions of thrust equilibrium between the large number of curved, linear or two-dimensional members involved.
The validity of several modelling techniques with a very different level of sophistication is studied through their use in the study of a particular Gothic construction: Barcelona Cathedral. The various techniques used were developed at the school of civil engineering of the technical university of Catalonia and have already been used in the analysis of a set historical constructions, including the Basilica of San Marco (Oñate et al., 1997) and the Crypt of the Colònia Güell (Roca, 1997).
The present study of Barcelona Cathedral, now under development, is thus not only aimed at gaining a better understanding of various aspects of the resistance of Gothic constructions (and the southern and Catalan Gothic, in particular) but also at appraising the possibilities and limitations of various analytical techniques.