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In 2021, Architects Are Rethinking the “Arch” in Architecture

Celebrate a Decade of Inspirational Design with us! Architizer’s 10th Annual A+Awards program launches this fall — sign up to receive key program updates and deadline reminders.

Arches have been a key element in architecture across the world since prehistoric times. Their first use goes back to the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations and they were later popularized by the Romans. Arches have been used in triangular, semicircular, horseshoe, parabolic, trefoil and flat versions, to name a few. Every type of structure from a church to an aqueduct can be constructed and enhanced using arched elements. The versatility of this geometry is limitless. 

Designers are constantly finding innovative ways to transform the arch from an element that is purely structural to something that is more decorative and stylistic as well. The following projects showcase a few such attempts. 

 Tagh Behesht by Rvad Studio, Mashhad, Iran Tagh Behesht by Rvad Studio, Mashhad, IranTagh Behesht by Rvad Studio, Mashhad, Iran
Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Commercial – Unbuilt Commercial

The project takes inspiration from the rows of arches and vaults found in traditional bazaars in Iran. The structure’s location positions it as an ideal urban hub and provides a new way of looking at urban spaces. The building houses a layered garden, connected by open staircases, that is enveloped by walls with arched fenestrations to allow natural light, wind circulation and visual connectivity.

Powered by Ulsteinvik by Kaleidoscope, Ulsteinvik, Norway

arch Powered by Ulsteinvik by Kaleidoscope, Ulsteinvik, Norway

Images by KVANT-1 and Kaleidoscope

Powered by Ulsteinvik by Kaleidoscope, Ulsteinvik, Norway
Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Concepts – Architecture + Models & Rendering

The structure’s façade is a three-dimensional lattice of upright and inverted arches. This housing complex, which is one part of the proposal, is designed to collect rainwater that is used by residents to water the plants in the balconies.

arch Hotel Milla Montis by Peter Pichler Architecture, Maranza, Italy Hotel Milla Montis by Peter Pichler Architecture, Maranza, ItalyHotel Milla Montis by Peter Pichler Architecture, Maranza, Italy

Pitchforks used by farmers in the village were the primary inspiration for the façade. Inverted arches span over two levels to create an exoskeleton for the balconies. The ground floor follows the same language with angled arches.

arch Brush House by Leeton Pointon Architects + Interiors, Melbourne, Australia Brush House by Leeton Pointon Architects + Interiors, Melbourne, AustraliaBrush House by Leeton Pointon Architects + Interiors, Melbourne, Australia

The use of arches in this project complements the fluid profile of the overall structure. The largest arch helps hollow out the structural mass and allows light to penetrate. Curved openings and recesses throughout the house help tie the entire design together.

Low-tech offices in Kortrijk by C+S Architects, Kortrijk, Belgium arch Low-tech offices in Kortrijk by C+S Architects, Kortrijk, Belgium archLow-tech offices in Kortrijk by C+S Architects, Kortrijk, Belgium

This proposal aims to achieve a sustainable design without using additions like solar panels or high-tech glass façades. The team used brick for the construction as the brick industry was an integral part of the city’s economy at the end of the 19th century. Arched fenestrations are added to thick insulating walls that create a strong connection to the large void within.

House of Many Arches by 24d-studio, Kobe, Japan arch House of Many Arches by 24d-studio, Kobe, JapanHouse of Many Arches by 24d-studio, Kobe, Japan

While renovating this 35-year-old home, the design studio used arch-like openings as transitions from one room to another, also allowing light to flow freely throughout the space. The painted undersides of these entryways give a unique character to each space and help each room become an extension of the other.

Venecia 20 by Inca Hernandez, Juárez, Mexico Venecia 20 by Inca Hernandez, Juárez, Mexico archVenecia 20 by Inca Hernandez, Juárez, Mexico

The proposed renovation of this house in Mexico combines Porfiriato, Mexican modernism and contemporary styles to create a sanctuary for artists, writers and tourists. Several catenary arches within the design are a nod to renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The housing units within are designed as flexible spaces that strike the perfect balance between seclusion and connectivity.

SDC by Takeru Shoji Architects.Co.,Ltd., Niigata, Japan SDC by Takeru Shoji Architects.Co.,Ltd., Niigata, Japan archSDC by Takeru Shoji Architects.Co.,Ltd., Niigata, Japan

This dental clinic has an external envelope with low arched cutouts that create a buffer between the exterior and the internal glass walls. This helps protect the interior spaces from the harsh weather and also creates a sense of privacy while allowing the visitors to freely look outside.

Dujiangyan Zhongshuge by X+LIVING, Dujiangyan, China Dujiangyan Zhongshuge by X+LIVING, Dujiangyan, China archDujiangyan Zhongshuge by X+LIVING, Dujiangyan, China
Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Commercial – Retail

Straight out of a booklover’s dream, this library features curved shelves and intertwining partitions to create a surreal experience for readers and shoppers alike. Arches of different sizes are used not only as openings but also as spatial dividers, making the entire bookshop feel like an endless maze.

Celebrate a Decade of Inspirational Design with us! Architizer’s 10th Annual A+Awards program launches this fall — sign up to receive key program updates and deadline reminders.

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