Graphical Construction Glossary >> masonry. >> arch >> Relieving Arch

Relieving Arch
An arch designed to take the weight of masonry above it off another arch or lintel.

slate relieving arches

The type of stone used in the building above is not available in large pieces suitable for lintels so the mason used the materials at hand. He used relieving-arches above the windows to take the weight of the stonework above, and then used flat arches as lintels over the windows.

a brick relieving arch

A slightly different arch and lintel layout seen in Bruges. This is an often used feature over window and door heads. Apart from a decorative effect, there is a very practical reason for this arrangement. The wall is quite thick and if a simple rectangular lintel was used the amount of daylight reaching the interior of the building would be severely restricted. As it is the combination of the two arches and the bevel to the edge of the stone lintel allows a lot of extra light into the room.
The segmental arch is ideal for this type of work as there is little masonry underneath it for the window head or lintel to support.

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