Arches in Interior Design: Reimagining the Classical Shape

CEO Khai Intela
PENTHOUSE / P-M-A-A. Image Arches have been a prominent architectural feature dating back to ancient civilizations. From their practical use as structural elements to their aesthetic appeal, arches have evolved and found their place in...

Arches in Interior Design PENTHOUSE / P-M-A-A. Image

Arches have been a prominent architectural feature dating back to ancient civilizations. From their practical use as structural elements to their aesthetic appeal, arches have evolved and found their place in interior design. In this article, we explore the fascinating journey of arches and how they have been reimagined in modern projects.

Evolution of Arches

Arches in Interior Design

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The Roman civilization played a crucial role in solidifying arches as both engineering elements and symbols of military victories. Different civilizations and cultures adopted arches for their own purposes, combining structural necessity with aesthetics. Over time, various arch forms emerged, each with its own significance. The semicircular arch was favored by the Romans for bridges and grand structures, while the pointed arch gained prominence in religious and grandiose structures. Gothic architecture introduced vaults and segmental arches optimized bridge constructions during the Middle Ages. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the use of Catenary arches brought about a new era of architectural exploration. Today, arches continue to be manipulated and adapted, embracing new styles and functions.

Arches in Interior Design Arches in Interior Design

Structural Advantages

Since ancient times, arches have been relied upon for their structural abilities. Compared to lintels and horizontal beams, arches offer several advantages. They can be assembled with smaller materials and are capable of spanning wider openings. The pressure traveling downwards pushes the stones forming the arch (voussoirs) together and downwards towards the vertical supports, distributing the weight more efficiently. In modern adaptive reuse projects, arches and vaults have been rehabilitated, maintaining their structural purposes while adding a contemporary finish.

Library, Museum and Community Center ‘De Petrus’ / Molenaar&Bol&vanDillen Architects De Petrus

  • Image © Stijn Poelstra

Samna Restaurant / YOD Group Samna Restaurant

  • Image © Andrey Bezuglov

Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp / KAAN Architecten Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp

  • Image © Karin Borghouts

Façade Openings

Arched doors and windows have been preserved in several adaptive reuse projects, seamlessly blending historical elements with contemporary design. This juxtaposition creates a visual contrast between traditional warmth and familiarity and modern edginess and dynamism. Arched openings add a touch of animation to the façade and overall structure of residential and commercial projects. Architects have described arched windows and doors as a "child-friendly approach," adding curved walls and a unique window for each child.

Empire Stores / S9 Architecture Empire Stores

  • Image Courtesy of S9 Architecture

FRISTO, Frozen Market / EFEEME arquitectos FRISTO, Frozen Market

  • Image © Gonzalo Viramonte

Valetta House / Office S&M Valetta House

  • Image © French + Tye

Arched Interior Walls and Partitions

Arched interior walls and partitions have become a popular design feature. With their remarkable load-bearing capabilities, arches create a soft intervention that connects two spaces while maintaining their boundaries. The design allows for a seamless flow between rooms without disrupting the overall structure.

NUBO Kindergarten / PAL Design NUBO Kindergarten

  • Image © Michele Young, Amy Piddington

Flagship Store Mietis / Evvo Retail Flagship Store Mietis

  • Image © Nerea Garro

Golden Age Wine / David Baker Architects Golden Age Wine

  • Image © Rob Culpepper

SSAB Flagship Store / Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio SSAB Flagship Store

  • Image © Vlad Patru

Samna Restaurant / YOD Group Samna Restaurant

  • Image © Andrey Bezuglov

Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort, Phase 02 / onion Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort

  • Image © Wworkspace

Motifs on Walls

In space-limited projects, designers create "false walls" in front of existing ones to create a dual-space effect and an illusion of depth. These false walls differ in scale and finish, emphasizing the contrast between the two. While decorative or conceptual in nature, they do not bear the weight of the ceiling, allowing for creative freedom in design.

ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design ARKA Flower Shop

  • Image © Dmitriy Sergienko

Flagship Store Mietis / Evvo Retail Flagship Store Mietis

  • Image © Nerea Garro

Garden Tour / PADSTUDIO Garden Tour

  • Image © Rongkun Chen

Architectural Installations

Arched installations make a powerful first impression and serve as inviting structures that establish visual continuity and provide a sense of direction. Pointed arches guide the eye upwards, creating a sense of embrace and connection between the structure and visitors.

XYTS Shop / WGNB XYTS Shop

  • Image Courtesy of WGNB

Installation by Diebedo Francis Kere Installation by Diebedo Francis Kere

  • Image © James Harris

Arcades by Troika Arcades by Troika

  • Image Courtesy of Troika

Furniture and Accessories

Designers pay homage to historic architecture by incorporating arches into furniture, accessories, and ornaments. These smaller-scale design features add a sense of structural stability and timelessness to interior spaces.

Agora Office / SCEG Architetti Agora Office

  • Image © Barbara Corsico

ARKA Flower Shop / Maly Krasota Design ARKA Flower Shop

  • Image © Dmitriy Sergienko

Ulupinar Textile Headquarters Showroom / Zemberek Design Ulupinar Textile Headquarters Showroom

  • Image © Ibrahim Ozbunar

Arches as Architecture

Arches are not only incorporated within interior spaces but also form the architectural identity of certain projects. Extended arches and barrel vaults create an uninterrupted perspective, connecting the interior with the surrounding landscape. Additionally, arched architecture facilitates air circulation and is often used as a conceptual reference to historical structures.

OFMA Offices in a Vineyard / MAPAA OFMA Offices in a Vineyard

  • Image © Pablo Cassals Aguirre

Terraces of Manantiales / MSGSSV Terraces of Manantiales

  • Image Courtesy of MSGSSV

Bewboc House / Fabian Tan Architect Bewboc House

  • Image © Ceavs Chua

Sforza House / Taller de Arquitectura X / Alberto Kalach Sforza House

  • Image © Alex Krotkov

3D Printing Concrete House / Professor XU Weiguo‘s team from the Tsinghua University School of Architecture 3D Printing Concrete House

  • Image Courtesy of XWG Archi Studio at Tsinghua University

Discover more projects that feature arches in architecture and interior spaces in the My ArchDaily folder curated by the author.

This article is part of an ArchDaily series that explores the features of interior architecture. We highlight how architects and designers around the world utilize new elements, characteristics, and signatures in their interior spaces. We value the input of our readers, so if you have specific ideas or suggestions, please feel free to submit them.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 05, 2021.

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