Against Gravity

Hadi Safaeipour

Full Paper
Evolution from Squinch to Vault: Understanding Patkane Vaulting Essence through Analyzing Primitive Cases in Persian Architecture
Transition from a square base to a circular covering in dome chambers has been one of the most important formal-structural challenges in the history of architecture. Squinches as a solution to this problem were created as early as the late Parthian period and evolved into several related variations and techniques during later Islamic periods. One of the best-known squinch variations in Persian architecture is the patkâné, formed out of brick masonry tiers in a niche, where each tier projects from the course below.  This ‘cantilevered’ system has led to the invention of a series of complex vaults, a series that can hardly be classified as a single vaulting type because of its similarity to others. This study is aimed at gaining a comprehensive and genuine understanding of the essence of patkâné as a vaulting procedure. Accordingly, this paper reviews the historical background of the patkâné, analyzing a range of types from initial or simple ones to more complex cases. Data about these cases has been gathered by surveying selected examples, by in-depth interviews with masons, and by studying the limited available written references. Finally, analyses of the findings of a field survey, and of three-dimensional modeling of samples will reveal main characteristics and distinctive qualities of patkâné construction.