Segmental arch bricks according to the Ludwig system, around 1915

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 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek

A segmental arch permits the reduction of the constructional height, is solid and, therefore, less susceptible to fire and dampness than a wooden ceiling.

Before the era of concrete ceilings, the only way to build a solid ceiling was by means of brick or stone arches. A more affordable construction method came about in the mid 19th century through the fabrication of segmental arches spanning the space between walls or iron supports, about one to a maximum of two-and-a-half metres apart. They are called "Wiener Platzl" or "Preussische Kappe" and, until about 1920, were used mainly for access areas and cellars as well as in industrial constructions. Once positioned in rows between iron or steel supports, they were suitable as ceiling structure for larger rooms. Various specially shaped bricks, for example the “Doppelfalz- und Zackenziegel” (double-folded jagged brick) according to the system by Franz Ludwig, made it possible to further reduce the height of the curvature to only a few centimetres.

Sample bricks for this construction method, along with other products and equipment for the manufacture of bricks, were acquired by the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) from the "UNION-Baumaterialien-Gesellschaft" in 1916. The bricks, which were patented by Franz Ludwig, are shaped in such a way that, due to their profile, a stronger cohesion ensues between them - in pressure direction as well as across. The two hollow spaces reduce their weight. Until 1916, "Union-Baumaterialien-Gesellschaft" was the second largest manufacturer of bricks in the region of Vienna. In the same year, it sold its production to the market leader "Wienerberger Ziegelfabriks- und Baugesellschaft".

At a later stage, new ceiling constructions made from reinforced concrete, e.g. the systems of Monier, Hennebique or Visintini from Vienna, replaced the segmental arch ceiling as an economical alternative for a solid ceiling structure.



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