Difference between Vault and Dome

Vault and dome are two completely different architectural concepts and structures. Both are originated by an arch, but, in the case of the dome, it is broken on itself and in the vaults it is projected horizontally. The generatrix of the dome is formed by a single rotating arch while the vault can have several intersecting arches.


The term vault comes from the Latin Volta or Volvita. It is a surface construction element made in masonry or fabric in which its parts and components work under compression. The vaults have a geometric shape generated by the movement of a generating arch along an axis. It serves to cover the space between two aligned walls or pillars.

To build them, the thickness or resistance of the adjacent walls must be ascertained in order to know if they can withstand the lateral thrust generated by the vaults they are going to support. On their surface they have nerves in which the lines of thrust are directed and concentrated. It is found in arcaded squares, cathedrals, cloisters, in the subway, mining and underground galleries.


It is an architectural element that is used to cover a circular, square, elliptical or polygonal space by means of arches with a parabolic, semicircular or ovoid profile that rotate with respect to a central point of symmetry.

The word dome comes from the Italian cupola, the Latin cupella and the Greek kupellon. The dome can take various forms depending on the construction method and traditions. It varies depending on the shape of the plant and the profile according to the conical figure used:

  • Baida (or Vaida).
  • Semi-ellipsoid with elliptical plan.
  • half ellipsoid.
  • Semi-hyperboloid with a circular plan.
  • Semi-hyperboloid with elliptical plan.
  • Semi paraboloid with a circular plan.
  • Semi paraboloid with elliptical plan.
  • Hemispherical.

Differences between vault and dome

  • In the dome the arch royo on itself.
  • In the vault the arch is projected horizontally tracing a curve.
  • The generatrix of the dome forms a rotating arc.
  • The vault uses several arches that intersect in its projection.
  • The dome has its own constructive laws and has a different identity.

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