Analysis of the section of Palma Cathedral

Structural typology: Existing
Completed: July, 2012
Owner: Cabildo de la Catedral de Palma de Mallorca
Scope: Structural Diagnosis

The columns of Palma de Mallorca Cathedral the most slender of the Gothic worldwide showed incurvations in the cross section plan as well as some other damage (vertical cracks among others). Its study was needed in order to establish the director plan of the Cathedral. There were also some disorders in the flying buttresses.

In order to give an answer to this problem an analytical study of the cross sections structural behaviour was carried out. The mechanical behaviour of the masonry had to be characterized, because without recognizing the masonries and their resistant capacity, the degree of stability of the columns could not have been determined.

From this point of view it has been very useful to observe how the knowledge developed for the concrete structures, specially everything related to the second order effects analysis, has allowed the study of a mansonry structure like this one. Definitively, it is a good example of the way in which the solution of one structural material can be applied to other materials, allowing solving problems which are even quite frequent.

The structural analysis allowed an estimation of the safety of the columns expressed in terms of relation between failure and acting excentricities. The safety level determined was considerate to be adequate. In this study, the importance of the consideration of the construction process has been shown. Regarding the flying buttresses, its analysis required fairly simple tools (stability and tensional verification with no-tension materials). This study concluded that the stability of these elements will not be compromised as long as there are no movements in the abutments.

In any case, the necessity of developing and intelligent monitoring plan was observed in order to follow and control the evolution of the most significant parameters.

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