Lateral Thrust

Lateral thrust refers to the horizontal force exerted by an arch, dome, or other curved structure against its supports or surrounding elements. In architectural and engineering contexts, this sideways force is generated due to the inherent shape of curved structures, which can transmit external loads as well as the structure’s own weight outward in a horizontal direction. Managing and accommodating lateral thrust is crucial for ensuring the stability and integrity of such structures. In many cases, counteracting measures such as abutments, buttresses, or other support systems are employed to effectively absorb or redirect the lateral forces, preventing collapse or distortion of the curved elements. Lateral thrust considerations play a significant role in designing structures like arch bridges, domes, and other forms of curved architecture.