What is a Spandrel?

A spandrel is the triangular space created between the outer curve of an arch and the framework enclosing it.


In the world of interior design and architecture, a spandrel plays a distinctive role in both structure and aesthetics. Traditionally found in arches, bridges, and domes, the spandrel is the roughly triangular space that forms between the curve of an arch and the rectangular boundary that frames it. While inherently a byproduct of arch construction, spandrels have evolved to become significant architectural features in their own right. They offer a unique canvas for ornamental design and are often embellished with artwork, carvings, or architectural motifs that enhance the overall appearance of a building.

Despite its ancient origins, the concept of a spandrel remains relevant in contemporary architecture and interior design. Modern interpretations can be found in various applications, from the intricate detailing on facades to subtle integrations within interior spaces. As such, carefully designed spandrels can contribute significantly to the depth and character of a space, adding both visual interest and historical context.

Understanding spandrels requires an appreciation for their dual role in construction and decoration. They not only fill the void between architectural elements but also present opportunities for creative expression, blending functionality with artistry.


A common instance where spandrels are utilized is in grand cathedrals or historical buildings, where the spaces between arches are often adorned with stunning artwork or complex stonework. In modern buildings, spandrels might be used more subtly, perhaps incorporating lighting features or acting as a backdrop for other decorative elements.


  • Can spandrels be found in modern architecture?

    Yes, spandrels continue to be a relevant feature in modern architecture, often incorporated in creative and subtle ways.

  • Are spandrels purely decorative?

    While spandrels often serve a decorative purpose, they are initially formed as a structural byproduct of constructing arches, making them significant in both aesthetics and architecture.

  • How are spandrels decorated?

    Spandrels can be decorated in a myriad of ways, including but not limited to artwork, carvings, architectural motifs, and even modern lighting fixtures.

Practical Application

When designing a space that includes arches or curved elements, consider the potential of spandrels as opportunities for added decoration or to introduce thematic continuity throughout the design. Incorporating art or consistent design motifs in spandrels can enrich the visual experience and add layers of depth to the architectural narrative.