W2016 – Day 11 – Last efforts


We all love it!!

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Today being the second-to-last day of the workshop, we were to complete the final steps of the design. This included both, lifting the roof and painting the prototype. We were slowly beginning to realize that the roof would be too heavy to be supported on two thin points of the walls. Muthu confirmed our suspicion when he said, “There needs to be a pillar in the centre to support this”.

In the morning, as soon as everyone gathered, we lifted the roof together. It was quite the task to get it into place but as soon as it was up, the prototype looked complete and the workers exclaimed, “The design is very beautiful!”. After this we began to mix the cements with the pigments and to mix the colours and begin mixing.

After the break, we continued to document the work by taking interviews and pictures of all the workers and students alike. Many of us began to realise what exactly we learnt through the entire workshop and began to reflect on many mistakes and misconceptions that occurred. Tomorrow being the last day, we have a few site visits planned and of course more group pictures!

W2016 – Day 10 – Assembling


The toilet prototype is almost finished…:)

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Today was the day we were all anticipating. The day of the assembly. In the morning, when we arrived at the work site, we found a small pick-up van waiting for us. The workers began loading the first two walls onto the truck only to find that a crack had developed on one of the walls while lifting. The walls were really not designed to be carried in a horizontal orientation. However, slowly in three trips, we got all the pieces without excessive damage to the site of assembly.

At Sonali’s yard, one group continued to work on the Fullfill Homes’ windows while the other helped with the assembly. Once the walls came up, we realised that holding them together was going to be challenging. Currently, they are held together by a temporary bent bar of steel, but the falling apart of the walls was one problem we hadn’t truly visualised. So tomorrow, before the roof goes up, and before the paint goes on, we will need to find a solution to ensure complete stability of the structure.

W2016 – Day 9 – Learning more and more


The beauty is in the simplicity! – Jean Pougeault, Engineer

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Today was the first day that Sonali took charge of the workshop. First thing in the morning, we were at the workshop of Engineer Jean Pougeault in front of the Matrimandir. Every passing minute, he continued to impress us with his knowledge and went on to show us innovation after innovation. But the raw engineering that caught our attention was just as beautiful as it was ingenious. “The beauty is in the simplicity!”, he exclaimed in his thick French accent. Later he took us into the Matrimandir and showed us various trapdoors and hidden chambers that the common visitor would never get to see or perhaps even notice. After three hours of observing and learning, we thanked Jean for his enthusiastic guidance around the area and went on to have lunch.

In the afternoon, we went straight to Sonali’s house in order to check on the workers who had already begun working on the foundation for the toilet. The spot was already chosen beside the Fullfill Home Prototype. We continued to discuss the various colouring options and Maria made some coloured sketches to visualise the options. Tomorrow, we will begin to colour the ferrocement pieces and begin transporting them to the site of assembly.

Slowly we are inching towards the end of the workshop, and so far everything has gone really well. Tomorrow being the assembly, we will have to do some heavy-lifting but it will be great to see the erection after one week of hard work!

W2016 – Day 8 – Colours


Yes, in Tamil Nadu, we like bright colours! -Muthulingam

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Today we began the second week of the workshop by splitting up into two groups, one who made a visit to the Matrimandir, and the other who checked on the situation at the workshop.

Once we were all gathered at the workshop we began discussing colours for the parts of the toilet. Looking at the palette that was prepared in advanced, we all decided on pink. Later, Muthulingam said, “Yes, in Tamil Nadu, we like bright colours!”. He was quite excited when he mentioned, “Pink is a good idea”. And so we confirmed that the combination pink, green and white would be used for most parts.

After lunch, we gathered at the Wall House for a presentation by Anupama on ferrocement. It was interesting to analyse where the technology began and how it was taken forward in Auroville. Since it was her last day, we asked her some final questions and agreed to meet again in Madrid for the final sessions of reflection on the whole workshop.

W2016 – Day 7 – Sunday Sunset


Visiting the amazing temples of Mahabalipuram!!!

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“After working hard all of this week to get each piece refined and cast, we took Sunday off to see the magnificent temples of Mahabalipuram. Comparing them to our own ferrocement experiments, we learnt that these temples are entirely formed out of the existing materials in the area. The temples are monolithic yet finely carved and crafted. It was a fantastic experience to see these temples in all of their glory and stay until the sun set on the horizon.” (Claire Bazeley, Student)

Meanwhile, back on site our hardworking masons continue to realise our prototype. They used the now complete roof module to cast the sink, and remade the two doors as finer pieces. By using only chicken wire, it is possible to reduce the thickness of a ferrocement piece from 2.5 to as little as 1.25 cm as the concrete does not need to cover the thicker reinforcing bars.

We now have only the last wall piece to plaster before the assembly can begin.

W2016 – Day 6 – A busy day


Many exciting things were happening at the same time…

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This morning, in spite of being two people lesser than usual due to illness, many exciting things were happening at the same time. The next two walls were being cast, the floor was already being cured, and the roof was finally ready for demoulding.

 The floor had a slight error when it was cast but was easily fixed by the workers by using an electric saw. Luckily we spotted the error before the floor was fully cured which made fixing the error easier.

 Next it was time to lift and demould the roof. Muthu spent at least half an hour trying to make sure that the roof was not stuck to the mould. When it was finally unattached, we lifted the roof together successfully. There were a few cracks and some of the steel was exposed but it was still in one piece. On the other hand, a piece of the mould came along with the roof and hence the roof mould was damaged.

 Tomorrow, we will demould the second wall and hopefully it turns out to be as easy as the first wall.

W2016 – Day 5 – Demoulding


The first piece!!!

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This morning we were quite excited because it was the first time a piece was completed and was ready for demoulding. The first wall piece came up quite easily and contrary to our fears, didn’t stick to the mould at all. We then left it to cure with moist mud on top of it.

But immediately after this, we were faced with our first difficulty of the day which was the design of the sink and how to cast the sink using the mould of the roof since they were similar in shape. We came up with various design solutions for the sink and finally all agreed on one that we liked and one that could be casted using the roof piece as a mould instead of the mould itself.

After solving multiple problems of the roof and the floor, the roof was left to cure for another day and we began to plaster cement onto the floor cage.

W2016 – Day 4 – Testing Ferrocement


Flexional, torsional and impact forces

Day 4_03_Affordable Habitat_Anupama Kundoo_UCJC Winter Workshop 2016_Akshid RajendranDay 4_02_Affordable Habitat_Anupama Kundoo_UCJC Winter Workshop 2016_Akshid RajendranThe morning has started with the visit of Luis Feduchi, dean of the UCJC architecture school, and his team. We have done different mechanical tests in a finished ferrocement piece of the toilet prototype to understand its behaviour.

The test has consisted of subjecting the piece to flexional, torsional and impact forces. The impact test has been one with particular interest to discover how the ferrocement acts in terms of security.

The piece we have tested today has three layers of chicken net and a perimetral steel reinforcement and has satisfactorily responded the aimed results, which we can summarise in:

ADVANTAGES OF FERROCEMENT COMPARED WITH CONCRETE

1.High flexibility of the model because the charge is always homogeneously distributed in the hole surface.

2.The impact is absorbed in the center of the piece avoiding the extension of the fracture.

3.Good quotes of security even suffering extending damage.

4.Shedding material into small pieces, with little or no risk.

5.Ferrocement is similar in its behaviour to laminated glass; in the form of fracturing; in its flexibility; and in the fact that the midpoint is even stronger than the perimeter.

Day 4_01_Affordable Habitat_Anupama Kundoo_UCJC Winter Workshop 2016_Akshid RajendranThe day has ended with the setting-out and execution of the soil piece, which has sparked an intense debate about the transmission of its weight to the ground.

The cover of the toilet prototype has just been completed and now is ready to be cured.

W2016 – Day 3 – Steel Matters


In such a structure, is it better to use more steel or less? – Anupama Kundoo, Director of the Workshop

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The roof model was finished when we arrived at the work place. The most interesting thing that they set fire to the model to speed up the curing of the cement. It is beneficial to save time in this manner as the mould doesn’t require as much strength as the actual roof.

The roof model was finished when we arrived at the work place. The most interesting thing that they set fire to the model to speed up the curing of the cement. It is beneficial to save time in this manner as the mould doesn’t require as much strength as the actual roof.

On the other hand we noticed that we were using too much steel in one of the wall pieces and Anupama put the following question on the table: “In such a structure, is it better to use more steel or less?” We debated and hence concluded that it is better to use a chicken mesh and less steel. This makes it safer during disaster relief because the cement intertwines with the steel and hence doesn’t crumble. Moreover, the steel corrodes easily when used in such a thin structure.

We had also done an experiment on a piece of weak ferrocement wall to observe the way it breaks when force is acted upon it. The main observation was that the pieces breaking off were too large to be considered safe. We then inferred that the mesh used in this case was too large in size. In the current wall, the mesh size has been changed and in the future, we will be experimenting further with various meshes to see how they react.

Finally we had the pleasure to interact and have a discussion with Engineer Jean Pougeault helped us address many of the questions we were tackling. He affirmed the conclusions we had made about the steel. Furthermore, he gave us multiple ideas to work with regarding the door. He agreed with Xisco’s idea of using a pipe to reinforce the pivot of the door to the roof and we will be further resolving the door in the coming days.

W2016 – Day 2 – 1:1 Scale


Understanding technical aspects through 1:1 on-site drawings

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Students began today to finalise the formwork for a member of the ferrocement modules of the toilet prototype. Real scale drawings act as a good tool for understand and communicate the idea on the building site.

“By drawing 1:1 measurements in chalk on the floor we were better able to communicate with our masons, refine our forms & discussions and ultimately grapple with the realities of producing each piece.” (Claire Bazeley, Student)

W2016 – Day 1 – Landing in Auroville

 


Again in Auroville working inside the full fill prototype!!!

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Students has just come from Spain landing in the ground reality very fast.

Inside the prototype we built last year in Chennai and then rebuilt in Auroville we have already started to understand the possibilities of ferrocement and the way of producing it.

“Today was our first day on site in Auroville and the first (second and maybe third) of many challenges to come. While we cannot match the masons for their skills, we have found an equally important role in insuring the ideas we have are realised. We are learning to work with the possibilities of ferrrocement and the mistakes we have made and will make will only better teach us how this material is formed and how it functions.” (Claire Bazeley, Student)

This year we are going to build in ferrocement a 1:1 toilet prototype assuming that its a fundamental part to implement in the housing system “full fill homes” developed the last year.

“While many areas of habitat design have seen regular design advances over time, the design of the toilet seems to be one of the areas lagging behind. Apart from the ‘loo taboo’ that could be associated with this neglect, the toilet, though a spatially small area of habitat design, it could be considered to be one of the most complex ones.” (Anupama Kundoo, Director of the Workshop)