Monday, March 22, 2010

Mud house - 4

This is a continuation from the blogpost, Mud house - 3 where we looked at 'The site' and 'The walls'. We now go on to discussing the next steps.

3. Plastering & Flooring
Preparation of the floor and plastering of the walls is carried out at the same time. It is a task usually undertaken by women. A mud floor is usually 4 cm thk. The plinth comprises of earth that has been excavated from the foundation trench. To obtain a 30cm high plinth, more earth may be acquired from the surrounding areas.

In order to avoid cracks on drying, sand is mixed with the mud in the proportion of 1:5 i.e. 1 part sand to 5 parts earth for plastering as well as for the flooring mix. For plastering and flooring together, no.of persons required are 8 women for completing the work in 1 day. The mud floor is allowed to dry for a day and then cowdung is spread on the mud floor. The walls are whitewashed from the inside and the outside. The whitewash may be available in packets of 3 kg. The walls of a 3.0m diameter house usually require 4 packets of whitewash.

4. Roof
Whilst the wall is being constructed, the wooden members that make up the loft are placed on the wall before the last 60cm of wall is raised so that these palmyra members get embedded in the wall. As soon as the wall upto 1.8m height is completed, the midhi or loft may be constructed. This comprises of 4 beams in palmyra placed across the room with battens spanning across the beams. The battens rest side by side so as to leave minimum gaps between them. This is then covered with 8cm of mud layer. Over the midhi, a support system is built in order that the palmyra members forming the core may rest on it.

The roof frame uses Palmyra, Sarvi and Ruvvala wood. Near Haripuram, the village in Visakhapatnam district where this mud house was built, Ruvvala was freely available but the charge for carrying each bundle to the site of construction had to be paid. The roof frame used 6 bundles of Ruvvala. The number of palmyra trees that were used for the pitched conical roof structure were four. It is preferable to buy the wood in wholesale i.e. to purchase the trees and have them cut as per requirements.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Does your building make business sense?

This is from an article that I wrote for Business Gyan :

The origin of your business or entrepreneurial venture has been a creative idea. Some years have been spent in developing that idea, in seeking capital, in marketing the idea, in learning to focus and in making the idea a long-term goal. Through all this, your business has nested itself in one, or more than one physical environment. This may have been a garage to begin with, an office in a commercial building, two floors in an expensive location in town and today, you may be a company with its own building or about to occupy its own premises. If you have the time, it may be worthwhile today to do a Post-Occupancy Evaluation of the building and to ask yourself and your team – Does our building make business sense?

Here is a link to the full article

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mud house - 3

This part of the Mud house series focuses on the following :
1. The Site
The site is selected and then cleaned. Construction work begins with digging a 30cm deep trench as per the required circular plan. This layout is marked at site by placing a pole in timber at a point which may be the centre of the circle. This is fixed temporarily. A thread tied to it, the other end of it holds an iron rod. This end is moved around to mark the circle on the ground. A 45cm wide trench is dug. The earth excavated is thrown into the circle and this becomes the filling for the required 30cm high plinth of the house. The trench is only 30cm deep since here at Haripuram village, the soil is rocky. The number of persons required for this task are four and the duration of work is one day.

2. The Walls
The walls are built in mud by the cob wall technique i.e. earth is mixed with water thoroughly with hands and also feet to form the right consistency. Next, balls of mud are placed into the trench to build up the wall. At a time i.e. in one day, only 60cm height of wall may be erected. It is allowed to dry, before the next 60cm of wall is built on the following day.

Since no further construction takes place that day, the time is utilised for the mixing of the earth and water to be used for subsequent construction. The soil mix must be sufficiently clayey. In case of difficulty in obtaining clayey soil, it is carted from the neighbouring areas. However, such a need occurs rarely.