Posted by: sarahernst | July 10, 2010

Day 11: the team and covered seat

The team

There was just enough time at the end of the day for a quick team photo before the group went their separate ways. This is just the beginning of a process which we hope will make a real difference to the quality of construction and resilience of communities in Almora and beyond. Watch this space for more information…

The seat in use

Posted by: sarahernst | July 10, 2010

Day 11: Final presentations

Eve presenting the harvest map

Today was the final day of the workshop and an opportunity to conclude the two weeks of activities, and share some of the findings with a wider audience.


We were invited to take part in a tree planting ceremony at a school in a village in Majkauli in the morning, and then presented our work to a local government official and journalist around midday. We summarised the research carried out in the first week and then each group had a chance to explain their focus during the second week, and then summarise their analysis and recommendations.

The presentations

Posted by: sarahernst | July 9, 2010

Day 10: block making update

The effort

The block making team have been perfecting the art of making compressed stabilised earth blocks (CSEBs) and have streamlined the process.

Almost there

So far they have made over 30 blocks with varying concentrations of cement, clay and lime. The final blocks include 10% clay and 10% cement and 80% fine sieved earth.

The blocks

Posted by: sarahernst | July 9, 2010

Day 11: completing the seat

The vision

The two-day build began with clearing the site, and marking out the spacing for the four small foundations needed to support the structure.

The ground needed to be levelled before holes could be dug to accommodate the cooking oil tins which were being used as foundations for the bamboo posts. Some adjustment was needed before the concrete plinth could be cast. The pressures of time meant that the initial layout took place in the dead of night adding to the challenge faced.

The process

The bamboo frame was prepared separately, prefabricated by groups in the grounds in front of the college, allowing for constant checks and references to the foundations of the structure to allow for adaptations between the drawings and as-built product.

The bamboo connections were iterations from the group’s initial study of the literature provided, developing with the assistance of a skilled bamboo carpenter who helped develop the final details and guide the process.

This was for many of the participants their first exposure to onsite construction using bamboo and with the added challenge of basic tools and a tight timescale was an apt simulation for building in a context of scarce resources and multiple constraints.

It was frustrating at times for participants to not have all of the right answers, and to have to learn through testing and sometimes failing. However, as the frame neared completion the groups felt a heightened sense of achievement, and were keen to be involved in putting the whole structure together.

The negotiations

The result is a modest bamboo frame shelter which can accommodate seating for up to five, with spectacular views across the valley. The final product, though important in promoting the use of bamboo in the region, is secondary to the process of learning through investigation, testing and making.

Posted by: sarahernst | July 8, 2010

Day 10: construction takes off

Today it was all hands on deck to construct the covered seat. We were attempting to draw on all the knowledge and skills gained over the past 2 weeks to construct this small prototype, and learn through the process of designing and making.

The block making team - generating interest on the roadside

The team working on the design had tried to incorporate most of the materials, technologies and concepts and were dipping in and out of the other groups to negotiate details. One team successfully cast a concrete plinth with foundations for the bamboo structure to fix to, while a couple of other teams marked out, cut and connected a bamboo frame. The latter was a bit of a challenge as the bamboo was inevitably irregular (not very straight and different thicknesses) and most of us had never attempted to cut and connect pieces of bamboo.

The split bamboo seat

A bamboo carpenter came to our rescue and helped us to peg some of the connections, which made the joints much stronger. Some adjustments were needed when the frame was placed in the foundations, but once there we were able to secure the two frames together with cross members and eventually the seat!

Posted by: sarahernst | July 7, 2010

Day 9: construction begins

Today some of the groups continued to consolidate their research so they could move onto more hands on activities, while the block making team got into the swing of the things, the other practical team attempted to procure all the necessary materials to get going with the construction of the covered seat. We finished a long day in the dark, marking out foundations, and trying to figure out the bamboo structure.

Posted by: scotjeremy | July 7, 2010

day 8: Seating shelter

On Tuesday the 6th, we got given the task to design and then build a shelter where two persons could seat and enjoy the view across the valley.

The idea is to test some of the technologies we have been developing within each group; Varun (block), Katherine (bamboo), Sheena (roof) and Jeremy (shelter) gathered, brainstormed and came up with different options.

They decided to use a tensed bamboo frame roof supported by four double bamboo posts which would seat on pads made of oil tin cans filled with concrete. The seating itself would be mud bricks.

Posted by: regionthread | July 6, 2010

day 8: harvest mapping

The harvest mapping group have been working to compile a comprehensive record of localised materials and skills in the area. This type of information is crucial during a disaster situation; and will inform the design rationale of the prototyping groups.

Eve working at the control desk

During the day Bea and Deepak ventured to Chaukoni to speak with local masons. In addition, they spoke to the village chief who drew an interesting map depicting the village boundaries and forestry. Eve has been working very hard to investigate the regional availability of bamboo and earth. We are drawing a series of large scale maps onto a classroom wall in the form of a mural. This base for the information will hopefully be added to in the future and used to coordinate disaster rebuilding strategy.

Posted by: hmbell | July 6, 2010

Day 7: village settlement planning group

As a group we have been looking at village layout and settlement with particular reference to Chaukuni our case study village. We’ve looked at how an earthquake could affect the village and what changes need to be made either before or after the earthquake to reduce any damage.

In order to do this we first brainstormed what would happen in the event of an earthquake attempting to place ourselves in the villagers shoes and really empathize with the situation they would be in. Through this we produced a timeline which showed immediate, short term and long term responses to such a disaster.

We also created a set of guidelines of what we thought would be necessary to do. Having done this and mapped the hazards that would be found in the village we decided we would need to go back there and find potential sites which the villagers could be moved on to as an immediate response after the earthquake. Though all the sites were really flawed it gave us a good idea of what the situation would be like. We are now working on a booklet documenting our findings.

Posted by: dstahlberg2010 | July 6, 2010

Day 8: Roofing Group

The roofing group looked at the hybrid and roofing aspect of the design. To start off, we looked at the existing roof styles in Ranikhet, in particular the Ranikhet roof style, which consists of corrugated tin sheets supported on a timber frame. We analysed the details and the varying pitches and spans of each roof.

We concluded that the average pitch for a Ranikhet roof was 30degrees, although we did find cases where the pitch was 50degrees. For the slate roofs that were more prominent in Chaukuni, we discovered that the slope of the roof could not exceed 15degrees, so the is could potentially limit the use of this roof type for the intermediate shelter design. We also analysed different roof forms in terms of their usability, cultural appropriateness, spatial quality, ease of construction and maintenance, and earthquake resistance. The most appropriate form was the hipped roof.  After analyzing the detail of the Ranikhet roof, we adapted it to become more relevant to a bamboo structure. We replaced the timber beams with bamboo, the timber slates with bamboo mat, the insulation with straw and the corrugated tin sheets with corrugated bamboo roofing sheets (CBRS). We hope that this detail could possibly be incorporated into the design of the intermediate shelter, as it would be a more efficient and more ecological solution.

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