Designing and Building in Central and East Africa

A construction detail – informed by the construction process

Proposed OPEQ Teacher Learning Center plan

Proposed OPEQ Teacher Learning Center plan

Since posting my article about the Flexible Teacher Learning Center, the OPEQ team has gotten to work detailing the structure and budgeting out the materials and labor.  Unfortunately – the team has had difficulty getting the cost estimates under budget as they have made various adjustments to the design.

One of the biggest changes that was one made to the columns.  The team opted to changed from wood columns to reinforced concrete.  This will be much more expensive (and undoubtedly a reason for their current budgeting issues), though the structure will perform better against termites and the heavy seasonal rains.

This decision brought about questions regarding how to create the connection detail between the concrete columns and the wood screens.  Without questioning the team’s modifications to the design too much (it’s not my office or my project, really), I’ve offered this simple detail that shows how the construction process can inform the design and its dimensions.

Wood Screen/Concrete junction detail

This detail uses the standard formwork (coffrage) method but identifies temporary formwork and permanent formwork.  By placing a series of nails along the interior of the permenant pieces, a strong connection can be forged between the concrete and with the wood screens.

Details such as this one require detailed measurements and a little planning, but nothing more.  There are no additional materials; and the formwork, which is often discarded after use, gains a permanent place in the life of the building.

Design can often be informed by construction processes and vice versa.  Therefore, when working on construction projects (in rural Africa and beyond), it is imperative to understand the construction methods and their order of operations in order to create effective construction documents.

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One response

  1. Interesting blog. I will reblog.

    June 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm

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