Workshop – June 2015 – Adobe Vaulting a Chocolate Factory

Priya Joseph, an architect and  teacher from Bangalore happened to visit the nunnery,  Shanti Nilaya near Byrathi, Bangalore. The nuns ran a small self sufficient establishment and made their living by making candles and chocolates. Their workspace was a converted cow shed. The working conditions were quite intolerable due to the heat and the humidity inside. Instead of opening up the windows of the space, they had shut themselves in..  as they were constantly bothered by pests.

She came upon the idea of building a new working space for the nuns a few  meters away from their current premises. However, the funds to build the project were not there.. all the nuns had to offer was soil and sand from their 5 acre premises.

Priya approached me with the desire to conduct a workshop in order to build up this small space. Over a quick design meeting, I estimated the project to cost Rs 1.5 Lakhs, to build up a space of 15′ x 15′ (about 270 sft of built up area). We decided to take the risk of building this space up only with the funds that would come up from the workshop participants. 2 - Sheet - A101 - Elevations-page-0All the lessons learnt from the vault I built for the Co-op Forest came handy for this workshop.

The images that follow show the progress of the 10 day workshop.

Day 1. Mixing soil and making a pit for mud mortar. Making a few adobe bricks.

Day 2. Turning adobebricks made by the professional brickmakers. Drying them and moving them close to site.

Day 3. Marking the first brick courses and starting with masonry.

Day 4, 5. Building up walls and setting up catenary arches for the openings.

Day 6 to 9. Adobe brick nubian vaulting. Building up the oven on the outside.

After the 10 day workshop, we used the funds to complete the work using professional masons. The project is still incomplete as of Aug 22, 2015 as we ran out of funds. The money raised for the workshop was about Rs 1.25 Lakhs. We still need about Rs 25,000 to plaster the walls and put up doors and a skylight.

24 Participants worked for 10 days as a family. What we achieved with unskilled hands was something we shall be proud of.


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