Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Sustainable Shells: New African Vaults Built with Soil-Cement Tiles

Buy Article:

$40.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

The Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Centre, South Africa achieves economy of means, social improvement and low environmental impact in a remote World Heritage site. This paper outlines the design methodology and construction process for a series of thin shell domes and vaults in rural South Africa. We use the Valencian tradition of tile vaulting, a 700-year-old construction system, to create lightweight and durable buildings from thin soil-cement bricks.

The load-bearing masonry is used to construct roof vaults achieving high structural strength with minimal material. The largest free-form vaults span 14.5m with an unreinforced masonry vault of 300mm thickness. We replaced fired-clay bricks with less energy-intensive stabilized earth tiles, which have a well-established tradition in sustainable practice. At Mapungubwe they are used to create sophisticated engineered forms by adapting a hand-press to locally manufacture tiles of sufficient strength. In addition to being structurally efficient, elegantly simple and environmentally sustainable, tile vaults have advantages for construction in developing areas.

When compared to conventional construction, this system offers material and financial savings, waste reduction, and local employment with transferable outputs and skills for future projects. For this project, we introduced the structural masonry of tile vaults to South Africa, and for the first time we combined tile vaulting with locally made stabilized earth tiles that have low embodied energy. No steel reinforcing simplifies construction, lowers cost and reduces embodied energy. The vaults are built with minimal support, saving time, money and resources on formwork. The Centre represents a significant step forward in structure and material for sustainable construction.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: FORM FINDING; FORMWORK; GRAPHIC STATICS; GUASTAVINO; LIMIT ANALYSIS; MASONRY SHELLS; NATURAL MATERIALS; STRUCTURAL MASONRY; TILE VAULT; TRADITIONAL CONSTRUCTION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of the IASS is the peer-reviewed, quarterly journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures. The journal mainly presents technical papers and project reports submitted by members or nonmembers of the IASS. Typically, one issue per year focuses on a special topic arranged by guest editors. Additional articles annually include the four Hangai Prize winning papers and Tsuboi Proceedings Award contribution from the IASS annual symposium. Finally, additional content includes announcements of events and memorial statements of distinguished IASS members.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more