Wesam Al Asali Uses Tiles in an Archway in His IN-SITU Project

Craftsmanship faces a lot of challenges with the rigid dimensions of Tiles. While technology seems to have favoured other types of structures more than thin-tile vaulting ones.

Craftsmanship faces a lot of challenges with the rigid dimensions of Tiles. While technology seems to have favoured other types of structures more than thin-tile vaulting ones, it is still an essential asset to find solutions that empower the traditional know-how in building practice. Architecture as an act of design is not the main aim of this project. Rather, it seeks structures that result from, and are described by, simple in-situ applications in what can be outlined as self-generated structures. By hypothesising those structures to the inherent properties of their materials, finding simple in-situ solutions for compression based structures becomes the motor of grassroots local construction. This was also one of the Winning Projects at CEVISAMA 2017.

Wesam Al Asali

In the construction of Gaudi’s ruled-surfaced vaults, marrying the ruled surface logic with the string guide work system is an obvious example. No robotic arms or heavy machines were used but the everyday tools that vault makers had, i.e. strings. This simple technique was transformed to somewhat unprecedented tool for producing complex geometrical compositions.

Tiles in an Archway in His IN-SITU Project

Thin-Tile Vaulting

The project is focused on thin-tile vaulting, the once prevalent and prospered construction system in Spain. By using technology as an analytic tool, thin-tile vaulting has many possibilities not only in places where materials are scarce but also in places where labour can be expensive. Thin-tile vaults are already known for requiring little or no formwork, but the reusability of guidework and formwork to generate multiple and different typologies of vaulting is yet to be explored.

The example this project is the case of transitional housing for internally displaced persons in the north of Syria, where, other than the local materials, thin-tile vaulting can be one feasible solution. It is not only necessary to reduce the amount of formwork but also to give more freedom of having several vaults typologies by using the same guidework systems.

Tiles in an Archway in His IN-SITU

Prototype construction

As part of this project, three vaults were built in July 2016 to test the bending bamboo system. The bending behaviour was calculated, so the changes in stiffness of the strip obliged the bamboo to bend in a structural shape of a parabolic arch. Eventually, the waste materials of formwork and guide work where only the tape we use to fix the bamboo strips together, the strips themselves were returned to the material workshop almost as usable as we first took them.

Project: IN-SITU: Tools and Technology in Traditional Architecture
Designed by- M Wesam Al Asali

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