WORKSHOP ON BRICK MASONRY ARCHES, VAULT AND DOME

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Fun, sweat, falling, stepping back up, in repeated courses made the 8 days of the brick workshop conducted in McGAN´S. The workshop planned for the students by the college was proposed by our faculty Ar. Panogiotis kostoulas.

The design was planned and executed to impart knowledge on the various types of arches, vault and dome. Each of the four walls held a different arch viz. segmental, corbelled, semi-circular and pointed. The front wall consisted of the pointed arch which would subsequently carry the vault in its shape. Students from first, second, third and fifth year students were chosen, mixed and made into groups. Each group was asked to work on one of the four walls with arches and the foundation. Further the groups were re shuffled to work on dome and vault. The mixture of students from different years made them to interact and share the knowledge they have gained at their experience levels.

The whole workshop was held in two phases each phase in one semester. The hardships involved in the actual making of a structure were understood at every point. The geometry of each arch had to be strictly adhered to, to ensure the proper transmission of load within the structure. The principles of brick bonding had to be maintained and the required angles had to be exactly symmetric on both sides of the arch. Periodically the level on two sides was checked using the water level in a pipe which works due to the equilibrium property of water.

Awareness of the changing climate during the day helped in shielding the structure. The climate changes from pleasant in the mornings to hot and windy in the noon to rainy evenings followed by more rain and strong winds in the night. Plastic sheets were tied onto the scaffoldings and tube lights were fitted on two poles to work for a little longer in the evenings. The teams constructing the dome and vault especially were slowed down at many points as it had to be monitored very carefully for interior and exterior had to align precisely for aesthetics and structure.



In course of the work, students learned to use the various tools for measurement, levelling and chamfering of bricks. The mortar ratios of brick masonry for walls, dome, vault and seating were analysed and worked out based on the needs for the structural components. Sieving sand, combining cement, sand, soil and water in their right proportions to make mortar, cutting and pasting bricks according to the needs from 8.30 am to 9.00 pm made each day at the site. Despite various downfalls, each time the guides brought students back on track even if it required removing bricks which had been constructed inaccurately. However at the end of each day everyone felt satisfied at the way the structure was rising up elegantly.

Placing of keystone for the vault and the last brick for the top-most portion of the dome were times people can never forget. The last moments before placing the keystone were challenging which was planned and executed accurately. After much waiting, the structure turned out successfully to our joy. Memorable and cheerful moments, it was celebrated as an expression of satisfaction achieved due to the coordination of students by the professors. It would be a treasure for the college and a privilege for the students from various batches who were a part of it.