Skip to main content


Showing posts from May 26, 2013


Last year, when I was first designing the shelter, I wanted to use only whole bricks everywhere- not even halves. I have since realized that sometimes, half bricks are useful to finish a pattern. I've read that Swedish architect Sigurd Lewerentz refused to use half bricks. As a result, the bonding pattern and mortar joints were much looser. So I guess it's a trade-off- more mortar, or different bricks?

Catenary Tiles

I was playing around with the clay, trying to think of what to do  for the sleeping surface part of the shelter. I thought I would try a different method of forming tiles. Roman tile-makers formed roof tiles by slapping clay over their thighs- thighs had the proper length and taper, I suppose. In the past, I have used a rolling method, where a sheet of clay is rolled out between a frame that has the proper thickness. I decided to try making catenary curve tiles. If the frame was placed on some sort of fabric or mesh that could then be hung, the tile would take a catenary shape- then it would be in pure compression when flipped over.

It worked quite well. I was afraid the clay would crack, but after the first day of drying it is fine. I think if I continue testing I will use a thinner sheet of clay and try to get more control over the height of the mesh. I can also perhaps suspend from more than 4 points to make different curves.

 I also like the fact that the mesh is imprinted on the co…

More flint, plus chalk

On my mini-vacation I decided to go to Brighton to see a bit of the ocean. I had one day of sunshine and one day of constant rain, so I wandered the beach and then when it was raining visited some museums. I had the chance to see the chalk and flint geology of the coast and then find out about it. I found out that flint is almost pure silica and is believed to be formed from the decomposition and recrystallization of a certain kind of sea sponge. The flint in Brighton is found in its familiar irregular nodules but also in the form of pebbles that have lost their white and translucent colours from constant washing in the sea.
There is also chalk, in which large quantities of flint stones are embedded. Chalk is a very soft rock. Even just handling pieces left a milky white residue on my hands. The flints appear in the clay soil at Grymsdyke Farm because the chalk that once surrounded them was worn away by weathering, leaving the very fine particles that make clay. The harder flint remain…

Roof, mostly complete!

It has been slow going, and I am just beginning to get good at this mortaring business, but for now, the roof is done! I am going to take a break for a couple of days before continuing to work on the intersections.