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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hand-Made Mud-Bricks & Structure, Nizwa, Oman...


A few images of a project I did a few years back during a stint at the University of Nizwa in Oman with two of my then students, Ali and Khaled... 

The project began with a visit to Bahla Castle, roughly half an hour drive from Nizwa, where we observed first-hand the process of mud brick making. These lessons were applied in our ‘micro-mud-brick-making-factory’ we set up on campus, which included a barrel for mixing the mud slur; a spot where the mud and straw were mixed; a partially shaded raised platform on which the bricks were made by Ali and Khaled, the two participating students; and an adjacent raised platform for drying the bricks (and protect them from the occasional flash-floods).  Approximately seven-hundred, about 1/4 scale, mud bricks were made, using hand-made ‘mini’ molds, before we ran out of raw material. This process also included a number of experiments where the mud-slur was mixed with a set of dyes or other additives (usually used for changing the properties of concrete) to provide the bricks with additional strength and robustness. 

The bricks were consequently used to build a small structure in which we tested and used a variety of different mud-brick patterns and compositions. A segment of the structure was also covered by a screed coats of a slightly less viscous mud-slur that is still today used in vernacular architecture. 

For more images from the process and comparable structures please click here and here...



The roughly 1/4 scale molds used to make the mud bricks...

Khaled mixing the mud and straw...

Making the bricks...

Laying the bricks in rows for drying...

The making of the wall commences...

A screed coat of mud is added...

Above & Below: Details from the construction of the structure...


Image of the interior...

Above & Below: The semi completed structure...


Khaled and Ali's feet...

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