Blending Ancient Construction Techniques Can Solve Housing Problem: Thariq Aziz
The Making of Ogival Shell
He was always fascinated by ancient architecture and the use of masonry in construction forms, he tells me. As I start my conversation with Thariq Aziz, a second year MTech student who recently made headlines by developing an Ogival Shell without using either steel or concrete, I learn that his initiative, if replicated well at a larger scale, could go on to solve the country's housing problem.
A fan of the ancient brick-and-mortar way of construction, Aziz, a student of Srinivas School of Engineering, Mukka, Mangaluru, is an avid traveller and a writing enthusiast. It was for his fascination with masonry construction that Aziz chose his Ogival Shell project at the Dakshina Kannada Nirmithi Kendra as part of his final year MTech submission. This prototype takes inspiration from the domes found in religious and ancient Mughal constructions.
While I am told that this could be a landmark initiative, I can't help but ask Aziz to elaborate and explain why his project had caught everyone's attention.
Here are a few key imports from the conversation:
The type of construction that Aziz has shown in his prototype, he explains, could lower the construction cost in any real estate project by about 30-40 per cent due to the lower prices of raw materials used, and also because such a construction could be achieved by unskilled labour with the right instructions. The prototype, Aziz says, “was made of burnt brick, available in abundance in Mangaluru, and mortar. The two were used in a ratio of 1:3. The cost of burnt brick is Rs 6 per unit, cheaper than other building materials used in construction nowadays”. There was no steel or concrete used in the construction. “So, there is no formwork, shuttling or even reinforcement; you save money on these as well.”
These shells can be constructed even by the unskilled labourers; all they would need is proper instructions. They don't require any special design, so this could perhaps be the easiest form of construction.
Easy to build, but strong
The Ogival shell is easy to build and Aziz informs that his prototype was constructed in only 25 working days. The only challenge, he says, was to achieve a perfect radius of the prototype using burnt brick and mortar. "So, we brought in a makeshift steering technology which we installed at the centre of the construction to give it the desired shape. This was our base of construction and helped achieve perfection,” says Aziz.
He adds: “You could create this structure for any diameter and stretch it up to any desired height; you can also have floor divisions. It is suitable for any kind of usage – from a commercial structure to a housing space.”
What makes it more interesting is the fact that it is a strong construction. Once Aziz's project was completed, it was tested to take a weight of about 2,000 kg, which it successfully did. There were no cracks on the base, implying the structure will be able to stand strong even in the event of any natural disasters.
“In times of disaster, this could be an easy rehabilitation construction – the raw material will be easily available, construction time will be small, and size customisation will be no problem,” says an optimistic Aziz.
The prototype is a green construction because it uses no concrete or steel. Besides, the brick-and-mortar form ensures that the interiors of the construction are kept cool. So, you might not need any special appliances to maintain a pleasant temperature indoors.
Currently preparing for his final exams, Aziz aims to work as a civil engineer, gain knowledge and go on to run his own consultancy. He comes from a family that has many civil engineers. So I ask him on a lighter note before closing our conversation, “Is civil engineering a family tradition?” The 25-year-old grins and says it is quite a tradition, and “the many civil engineers at home are a ready source of inspiration at all times”.