Vaults and Domes

Anyone spending more than an hour around me these days will likely get an earful on vaults and domes! My fascination for Guastavino vaults and domes in particular keeps me riveted and even brought me to the recent Boston Public Library to see some of the original work of the master himself.

I'll fault Jim Hallock of Urban Earth for triggering this interest. Little did he know that his early comments to me would result in me bombarding him and other members of the Urban Earth team with my global search for information!

What a happy exploration it's been. I get Jim's points about the value of masonry vaulted roofs/ceilings. The Guastavino family dominated this space for over 60 years, building some of the most amazing structures across the United States. Marvels of engineering to this day. In my search for those reviving and/or using similar techniques today, I was fortunate to run across Lara Davis's blog on the SUDU. I highly recommend her blog as a well-documented exploration of an earthen building featuring not only timbrel vaults, but a stairway using a vault technique. Lara is a great voice out in the world not only speaking and teaching, but putting her words into action. I'm fortunate to have made a connection with her and we are already benefiting from her wisdom and guidance in our work with vaults. Thanks Lara!

One last note. If you are as fascinated by the topic as I am, then you must see this. I spent quite a bit of time studying this booklet and found it to be a "jaw dropper." Exquisite photography, well-documented and put together, and a true testament to the advanced skill and knowledge of the masons of the past. Are there people who know how to build such things today? They are few in number if so,

That brings me, finally, to today's post and the sharing of visuals. The recent Urban Earth workshop, The 200, featured a segment on building a barrel vaulted compressed earth block roof. Exciting stuff for us all, never mind yours truly, the newly minted vault geek.  What began at the workshop is being completed this week. Here are some great images to share. 

Ever Estrada on The 200 Vault

Ever Estrada on The 200 Vault

Ever displays his approach to applying quick setting gypsum cement to speed vault assembly. I refer to Urban Earth as a technology company innovating construction techniques for earthen buildings.

Ever displays his approach to applying quick setting gypsum cement to speed vault assembly. I refer to Urban Earth as a technology company innovating construction techniques for earthen buildings.

The 200 vault in progress. This vault is being built with 7" x 14" x 2.25" stabilized compressed earth blocks. It will feature two layers, and a cupola to vent warm air.

The 200 vault in progress. This vault is being built with 7" x 14" x 2.25" stabilized compressed earth blocks. It will feature two layers, and a cupola to vent warm air.