Thursday, July 30, 2009

Site Works - 30 July

The day started with a visit from Structural engineer Peter Brunner. He clarified the requirements for the pads and re-bar, and inspected the bearing conditions at the pad locations.
We then used a water level to get a consistant level around the four pads.
And we kept digging to level off. One all holes were ready we were able to start fitting the formwork boxes to cast the pads in tomorrow.
Hardcore arrived on time which meant that we will be able to pour the foundations tomorrow.

Site Works - 29 July

Digging out the pads continued today, and the trenches connecting these were marked out and dug out also.
By days end we were ready to start leveling out the holes and making the formwork for the concrete.

Site Works - 28 July

Our First day on Site!
The site was set out, and after prolonged, occasionally heated, but always intelligent discussion a final location was fixed, at an angle to the field, and holding the edge of the route down to the site.
The centre of the site is to be marked with a central steel pole. This pole allows us to coordinate all set outs on site throughout the job as radii to this central point.
Ryan Kennihan dug the hole for the post, which was raised, plumbed and cast in concrete.

Once the concrete had set we could set out the site and commence digging the pads.
There are 4 pads, one at each corner of the dome. These are 900 x 900 x 300 concrete over 200 compacted hardcore. These pads are connected by tie bars which act to counteract the lateral forces from the dome.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brick Slips

We met with Dermot Kelly and Ciaran O'Reilly of Lagan Bricks to agree the bricks to be used for the project. From the options presented we chose a smooth-faced red brick.
As the slips are cut from full bricks they will each have a cut and a smooth face. In addition the slip from the back of the brick will have a different texture to the slip from the front. Lagan will batch separately so that the lower (exposed) course of the arches and dome can be completed in a consistent finish.
Lagan will be commencing fabrication of the brick slips tomorrow. the first delivery to site will take place lat next week. Lagan also intend to give a workshop on the history and technology of brick-making, the date for this will be confirmed later.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Construction Workshop No.1 - Setting Out

We held the first construction workshop with Michael Murphy of the building lab in Richview today.
In order to set out the project we are going to use a large, centrally located steel pole. This will be cast in concrete and plumbed. It will form the basis for all subsequent setting out on the project and will require a high degree of accuracy in its placement.
Once in place we will use radii off this pole to locate corners of pads, and to set up strings to determine trench lines etc. As the dome rises we will also use the pole to check the accuracy of the domes form.

Michael also gave a demonstration of the use of digging equipment we will be using to dig out the trenches and pads.

Fund Raising Complete

The table quiz was a huge success and we would like to thank all those inside the group and beyond who came along, paid up and helped make for a great evening.
The Cohesive Construction project is now fully funded and we will shortly commence works on site.
Many thanks to Calin for taking these photos.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Spider Vaults

This blog documents the design, engineering, fabrication and construction of an unreinforced stone masonry vault featuring new forms for compression-only structures.
The project is a collaboration between Escobedo Construction and Prof. John Ochsendorf and Philippe Block from MIT. By combining the MIT team’s expertise in three-dimensional equilibrium of complex structures in unreinforced masonry and Escobedo Construction’s expertise in design and construction of stone buildings, we expect to produce a state-of-the-art pavilion.

The vault is being designed using Thrust Network Analysis, a new computational tool developed at MIT for exploring three-dimensional equilibrium structures.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Temple of the Four Winds

As we will be placing our structure in the 'garden' adjacent to the studios, it seems we will be adding our contribution to the long history of architectural garden follies , of which the above by Sir John Vanbrugh is a fine example.

Meeting 02 - Minutes

Thanks to all who came to the meeting on Thursday.

Progress to date:.

  • Our Fundraising Table Quiz is set for Tuesday evening at 4 Dame Lane. We expect all of our group members to be there with a team each! Thank you to all of the quiz night sponsors including :

  • The First Draft of our domed room design is being reviewed by our structural consultants. Michael Ramage and Peter Brunner
  • About the House will be filming the construction of our room for a segment on their program
  • We will be holding the first building workshop for the group and beginning the setting out of the project on Thursday the 23rd at 2:00pm. In order to participate in the remainder of the construction process all group members must attend on Thursday. Please inform us if you will be unable to attend.
  • Our site has been chosen with the assistance of Michael Murphy of the building lab on the corner of the field between the 4th year studio and the building lab.
  • The required bricks and brick slips have been generously donated by Dermot Kelly of Lagan Bricks


  • Please consult the programme to the right hand side of the page for regular programme updates as it evolves. Provisionally we have:
  • Wednesday 22nd, the site will be strimmed and 3 members will assist Michael Murphy with a quarry run for sand and gravel
  • Thursday 23rd, first building workshop for the entire group, setting out the site. Mandatory attendance.
  • Monday 27th, Construction teams begin work on foundation excavation. Schedule to be agreed.
  • Thursday 30th, Rebar and foundation pouring.


  • GROUP – Spread the word about the table quiz!
  • GROUP – put up posters and distribute publicity on our sponsors
  • GROUP – photograph all aspects of the process as things move forward.
  • GROUP – Please email us if you have any construction experience as we need to set up our construction teams.
  • Fiona Suzy Ryan Andrew and Colm- Quiz questions and organization
  • Elaine - Investigating sources / prices of British Gypsum Casting Plaster and strimming (weed wacking..) the site in preparation for Thursday’s workshop.
  • Carthage – will be setting up the time lapse photography and finding a location in the planning offices. First photographs to be taken by Wednesday’s site clearing.
  • Anne Nielsen – is our member in charge of documentation and regular photography. To begin taking photos now.
  • Alex Doran, David LedWith, Conor McGowan to go on Quarry run with Michael Murphy on Wednesday at Lunch
  • Simon Canz – to purchase 3no. builders’ shovels, 2no. buckets, and builders’string for the Thursday workshop
  • Philip – (still) Checking on sources of ply to use as the temporary support to the arches on which the dome will bear.
  • Dina – (still) looking for a 3m metal pole
  • Ryan, Andrew, Colm – Continue to liaise with Michael Ramage and Peter Brunner to work up the design of foundations and buttressing.

Keep up the good work!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meeting 2

Just to confirm that the next meeting of the workshop will take place in our offices at Strandstudio, 65 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1 at 6:30pm 16th July. See you then.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Brick Construction Workshop

Just confirmed. Dermot Fullam of Dermot Paul Construction, an expert bricklayer, will be conducting a workshop on brick construction for Cohesive Construction once we are on site at UCD. Date and time to be agreed.

Lagan Bricks

Dermot Kelly of Lagan Bricks has very kindly offered to help us out with the materials for the project. Lagan are now the main sponsor for the project, and although we still need to raise monies to fund tools and other materials, this donation goes a long way to making the project viable. A big thanks to Bruno Vidal of the workshop for taking the initiative, making the contacts and putting this in place.

Table Quiz

All are invited to come to the Cohesive Construction table quiz on Tuesday 21 July at 9pm. Theres a great array of prizes on offer including tickets to the Castlepalooza music festival.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Building and Testing a Timbrel Vault

Simon Canz found this interesting video showing in detail the construction and testing (to failure) of a timbrel vault. Turn sound down to avoid the panpipe music!

We Have a Site

We met Michael Murphy from Richview this afternoon and agreed a site for the project

The area is as we discussed at the last meeting, between the building lab and the fourth year studio. The site, held on two sides by relatively mature trees and a level change, opens out to views of the route from main campus.

The exact location will be to the right of the steps down from the quadrangle, in order to avoid drainage runs in the area.

Close to the building laboratory, and relatively sheltered it also offers practical advantages for the construction period.

Michael was also incredibly helpful in offering advice and equipment to aid the works. He will be assisting the project in the form of occasional workshops related to the phase the project is at (setting out, pouring foundations etc). More info on this at the next meeting.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Alex Doran has managed to get as much sand and gravel as we will need for the project from a Roadstone quarry on the M50. We just have to arrange the transport of this to UCD. This is a great start, as it will take care of a lot of the materials we will need for the foundations. We will still need to get cement and possibly some rebar for this element of the works. Many thanks also to Roadstone for this.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Meeting 1 - Minutes

Many thanks to all who came to the meeting today. As we discussed we will run this as a mini construction project. The intention being to leave a 'gift' behind for Richview in the form of a domed room.
In order to make the project a reality we have to finalize the design, raise funds, agree a site, secure materials, secure tools and ensure adequate insurances etc are in place.

The basic design is for a 4m x 4m domed space, bearing on 4 low arches. Buttressing to these arches will take the form of walls to either side of the arches.

Progress to date:.
  • We have received preliminary assistance from Michael Ramage in the Architecture department in Cambridge, who will be giving more comprehensive advice as he receives information.
  • We have begun talking to Peter Brunner, an excellent young Irish Structural Engineer who will be available to help us design issues relating to foundation pads etc.
  • We envisage 2-3 weeks of preliminary work including securing funding and materials and 2 weeks on site.
  • Works on the logistics relating to the project will be assigned at each meeting
  • Work on site will proceed in 2-3 person teams.

  • Fiona and Suzy - Tag / General fund-raising wizardry
  • Elaine - Investigating sources / prices of British Gypsum Casting Plaster as detailed by MIT for laying the first course
  • Philip - Checking on sources of thin ply to use as the temporary support to the arches on which the dome will bear.
  • Carthage / StJohn - investigating sources for tools, with particular emphasis on the building lab in UCD
  • Dina - looking for a 3m metal pole
  • Alex - checking into sources of concrete
  • Andrew / Ryan / Colm - We will meet Hugh, Michael and others in Richview early next week to agree a site and general admin issues related to the project. The next meeting will be organized to immediately follow this. We will also be liaising with Michael Ramage and Peter Brunner to work up the design of foundations and buttressing. This will enable us to bring more comprehensive drawings of the project for general discussion.

Everyone else is not off the hook though! Keep your thinking caps on, particularly as regards raising funds to cover our costs.

Pines Calyx

We mentioned Pines Calyx in todays meeting - a timbrel vaulted scheme in the UK. I can't link directly to it, but you can navigate to info about it from the main guastavino homepage. Just click on the image of the Pines Calyx dome.

Workshop Full

Cohesive Construction now has a full complement! Names of all involved are listed in the right hand column of the blog. The meeting this evening will give more detail about the project and assign tasks to individuals to allow us to take the project forwards.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More Information

There is a bit more about the historical background to the construction technique here.
And here is some info on the Cuban Art School. This large project designed using timbrel construction was partly realized in the mid 20th century
Lastly here is a comprehensive study on the structural properties of timbrel vaulting

MIT Research

As part of the workshop we will be getting advice from people involved in the Guastavino Project in MIT - Particularly interesting is Michael Ramages Thesis - in which he built a small dome (1.8m x 1.8m) in a weekend.
His text describing the process is worth reading

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First Meeting

The first meeting of the workshop will take place on Thursday next, 9 July, at 6:30pm in StrandStudio, 65 Great Strand Street Dublin 1. All are welcome


Welcome to all members. We will use this blog to document the project from initiation to completion.
Many thanks to James, Alice, Fiona and all at Richview for providing this opportunity.