21 October 2011

[ayiti] The smallest construction site

 Last night, the smallest construction site was in operation from 11:15-11:35pm. Some of my thesis studiomates had a good laugh at this process.  It just seemed so ... real yet fake.  I was working with "real" materials, yet in such miniscule quantities that it was more akin to doling out medication doses than cubic meters of construction matter.

Welcome to my studio-turn-production center.  Maybe it seems silly, but I wanted to do a (literally) little test of a recycled concrete mix design, what material is best used for formwork, and what release agent is ideal for the process.  Scaling a building panel down to 1/10th its size meant that each piece was roughly the size of a credit card.  How much will I learn from it?  Well, it's something.  The concrete is still curing.  In the meantime, I made this stilted animation courtesy of Phil's smart phone and a little bit of Photoshop* :

* while I figure out how to upload animated GIF files to this blog - 
a subject that many a blogger has struggled over but have not come up with a simple solution - 
click on the photo for now to see the animation.

It involved mixing concrete using the following essential ingredients:
  • cement = Quikrete (because I don't have time for the real 7 day cure)
  • large aggregate = gravel from Killian Court as "scaled rubble"
  • fine aggregate = playground sand
  • water = taken from the women's bathroom
  • work area tarp = trash bag
  • work gloves = latex-free gloves from the fab lab
  • release agent = WD-40 (a real release agent, but perhaps too powerful for corrugated cardboard)
My mix design was essentially 1 part cement, 4-parts gravel (inaccurate due to using plastic cups for measurement), 6 parts sand.  I might need to use more sand and less gravel next time, or let these things cure longer since the first one broke after I separated it from the bottom formwork to reveal a mini piece of concrete reminiscent of a gray Blondie with chocolate chips.

In any rate, more experimentation to come as our thesis midreview looms!

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