Thursday, June 27, 2013

Foundations/Footings: Pt. 1

Progress on the footings and foundations are moving very quickly. In a little over a week and a half we went from ground breaking to having all the trenches dug out, we fabricated all the steel reinforcement and poured the ring beams! All of these efforts are rapidly progressing in order to pour the floor slab as soon as possible. We've been luck to have an amazing team of guys working tirelessly so we can meet our goals in good time.

the finished trenches

vertical support for the ring beam

compacting the sub-soil in the trenches

pouring a first layer of concrete in the trenches

securing the ring beams

steel reinforcement

Ever wonder how we get our materials to the island? They are delivered by a canoe from the mainland. When they arrive, materials are typically thrown into the water and we have to fish them out and carry them to the work site.

with all the steel in place, its time to pour the ring beams

mixing concrete by hand

getting close...

pouring is absolutely exhausting. after lunch a nap is necessary

starting to look like something

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Block Press, test blocks and tiles

The reason for doing all the soils tests was to determine which soils were appropriate to use for making the soil-cement blocks and tiles. Of course to produce the bricks and tiles we need a machine - a block press. Like most things in Kenya, it was not particularly easy to actually acquire this press. It took two trips to the mainland - one to transfer money and one to actually pick up the press and bring it back to the island. In fact the day we picked up the press we almost didn't make it back to the island. Elijah and I missed the last ferry to Mfangano and had to hitchhike with the machine that weighs about 300 lbs on a boat full of high schoolers.

night trip back to Mfangano with the machine an entire highschool

the next day we got together to install the press and begin making some test blocks and tiles

attaching the press to boards for stabilization

the Makiga block press


mixing and loading

Gabs referencing research articles to local skeptics (very proud moment)

By the second day we established who the block-making team would be and who does each specific task. The team is Mike, Elijah, Kelly and me. In a very short time we were able to get a good rhythm going and really start producing a lot of blocks.

the stack - getting bigger

to make the tiles, we use a wood block to reduce the depth of the machine

then we measure a specific amount of we mix and pour into the machine

smoothing out the soil before compression

once compressed, out comes a 1 inch soil-cement tile on a wood block
ready to me moved to the drying area

blocks and tiles are stacked

and labeled

we made over 400 examples in just 3 days with small mixes
(mixing takes longer than compressing and stacking)

the blocks are covered in plastic for curing

also, Elijah discovered a great alternative use for the block press

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Soils Testing

For the soil testing component of the project we collected soil from nearby villages in order to test and compare the different types of soil found on the island. This data found from the soil tests will assist us in coming to a conclusion about which soil will best suit our needs as well as the amount of stabilizing (adding of sand and cement) needed for the production of the compressed earth blocks. Once we have chosen a soil that we want to use, we can make a series of test blocks and tiles that use various rations of soil, sand and cement.

soil sedimentation test 

 sieving the soil

the Ekialo Kiona soil lab underneath the tent

 measuring percentages of gravel, sand, silt, and clay

elasticity and shrinkage test results

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Site Prep and Ground Breaking

We didn't really spare any time after getting to Mfangano and jumped right into working on the new EK FM radio station. We had a number of meetings with the EK executives, and the guild to talk through the construction technique as well as what was needed programmatically for the operation for the radio station. At the same time we started to think about the soils that we would use for making the compressed stabilized earth blocks and tiles.

Adam and Kelly collecting soil samples from a neighboring village

the first schematic sketch of the new radio station

Elijah cutting a pipe for our soil pestle

On Tuesday June 11th we presented a few options for the placement of the studio on the EK community center compound. After a lot of thought and discussion it was decided the best placement for the new radio studio was centered with the courtyard. The final placement of the tent is still up in the air, but we feel we have some time to decide that still. Options 2 shows that there is room to place the tent adjacent to the radio studio on the side closer to the latrine or to actually split the tent into two pieces shown in Option 3.

option 1

option 2 

 option 3

Site preparation commenced once we came to a unanimous decision that it was best to put this building on display and fit within the whole site plan of the compound. The guild had their first day of work laying out lines to mark out where we would dig trenches.

We officially broke ground on Thursday June 13th. That morning we had a little preparing to do before starting to dig. We laid some white powder on the ground as guides for the foundation trenches and had a small ceremony which included all the members of the Guild (Gabs, Sam, Mike and Elijah), EK director Richard, and a few people from the EKFM  .

 Samwell - director of radio operations - breaking ground.