Conflict and Natural Disasters
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

I would like to know what options are available to house 2-3 million people on a short and longer term basis due to the earthquake.

Should architects look at pre-fab housing, vernacular structures,sand bags, rammed earth or steel frame or a completely new model to over come the needs and future safety of the people. What steps should the government be taking into solving this massive housing crisis.

How can new communities rise from this calamity in a better shape.What role can architecture play in the rebuilding stage of communities/ societies.

Look forward to some creative solutions to this problem.
Aurfan Sadiq
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
The primary housing need for those made homeless in the Kashmir earth-quake is shelter from the winter and the overall primary need is to ensure open access to the post-quake areas by rebuilding the bridges and roads.

As this is a disaster area (like a war zone), the military have the necessary trained personnel and planners who are able to move and act swiftly in such chaotic situations. So the military can handle the roads, bridges and the transport of relief supplies . :)

How can architecture can play a part in the long-term rebuilding of the post-quake area? The most essential part of any house is the utilities (water, waste, power, etc). My own view is that it is better to supply a basic mass-produced utility equipment pack to be put in as the core around which any shape of house can be built; rather than to design and build a mass-produced shell building.

In other words, the "core" inner spaces can be mass-produced and then the rest of the house is built to suit the family. The advantages are (a) many more cores can be built quickly and supply more people, (b)the remaining build can be spread over a much longer time; (c) can be made of mainly of local materials by local labour, and (d) the design will suit both family and local culture. :)))
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Take a look at Nadir Khalili's solution called Sandbag Shelters, which won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004.
Shiraz Allibhai
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Hi Frank,

Thanks for your comments.
Please could you elaborate the 'core' and what vernacular styles of architecture would you involve in this grand mission.
Aurfan Sadiq
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
I would like to know more about methods, and material building style to be used in the earth quake zone to rebuild houses that are earth quake proof.I intend to set up a group of people who will help build, and finance villages destroyed .Any interest on the above will be highly appreciated
Aurfan Sadiq
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Frank and Shiraz,

This is a relevant and urgently required issue at this point of time. One can start by distinguising between the relief and Rehabilitation. What Frank suggests is probably a rehabilitation process.

The idea to put in the 'core' of a house is very interesting, and the core primarily will mean the services, like water-energy-sanitation, correct me if i am wrong.

But I have a question, this core will need to be supplied with, like water or electricity lines to begin with. The systems of administration would be in a disarray at this juncture, so my feeling is, it would be difficult to plan and impliment the scheme which is primamrily 'public' in nature. Rather an approach which is middle-ground between an individual home-public utilty might serve or work. It's an open question. One can discuss.

Another issue, which has been discussed innumerable times and yet has no good framework for a beginner, is this 'style of architecture', Vernacular or modern framework type. There are discussions which have no documentation, no guidelines. Everytime the calamity happens we start with 'square 1', not only in terms of 'material supply' but also in terms of 'theoretical and conceptual' work.

Vaibhav Kaley
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Aurfan, as Vaibhav noted, my thought for a core design and not a shell, is a core space(s) for all the utilities. I have seen too many ugly pre-fab shells to want that type of design for anyone.

Mass production methods are the most efficient way of producing core units and core spaces for housing, and as a core the uglyness would eventually be hidden by vernacular outer spaces. :))

In essence, and there is an existing pattern already in Pakistan (there was an article in one of the MIMAR Journals which was on similar lines, whereby a complete neo-village was built, made up of empty plots with utility service lines to each plot. Then the individual owner/user could build any form of building within the empty plot.)

NOTE: Rebuilding after such a disaster as an earthquake, the primary utility would be for water and waste followed later by some form of power.

my thoughts for an appropriate form of vernacular are that you cannot go far wrong if you use the traditional blank stone-walled (plaster-covered concrete? mud brick?) ground floor plan upon which lighter fibrous frame structures can be placed upon an inner stone wall core space as (a) extra floors above, or (b) outer ground floor spaces.

In the event of another earthquake, the fibrous frame structures will sway and perhaps slide about the inner core walls and yet retain enough structural stabilility to avoid crushing people.

Here in Turkey (which is another active earthquake zone), "Ottoman Konaks" show this traditional type of solid-walled ground floor with upper timber frame floors and there are quite a few which have survived for several hundred years.

Plus these Ottoman Konaks were designed primarily (but not exclusively) for use by Moslems, thus there is a degree of cultural continuity with Pakistan.

Vaibhav, I have an "Intermediate Technology" Handbook which details both the technology and materials necessary for all forms of low-tech traditional design (aka vernacular) for the whole world. If you are interested, I can look in my library catalogue and give you title, author and publisher. yes?
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
I liked Mr. Frank's responses very much.

Coming to the problem of housing, I feel that the importance of vernacular architecture, either in design process of building materials process cannot be ignored in any case. How will it be if the broken rubble be used again in the construction of new houses?

As done by Mr. Romi Khosla in the regions of Kosovo, Palestine, Jerusalem, etc., which were badly ruined in the war. His idea was to use rubble of former, collapsed structures to form walls of the new houses.

So, why can't something like that be done here in Kashmir? It will also prove to be cost-effective in many ways.
Sriraj Gokarakonda
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Hi Frank,

What do you think of 8x4 earthquake shelters made of steel sheets being propogated by a number of NGOs presently on the ground?

Can traditional rocks still be used, or are we to to use unfamiliar materials alien to the surrondings in the guise of earthquake proof shelters?

I would like to know the basic design and material requirements for future earthquake proof or resistent buildings, as I intend to finance and build new altenative houses for the victims.

Can I count on you for further consultation on low cost shelters for the quake victims?

Thanks await your response
Aurfan Sadiq
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank

It is interesting to read your detailed inputs on the issues of housing and means to deal with them. I would love to have the name and details of monograph you are talking about.

But the issue and question still remains. This discussion is about what kinds of building materials, building-typology and methods of construction should be used for rehabilitation after a disaster, and it still remains poorly discussed and developed.

They are still on the fringe of mainstream 'architectural thinking'. We seem to have not realised the magnitude and scale of the situation. The architecture that is generated in the course of such a situation and its implications on many levels.

Do think about it.

Vaibhav Kaley
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Aurfan, Hi, please forgive the delay in answering due to the four day holiday at the end of Ramazan here in Turkey.

Making sheet steel earthquake-proof shelters on an 8x4 plan (scale in Metres? Feet?) has a few problems.

Thoughts to consider when using Sheet Steel:- (a) Structural purpose use is always better if corrugated, (b) Normal carbon steel needs long-term protection from corrosion (zinc nodes, galvanised, etc) (c) Sheet steel is impervious to both gas and vapour, so when used in an enclosed space for people, you need a few holes for the material to breathe out the moisture-laden air of people, and (d) you need to cover (sand bag) the sheet steel from the outside air against winter cold and "wind chill".

I have no idea whether these shelters will be indoors? or outside?

It is cheaper and better to use local materials wherever possible because this allows for local repair and maintenance in the future. The key to durable "masonary walls" (brick, stone, etc is (a) ensuring all surfaces are soaking wet when mortaring/cementing, and (b) make sure the mortar/cement is the same strength as the brick/stone.

My best solution is the traditional blank ground floor stone wall as a core for the building (with fibrous tension elements such as timber) built into the wall. Or you may like to consider using thin steel cables or a flexible steel net around the whole stone-walled core.

Essentially, the use of free-standing stone walls on the ground to suppport a lightweight wooden upper floor is less likely to collapse than the use of a mud/concrete upper floor/roof. To make effective use of materials for the upper floor/roof you could use a steel beam raft with wooden planking with the steel beams carried by the stone walls.

If the only plentiful local supply of cheap building material is earth, you could consider "rammed earth" walls and solid timbers (tree trunks) as posts to carry the upper floor framework.

Two good books are (a) "Technical Principles of Building for Safety" by IT (Intermediate Technology pubs), and (b) "Appropriate Buildings Materials" by Stulz and Mukerji, published by SKAT.

Consult with me anytime, if I do not answer immediately try my email. :)))

Vaibhav, You are correct when you say that pre-disaster and post-disaster building design is not mainstream and in particular "design in rural areas".

This is because mainstream architecture is totally focused on "urban space", so suburban design is considered inferior and rural design is beneath interest.

Given that most of the population on this planet live in rural areas. I feel they have as much right to a reasonble life as urban dwellers, but given that urban areas are where the main money in architecture is to be made, then rural vernacular design is forgotten in the rush to create High-Tech-Urban design.

The other factor which acts against pre-disaster and post-disaster design is that the images look too much like the "disgusting squatter housing" of the urban poor and so do not appeal unless architects and developers actively want to help people and are prepared to recieve less money in return for their dedicated service.

Another factor in the equation is that post-disaster reconstruction is usually done by International agencies like the UN whose "inhouse" experts are perhaps not orientated (probably not allowed) to help or work with local NGOs.
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Siraj, Oops! I almost missed your text. Reuse of rubble from ruined buildings, is a very old and very useful way of building, as throughout history people have reused disaster or time-collapsed buildings with which to build anew.

So I am sure that rubble from collapsed buildings is being used even if only to make temporary roads for the winter.
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
The most immediate and very effective option is to invite those made homeless into the homes that are safe and warm. It requires to transport the homeless via the returning empty helicopters and other means of transportaton. Both Indians and Pakistanis can do it. And, in the wake of the natural calamity of this order, all laws of politicals differences may be termed void and nul.

This discussion on what kind of housing is earthquakeproof, sounds more like a pondering on how to make inroads in a yet lucrative market. Maybe, it is part of the school carricula. And in it, least informed and poor persons are treated like the animals in the zoo and prison inmates, who are never meant to be consulted.

In my three years in Japan, where there is a minor earthquake every third minute on average, the people built wooden frames and walls covered with paper. Then, when the idea of the difference between a rich man's and a poor man's house took hold, it started to affect their seeing things ieologically, things began to shape up differently. I have seen this difference in houses everywhere, including in Srinagar and vicinity. Muzaffarabad seemed like that.

I was in a train in Gujarat when the 2000 earthquake happened. The carriage jumped, but somehow fell back on the track. This, in contrast with an another earthquake when we were boys playing, tunning, and all of a sudden everyone missed a step, and fell down.

Earthquakes were happening since long before the humans began to crowd up places in the name of progress. The bigger the city, more 'prosperous' it is said to be. In the U.S., it is the tornedo that causes havoc in the trailer-home parks.

It would be nice if an architect was required to spend three seasons before s/he designs a building, and three seasons living in it.
Shailesh Dave
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Hi Frank,

Thanks for your comments. I would really like you to get involved with some work that I am planning to undertake in the region in the coming months.

How can I get a hold off your contact details and other members of this site ?

Aurfan Sadiq
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

I do agree with Sriraj to use rubble and the proposals of Romi Khosla. Clearly, rubble has been used in the past to rebuild -- as Frank quite rightly points out -- yet Khosla will say the reconstruction process is a constant search for solutions that are not to be found in history, but in treasures that have to be brought down from the sky of the future. And there is no question his rubble designs include do-able and dynamic strategies.

The Kosovo home proposed the use of gabions filled with the rubble of the destroyed houses with ramps rather than stairs to the second story that double up as scaffolding (which is of course unavailable in most of these situation). In many ways this kind of innovation removes the associations of tragedy from broken homes and opens a refreshing window of opportunity to re-invest the lives of these people with meaning while increasing the capability to do it themselves.

Given the absence of materials and funds, these unique proposals are solutions to reconstruction through an architecture that is contemporary. In this manner, new types of housing can be built on the foundations of the traditional houses and introduce a new aesthetic to the village house that likewise can revitalise local economies and culture.
Jane Samuels
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Aurfan, either check "Members Profiles" or click on my name at the end of any message and you get some details. My email is: I will be pleased to help. :)))

Jane, your use of the word "gabion" rang a bell. I have a very eclectic library. I have a few military engineering books with my vernacular architecture books. As books on "military engineering" are uncommon, I have only have one British book dated 1911, an American textbook dating from the 1970s and an english copy of German Military Engineering dated 1942. These books are useful, in the sense that they show how to quickly build shelters from local materials.

My own feeling about military expertise is the armed forces of any country are the best trained source for handling disasters and I believe (hope) in the future the role of the military will change from warfare to disaster relief.

Overall, as I hope I have said before, there is the urgent short term need to create temporary shelter for people from the coming winter and then there is the long-term need to build housing which will at least be safe in future earthquakes.

I do not know for sure, but I believe the widespread appearance of concrete throughout the world has disrupted and displaced vernacular or traditional architecture. Disrupted, in the sense that traditional building techniques and localised knowledge are dismissed and forgotten as "old means bad"; and displaced, in the sense that the local and mainly technologically uneducated builders/handymen often create badly constructed works because of the poor concrete mixing and inappropriate use.

Therefore it is essential in the long-term that the local people do play an active part in any reconstruction work and learn how to design and maintain locally sustainable buildings by using local sources of building materials.
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank,

I must appreciate the efforts you take in writing everything in details and at length.

My perspective on post-disaster housing is, that it needs to be addressed with a very sensitive and 'restrained' manner-attitude.

Jane has pointed out a case in Kosovo where the houses were rebuilt using a 'system' that allowed people to participate and build their houses and develop a 'contemporary' aesthetics. When 'shelter building' is imbibed with creative endure by people themselves, it becomes much more meaningful for people who stay and for others who experience as outsides.

I think this precisely is the charm of 'vernacular' architecture. Sometimes vernacular buildings may not be 'refined' in aesthetic-vocabulary or richness but they seem to exude a 'sense', which is natural and living.

Post-disaster relief response on the lines you are proposing with sheet metal or corrugated sheets is something I disagree with. This looks the 'only' fast solution to sheltering problems, but their are two fall-outs of the process:

    1. If these 'shelter' tend to stand their for a couple of years, it starts making subtle but critical inroads on the way people perceive and respond in a surrounding, and also their idea of a 'house' starts taking a definitive shape, based on sheet-metal boxes. In the process, subconsciously driving out the traditional 'materials or forms' as useless.

    2. If at all the agencies end up providing 'house' as rehabilitation program, what do we do with whole sheet metal? Where do all these things go?

The challenges in the post-calamity housing responses are multi-level and intertwined. To begin with immediate relief shelters are absolute necessity. But they must be looked at with a long-term perspective of their 'performance' over years. When I was posing the question of relatively minimal theoretical and constructive 'discourse' on post-calamity housing, these were some of the concerns.

Yes, I do understand that it is relatively a young area where 'professionals' are getting involved. And so will take some time before we have some framework to work with. The publications you are suggesting are part of this framework. If you could suggest a work, which takes a critical overview of past case-studies of some post-calamity housings and develop some understanding, that will be helpful. I have seen none? Whatever you get is a documentation of donor agencies who have financed these housings. You may say that at this point when there is a need to build urgently what is the point in discussing theory? It is a time to act. But...

Another dimension of this discussion is relatively minimal involvement of 'architects' and 'designers' in the formal articulation of housing and spaces. The money in this sector is lot, but probably the channels through which it flows is still beyond reach of a 'professional architect'. It has its own dynamics and operational structure to which 'traditional' role of architect is yet to subscribe to. But there is slow but sure entry of some architects and it is going to shape the course of this 'housing' in some ways.

As the initial point put in by Aurfun clearly indicates the scale and the magnitude both in terms of resources as well as money involved in this sector. The players are of different nature, in such a situation architects must take on a role of part of system and not to 'lead', we still carry subconsciously the Howerd Roark of Fountanhead with us everytime.

Look forward to some comments from you. It has been exciting reading your interesting thoughts.


Vaibhav Kaley
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Jane, Ouch! I was being in no way dismissive of rubble-filled gabions which can quickly replace walls and act as load-bearing parts of the structure.
Nor was I putting down (or putting any mind block) upon the natural inventive abililty of people in disaster areas.

And with regard to the military. I was looking to the future, when they do not make man-made disaster areas, but work to change their role to reconstruction in natural disaster areas. I have lived through the "4 Minute Warning Cold War" and it is the politicians who authorise the buying of such disgusting weaponary.

Vaibhav, I was not advocating the use of steel sheet shelters, merely looking at the practical problems involved.:)

As you say, if too many of these steel sheet shelters are used, then there will be a natural tendency to add these into the design of the local vernacular. The way that I was lookig at thee shelters was as something covered over so that the local vernacular is not warped.

This is also the same point I made at the start: that making quantities of pre-fabricated house shells makes for an ugly vernacular. Whereas, I was putting forward the concept of a pre-fab core within and not a shell outside.

Yes, you are right about the way International (Relief) Agencies and local architects do not usually work together. I was trying to be polite and by not mentioning the fact that the non-technologically-minded bureaucrats in these International Agencies tend to be more interested in "One size fits all" absolute solutions, and so tend to be dismissive of both inhouse and outside expertise which does not agree with their pigeon-hole reality.

Given the size of the disaster, the end result in terms of what is built in the reconstruction will neither be simple nor universally uniform and I imagine that there will be as many different solutions as there are problems.

I agree with you, to rehash a saying I know: "You are only valuable as your ability to serve." In other words architects are valuable for their ability and expertise and and so should be active in creating what the people want rather than dictating design.
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank,

I'm not saying rubble and gabions are the only way, but there is a very real issue here on materials, implementation and participation, international agencies and the role of architect. It needs a fair chance in the discussion!

Some years ago we built a vernacular contemporary home, using only local materials and passive solar technology. We used stone from local quarry, even dug the foundations ourselves. These experiences inspired me to study architecture. All the work I do now began here. And I have driven across the Himalayas not far from Kashmir into northern India. It will be a very hard winter with no home. Inshallah, there will be enough good will, aid and emergency structures to help these people.
Jane Samuels
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
To all those who have been contributing to the discussion of replacement housing for these people...

I have been off-line for a week or so, working on designs and solutions for a couple of projects and then today an existing customer of ours came back and asked that we supply the finished structures for some 'field' hospitals in Pakistan...

This medical supply company knows of our methods. I work as a designer for a contruction firm in Singapore and aside from the commercially viable jobs we, also do a few 'out of the ordinary' type jobs and shelters and 'emergency' module hospitals are some of them.

With regard to using of rubble... I have been involved rebuilding homes after earthquakes, I am from New Zealand, and have lived in this area of Asia amongst the locals as well -- Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and now Singapore. I have seen the 'architectural' versions of 'shelters' and they often are very interesting concepts but without thought for the local ways. They are often totally foreign in design and function to the local users, the people needing shelter. While I have seen people scramble out of the mud and the broken concrete structures that were once there homes, there is never enough rubble to rebuild enough shelters in time.

Our business is heading up to Pakistan in the next couple of weeks for what could be a very long stay. We have three field hospitals to build, each one about 500m2 each, and on the way we are going to take a lot of materials and methods with us. If any one wants to contact me directly, will get me. I would like to hear from Aurfan Sadiq.

Take care and God bless...
David Michael James Davies
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Hi, Frank, thanks for all your comments.

Do you see super adobe as a present and viable option for the quake victims? I am setting up a group to go out to Pakistan and provide basic shelter. What role can you play in this endevour?

Aurfan Sadiq
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Aurfan, Hmm, Super Adobe is news to me, but using my knowledge of all the other forms such as sun-dried mud brick and rammed earth. I assume it is some form of "stabilised earth" architecture.

I have read about the use of watery cement being poured onto the ground to make a "stabilised earth" base, so maybe this is what Super Adobe is?

Yes, I would be pleased to act as a sensible "sounding board" for you from here in Turkey. Before I did my study and training in architecture, I was a Marine Engineer and later an Industrial Production Controller (which is a form of logistics appled to manufacture):)))

As for a more active role, I have a few problems of my own (my settlement in Turkey) and the resolution is not in my hands; which means that at the moment I cannot predict nor plan my own future.

Jane, Thank you for sharing the start of your way into architecture. I feel many architects today have lost their original role of the Mimar or Master Builder living and working "on site"; so your introductory experience into architecture cannot be bettered.:)))

My own life experience is "slow-lane eclectic" as I trained (fresh from high school) to be a Marine Engineer before moving into the management and control of manufacture and then, as a mature adult of 35, I moved to architecture. These days, due to the uncontrolled bias, prejudice and malice of ageism in Britain I am a currently a partner in a private centre for foreign languages (english, etc) in Turkey.
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear All...

Very interesting discussion, & I think we were at the brink of solution to 'Earthquake-resistant Shelters' in Kashmir.

First of all we need to understand, that we can't look at earthquake in isolation. We also need to understand the issues of landslides, steep slopes, etc.

Hence if Random rubble masonry works very well for single storied structures in plains of Latur or even Gujarat (haven't heard though), it may not work everywhere in mountains of Kashmir. Remember that R/R (Random rubble) uses wicde, but not very deep foundation, which may be rendered useless in slopes.

(I am not touching the topic of landslides at this point of time as a lot of it has got to do with town-planning issues rather than just building-construction related issues)

We will probably need 'deep' foundations with light-weight structures. Now CGI (Corrugated, galvanised Iron) sheets soundc a very good option from this point of view, however considering the insulation factors, wood seems a much-much better option.

So what do we do with the stone available in abundance, well, maybe we can put up combo-walls of R/R & plain (rich) concrete with (ahem)... a dash of lime?? Well, that is if someone could enlighten us on the availability & usability of lime in Kashmir. This is because cement & ordinary fired (clay) bricks are expensive.

So may be we ae reaching at a solution. However, we also need to define whether we're building single or double storey? Houses will be near streams & at realtive plains or slightly up on steeper contours? If cement is available at reasonable prices, I think precast/prefab is possible, but I need someone to clear my doubts about pricing.

Architects are definitely a bit away from direct involvement, primarily because of lack of awareness amongst ordinary people about architects. I wish that Council of Architecture could do something about it. Why Kashmir, how many houses are really designed by architects and engineers before being built in Delhi itself? It is rumoured (official statistics are apparently not out yet) that 75% of Delhi's buildings will collapse if faced with earthquake (I believe that they are talking about near 6.75+ Richter scale).

So that's a different issue. What happens after the agencies build shelters & leave? Life back to what it was, because no mechanism is set at place to follow up on regular maintenance of buildings. Who will do that? HUDCO Building Centres? I doubt, unless they get contracts from NGOs or the government. Private poor villagers cannot even afford that.

I think hence, we need to tackle two issues here - solid technology coupled with its CONTINUITY!

More later ....
Chitradeep Sengupta
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Hi, David Micheal James
Please send me ur current contact details. You can contact me on

Best Regards

Aurfan Sadiq
Aurfan Sadiq
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, You can get lime from a number of sources. Burn seashells and you will get powdered lime. Burn/heat limestone and you get powdered lime. Lime in essence is limestone without any water; when you add water you get a chemical reaction which recombines the lime into stone mortar and such stone mortar is a form of natural cement.

I do not know the geology of Kashmir, but hopefully there are areas which can be quarried for limestone which can be converted into lime for lime mortar.

Without checking in my books (boxed and inaccessable), I believe TUFA rock is a form of limestone and the Romans used powdered Tufa as natural cements both for use on land and underwater.

Regarding landslides, soil on slopes is not stabilised and liable to slip if there is no vegetation. Where there are trees, bushes and grasses on a slope, their roots act as a fibrous flexible net and will hold the soil together. Deforestation (or the total removal of trees, bushes, etc) from any slope will destabilise soil, cause landslides and allow rainwater/meltwater erosion.

One way of reducing both landslip and erosion on reasonably steep bare soil slopes is by building stone wall terrances which can be used as strip fields. Remember, "dry stone" walls can be made without mortar or cement and will last with regular maintenance.
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
To all,

The attached is a report I received last evening from Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre in Pakistan: for your information and action through your networks and websites.

    "Dear donors and friends,

    We have been running since 10th October to try and respond to the urgent need for relief work - I am sending you the appeal we sent out and a write up on what SG has managed to contribute to the JAC - Earthquake Relief Efforts (Joint Action Commitee for Citizens' Rights).

    The main work on the ground has been through organisations that have been working in these areas previously, with those of us like SG doing our bit from Lahore in terms of raising money and sending goods/materials as needed. The first call was for shrouds since the markets ran out of cloth for the now over 75,000 dead; then for masks which were also not available the situation made unbearable with the number of decomposing bodies; this was coupled with food and tents, blankets and warm clothes.

    We have concentrated on working with Sungi Development Foundation which has 150 field workers in the NWFP province area (Abbotabad, Mansera, Hazara) and the progressive groups linked to the Labour Party in the further northern areas of Paniola in Rawalakot District where at 6000feet above sea, the night is now minus 3 degrees celsius and dropping rapidly. The priority is shelter and we gave up on tents which are not available and also insufficient for the winter where there is 7-8 feet of snow. We're working against time to get roofs or materials for walls and now looking at new types of construction devised by others at a cost of Rs. 17000-25,000 that could last well through the winter and possibly for a couple of years with material that is environment friendly and re-usuable and quick to construct.

    We have raised money from all our friends but the need is so great that every bit counts - we would be more than happy for you to carry the appeal on your website or in your newsletter which reaches so many across the world. We are now also worried about news of possible kidnapping of girls and children and security issues in camps as well as future reconstruction.

    Gulnar Tabassum '' Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre

Jane Samuels
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Jane, Quickly, Snow acts as insulation, and can be compacted to form building blocks. Compacted snow should remain intact until the thaw in the spring.

The igloos the Eskimos build of ice blocks retain their shape because on the inner surface a thin skin melts in the warmer air and then refreezes.

Igloo construction is a domed structure with a tunnel entrance to keep the air within warmer than the outside.

Snow "sculpture" houses are built in Sweden and Finland during the winters and are made of compacted snow blocks.

Using "compacted snow housing" should keep the out the worst factor of the winter which is "wind chill".

As no doubt the ground is frozen solid, so earth architecture will have to wait for the ground to thaw in the Spring.
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Frank John,

Thanks a lot for the info. My question is: What kind of furnaces or kilns do we need to fire limestone? (I believe it is called calcination or something similar). What kind of effort, energy & investment is required? I am just trying to get the picture of costs involved in setting up up plant. I am aware that a few plants exist around Delhi, but I have no idea of operational costs or commercial benefits... This is for the sustainibility part.

Yes, dry stone walls or pitching is done to retain normal slopes & 'netting' is done for 'abnormal' slopes. We add cement only in critical cases. But will this be valid for a zone that is the hot-bed of earthquake? (Meeting point of two continental shelves). Yes, in shallow slopes definitely, but the slopes that I remember having seen, many will required 'cementing'. You may disagree because I don't have facts & figures at this point of time.

I do agree with you that intense vegetation especially of the 'deep' rooted kind will help avoid soil erosion. Also when large dams are built (even across borders) genuine geo-technical as well as socio-economical assesments need to be done.

Coming back to building technology; my mind is set on a 'deep'-ish foundation generally, & I have some doubts about soundness of use of stone (R/R) over such a foundation which I guess would be of RCC (??); primarily because of the weight of stone & thickness of walls required.

Is there a alternative to such walls apart from wood (unless wood is cheap there?) Or is it that the foundation can be re-thought of?

Someone had talked about adobe... But adobe in eartquake prone area like this? Viability?
Chitradeep Sengupta
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank, Jane and Chitradeep,

The discussion is moving towards the exploration of possible building methods and materials in event of such a calamity or disaster.

Vernacular building methods, using stonewalls, rubble-masonry, lime-mortar are time tested techniques and are embedded in the peoples lives. The new materials like Sheet metal, RCC are 'symbols of aspirations' for people across society, and represent a certain 'status' in the social structure. So the issue is how do you strike a balance between what 'people' aspire for and what 'we think' is best suited.

I also perceive, a post-disaster housing or building works as an opportunity to insert new materials and methods into mainstream of building-construction practices. The insertion of new methods and materials will create a tension between what was and what will be, and in the process help evolve a new aesthetic and building vocabulary.

In this context, what Chitradeep is pointing towards, 'sustainability and viability' of the proposed building methods could be one of the parameters. I am not familiar with the context of Kashmir or Pakistan, but Bamboo could be an excellent building materials in responding to 'earth-quake prone' areas.

Bamboo is lightweight and extremely resilient material. There are number of interesting studies and new parameters evolved by prof. Jules Janssen from Netherlands to evaluate Bamboo vis-a-vis other conventional building materials.

Bamboo offers a great potential for housing and other related sectors, from relief structures to semi-temporary buildings in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth and the only resource which provides us with ready-to-use timber within three-five years of its growth. It can be used in combination with other conventional building methods and where it is performing to its utmost potential. This is with respect to what Chitradeep was saying, heavy-stonewalls and heavier foundations etc. So, you can explore this material and building-systems in conjunction with bamboo for this area or in general, to be prepared for disasters that are in waiting.

Vaibhav Kaley
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, Firstly, I do not know the commercial way of producing limestone cements other than the need to remove all of the water (dehydrated lime). It may be possible to physically crush to a powder dry Limestone or Tufa and use that as a cement material?

The optimum solution would be for the people in Kashmir to produce their own cementing materials rather than having to truck supplies up the mountains. So I have just sent an email to a friend who is a senior professor of Geology to ask him if there are local sources of Limestone or Tufa in the Kashmir. :)

On the question of foundations for buildings, I would say that a platform foundation or raft would be better than foundations only under the walls.

Foundations need to be heavy enough to support the whole building, but as I wrote earlier, I advocate a "core of (stone, rammed earth, concrete) ground floor walls" upon (and about) which a much lighter fibrous frame structure can be built and where there is any doubt about the stability of the ground, then use piles.

My own view of "earthquake-resistant" vernacular design is that solid ground floor walls carrying a lighter frame structure will mean the ground floor walls are less likely to collapse under the lighter weight of the floor above.

As an ex-marine engineer who learnt about marine architecture. I naturally think in terms of designs floating on a moving surface. So earthquake-resistant buildings need to be like lifeboats to handle variable dynamic sideways forces as well as the static force of gravity.

Almost all building design on land is geared to the static downward force of gravity only; even if a land designed building is TILTED at an angle to the horizontal it may easily collapse.

Then consider violent sideways shaking and twisting of the ground as in an earthquake and land designed buildings collapse like houses made of cards.

Before I entered the field of (Land) Achitecture, I intuitively invented and patented a land house design based upon marine architecture principles.:)))
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
I posted the report from the NGO in Pakistan for several reasons, firstly a realistic brief of cost, climates and timescale of emergency shelter. Frank, your knowledge of materials and applications and references is simply remarkable. Even igloos! Referring to your earlier calling in the military, Oxfam is proposing winter tents with felt etc. They have appealed to the military and governments of every country to go through their extra stocks of winter tents and deliver in order to avoid humanitarian disasters. On the subject of reconstruction well worth reading is the architect in Pakistan Arif Hasan 25th of October. The web site is

This answers many of the topics questions. A multi-layered analysis and focus on the collective working together of local village communities and an entire programme of activities. On the subject of materials he proposes to remove all the rubble and retrieve useable materials in a rubble-removing cash-for-work programme over the winter months. He believes understanding the damaged structures and what has survived can lead them to develop cheap and new earthquake resistance building technologies rather than relying on imported literature in his opinion. They are already working on self building manuals and materials.

I am following with interest the building technology discussion on lime and construction details. No doubt there is a possibility for new methods and materials including bamboo at one end of the spectrum or Davids light weight non welded steel structural frames for the Hospitals. I still have wonder for R. Khosla's gabion rubble house which was compacted rubble--a solution to all the rubble. The reason why I play down the concrete is that the rubble village house appears to look like elegant curved and sturdy stone walls. Most truly a new aesthetic and contemporary. Possibly not so practical in a mountain slope with landslides. In answering Vaibhav Kaley, I do think getting the balance between all these aspects, economical, environmental, materials and the social concerns of the culture is what makes for great architecture and human settlements. How this happens well we can look to the stars for compassion, as they are limitless, listen to wise teachers, and do it. And sometimes get it wrong and sometimes get it right, in time and timeless with all these factors.

Frank, I worked in Turkey for some time. Beyond the subject of earthquakes but still speaking of hospitals my most favourite is the Seljuk Medical Centre built by a woman I believe-- Berham Sah's daughter Melike Turan Melek in 1228 in Divrigi, east of Sivas.
Jane Samuels
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear all, Surfing about the ARCHNET categories I found most thoughts about pre-disaster and post-disaster design in "Building Technology" and one entry topic in "Architectural Education" entitled "earthquake resistant rural and urban architecture".

Firstly, I am concerned that there appears to be a yawning conceptual gap between those who are interested in (a) disaster design, (b) vernacular design, (c) traditional design and (d) green / sustainable design.

To my way of thinking all of the above are aspects of an awareness that there is a need for "targeted architecture" designed to work within specific local cultures, climates and environments.

Therefore may I suggest that ARCHNET add another category such as "disaster sustainable design" to maintain the interest rather than a Group Workspace which may be missed by members?
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Vaibhav Kaley,

That's a great suggestion - bamboo. I think that would be great, if somehow, bamboo cultivation is encouraged in Kashmir. It is definitely used in Assam. I have seen it being used in West Bengal. What particular pre-conditions are there to growing bamboo?


Frank John Snelling,

There is a place called 'Spiti' near Indo-Pakistani border in Kashmir. This place is supposed to have limestone (just found out). In order for earthquake resitant buildings to be 'floating' on ground, they need to be built on similar principles as ship, which is a bit expensive. Raft foundations do quite well in this regard however, full foundation slab could be better, but it does require total RCC construction, which could also be expensive (unless someone has alternate facts & figures).

What is your 'land architecture' design principle about? I mean what is it about? Where have you used it?
Chitradeep Sengupta
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, Good news about "Spiti" having limestone. The geology professor I emailed says limestone is a common rock. I know lime/cement is produced from limestone when water is totally removed by heat or fire, but as I wrote earlier, maybe crushing dry limestone to powder may work. Alternatively, maybe a new process could be developed which uses a vacuum and minimal heat to extract the moisture from limestone.

Sorry, I did not express myself clearly about "floating on the surface". I was describing the difference between land architecture and marine architecture. Ship design (similar to aircraft design)is based on the principle of a self-contained space-frame structure which does not use gravity for integrity.

Therefore, optimum earthquake-resistant building design would be net/web-like space frames such as Buckmaster Fuller's "Geodesic Dome". Of interest is the fact that the traditional land architecture equivalent to traditional and modern ship design is wooden-frame houses such as Turkey's Ottoman Konaks.

My mention of a raft type foundation is that a raft even without reinforcement, would retain integrity better than only having foundations under the walls. Regarding the need for the "tension-element" reinforcement of concrete. I believe naturally fibrous materials (such as reeds, wood, bamboo, etc) can be used as substitutes for steel rods. Essentially, the standard steel "cage" reinforcement used for today's concrete is a space frame set within a solid.

The marine architecture principles that I intuitively used in my patented house design are (a) space-frame (as above) and (b) the "centre of buoyancy" was above the "centre of gravity". NOTE: Ships with a centre of gravity above the centre of buoyancy are top-heavy, turn turtle and sink. Land architecture design almost always ignores this basic principle of marine architecture.

Almost the only land architecture which does not ignore this principle are the Pyramids in Egypt and Mayan temple towers in Central America. Another way is the "hung building" such as an old church spire (tower roof) in England which is literally held in place by a central hung weight. I believe this old "hung design" concept has been used for more than one modern earthquake-proof building, but the cost is high.
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Frank John,

Centre of Gravity is a very basic factor. In todays world with skyscrapers, this factor becomes all the more essential, however .. as expensive also. I am not aware, where is the C.G. for the numerous competing' skyscrapers today in the cities of Shanghai, Hongong, Kaula Lumpur, N.York, Singapore, London, etc., but talking about geo-desic domes & such structures, I came across an interesting site of St. Mary's Axe (whatever they wanted to axe :)).

It is interesting.... concept of geodesic domes, ... essentially is like having exo-skeleton (like ants) instead of endo-skeleton (like humans, animals).

Coming back to C.G.... in rural areas in this subcontinent, most houses are 1 storeyed ... 2-3 storeys are rarity, but can be found in some places. In such low height structures, it is possible to have the CG concentrated near the `base' of the building... What will you consider the base? - base of Fondation or, the Natural ground level, ..or the Plinth level?

Normally in a highrise, it becomes difficult to ensure that the CG remain as low as possible, hence, instead, the Foundation is dug deep .. this ensures that partly the CG goes down to a lower height, & that instead of just the C.G., the `grip' of the foundation in the soil, etc. take care alongwith the tensile `binding' members of the building structure.

Yes in most single to 3-storeyed structures, being masonry structures, most commonly use bricks, rocks, soil, do not take care of `non'-vertical forces. However, there are many places like North-eastern parts of India, parts of West Bengal, etc. where rural houses are made of bamboo. In Assam they build houses on stilts .. apparently to take care of floods as well as earthquakes. These are lightweight & strong & have all requisite tensile properties.
Chitradeep Sengupta
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, Skyscraper buildings in earthquake prone areas are the triumph of megalomania over common sense. :(((

In earthquake prone areas the "Centre of Gravity" of designs should be as low as possible, at ground level or below for optimum. Coupled with a space frame design using flexible fibrous tension elements, you have a robust design. Two things (belatedly) come to mind:

(i) A cheaper form of flexible tension to the standard steel rod cage may be a heavy duty chicken wire net, or chain-link "metal mesh" fencing.

(ii) When describing the use of a solid-walled core for the ground floor with a lighter frame structure above, I forgot to mention the logic, which in effect incorporates a soft shear plane/crumple zone between the two structural forms.

Yes, exo-skeleton is a way to describe marine space-frame design, although the strength lies in having an universally interlocking space-frame like a three-dimensional net/honeycomb, so stresses and strains are evenly distributed.

A prime example was the British Wimpey Bomber of WW2 with a geodesic airframe that could fly with serious damage, unlike normal aircraft designs.

I assume the growing of bamboo needs a lot of water all the year round, so are there all year water supplies in the Kashmir apart from the lakes?

A last thought, if sustainable (using mainly local materials) neo-vernacular architectures can be developed which are earthquake resistant. Then I doubt people will object to new forms. :)))
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

Thank you for the info on water required all year round for bamboo growing, which is why it is grown in the 'wet' states of Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, etc... I was just wondering if there was something amiss.

I could not understand the logic on crumple zone very clearly. Which particular zone in your structural form are you talking about?

By the way, it's nice to avoid crumple in buildings:) You can't always tell the poor fellow not to use that portion as bed-room, but as a store, especially if he has a large family and decides to store everything in the 'outhouse':)

Talking of meshes, that is normally what becomes an essential part of structural design. Have you heard of ferro-cement technology? It uses chicken meshes and cement mortar to create 1" thin members. Similar technique can be used to have earthquake resistant (not earthequake proof) small rural houses.
Chitradeep Sengupta
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, What I meant by "a soft / shear plane / crumple zone" was an intentional horizontal fracture plane between the heavier masonary (stone, brick, rammed earth, concrete) ground floor and the lighter fibrous frame upper floor. Such a design would tend to shear sideways along this horizontal plane in an earthquake, so allow for and use this effect in the design.

Earthquakes are massive conductive type vibrations which shake buildings like the ripples along a whip to the tip in a whiplash crack, a "soft" shear plane will tend to absorb and spread energy. A very old analogy of this is the way an Oak tree can break in a storm, but reeds bend with the storm winds.

Optimum design would be a completely fibrous 3D space frame and infill, but I doubt if there are enough locally grown trees, bamboo, rushes, etc.

Mesh / net / honeycomb are all forms of thin (two dimensional) geodesic space frames where the structural integrity does not rely upon gravity. :)))
Frank John Snelling
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank and Chitradeep,

I am folowing the discussion everyday. About bamboo: it neeeds water all year around, the information is not completely correct. One can check some websites. But I know that bamboo is the only plant on earth (rather) a grass which grows requiring minimal water for maximum height. It is found almost in 75% of Indian subcontinent as natural habitat.

Most of the building materials you are discussing are neither found in Kashmir or manufactured in this region. In this respect, bamboo can be very critical resource to provide 'earthquake' resilient house-forms. All that I could understand from the building-type that will be earthquake resilient, able to take horizontal vibrations etc, bamboo provides really good alternative.

Dear Jane,

I read the article by the architect from Pakistan and it was extremely informative. Thank you for the same. It was interesting to note your concerns and contacts. Have you worked with Romi Khosla? There are a lot of references to his work.

Vaibhav Kaley
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

Honeycomb structure, but with what material? Space frame-type structure, but with what materials? I do not think that the technology of making light-weight bicycles could be of 100% use. We can use the principles. If you remember, the first experimental aircraft wings had similar frames to hold them (double wings??). We call them trusses when used in bridges or for large span beams. We can use this principle, but with what materials? You see, the situation that we are discussing about is long-term utility for rural areas, with limited earnings & hence spending capacity, so this is where bamboo comes into picture. The reason being that even if you reduce steel reinforcements, you cannot reduce the costs to the level of bamboo huts, that I have seen in the villages of West Bengal... Hence, for small houses for village people, we can think small and be close to nature.

I am harping about bamboo (like Vaibhav), because I have no knowledge of any other alternative (including wood). I, of course, know that aluminium, at least for the next 10 years will be light-weight, but will never be cheap enough for the villager.


Do write in or post links so that we can gain some knowledge on bamboo, conditions under which bamboo grows, because I have not seen bamboo growing in large numbers in dry areas, well maybe I have not noticed. I have seen the cheap local wood called 'balli' in Delhi & NCR, I have also seen local hut roofs being framed with bamboo in area of Chhattisgarh to Nagpur, but mixed with local wood. Not so skilled as huts in Assam...
Chitradeep Sengupta
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Bamboo construction
-- Ozgur Basak Alkan, November 18, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Greetings Vaibhav,

Thank you, I am glad you found the article by Arif Hasan helpful. I feel the same way. Next week a UK group of engineers will arrive in Pakistan to review the effects of earthquake. The team including reps from several academics institutions and an Arup representative. In passing I passed on this link of A. Hasan to the Arup rep but I dont think he realised the significance as the team already have a set program. Personally I would hope these visiting international engineering teams would research an appreciation for those working in their own country with the support of village communities. How else can they really make valid recommendations without their input? Maybe he will find it useful in retrospect. I hope so as I would like to see a clearer recognised framework set out for how these different agencies and experts coordinate their activities in terms of local governance, planning and sustainability.

As to construction my first real studies were to make a brief journey into the architecture of the Western Himalayas and travelled to many places. I came across a book of detailed research and constructions including a reference to what I believe Frank calls a soft sheer plane crumble zone! The book described a random rubble wall traditionally prevalent in the village house of Lahoul, Chamba and Kangra. The construction used alternate three or four courses of stone with a continuous course of timber to help stabilise the stone wall against earthquake dangers. However today as the timber is less available the text explained the constructions seemed to abandon the timber completely.

This discussion on structure is crucial and I know this Wellington bomber idea as my father now 80 years is an avid astro aviation engineer so we had real airplanes and more built in the house much to the annoyance of my mother. It is his opinion this construction was amazing but very skilled and costly. If you have a look at the web-link you can see:

I believe Frank, you are trying to make a point about exo skeletons structures for the case of the discussion not so much on materials. Yes bamboo is wonderful and I suddenly remembered I had seen it a few years ago while in Dharamsala visiting friends in the Kangra valley. As far as I know the Kangra valley, Himachal Pradesh, is at about 1,250 meters. I have seen a series of houses using bamboo which grows to some heights with stunning views of the snow covered Himalayas. Have a look at this link.

This woman used the bamboo instead of steel. Forgive me Vaibhav, if you already know of this! As to work with R. Khosla,yes city planning, culture and governance but I didnt really have a choice in the matter!
-- Jane Samuels, November 18, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

Thanks for the links. The links within these discussion forums were also useful. Your point about climate is very well taken. However, although that is a very important point, we also need to know that the structural stability of the building is of equal importance.


Your links were interesting, in fact I spent more time seeing the 'astro' link rather than the Himachal one .. :) One point that comes to my mind is that we may need to avoid soil, the reason being that soil erosion too is now a dangerous thing in the mountainous regions. Plus, let me inform you that though, technically, top soil is not supposed to be used in soil based construction, the land becomes useless & top soil is literally thrown away for making bricks (I mean compresed earth blocks, & not fired bricks .. though they have same problems) or sourcing soil for mud-based construction..

I would still like to explore bamboo...
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, November 19, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

I believe there are hundreds of different types of bamboo growing in China, Indo-China, etc. But I do not know if there are types which grow at very high altitudes. Bamboo may be the fastest growing plant on the planet, but water is needed for growth.

The primary questions with bamboo (or with any material) are (a) is it is possible to grow bamboo in the Kasmir? or (b) transport in supplies cheaply?

Bamboo, like wood is a fibrous material with tensile strength capable of flexing and absorbing earthquake energy, but to built all-bamboo structures is probably too expensive an option for the rural people in the Kashmir. Plus, while wood had good thermal insulation properties, bamboo is probably less useful as the round shape needs more infill in the cracks to keep out the wind and cold.

Other factors to consider are: (a) Is bamboo more resistant to decay than wood? and (b) Can "green" (unseasoned) bamboo used for building?

Making buildings in rural areas which have no through traffic and therefore no regular system of transport must be a major factor in the decision to build using local raw materials (stone, clay, wood, straw, etc) or locally processed materials such as cement/lime mortar.

I know cement is normally associated with concrete, but before modern "all concrete" buildings appeared, lime (or cement) mortars where used for both stone and brick load-bearing walls and so there is no reason against locally producing cement mortar for homes.

Chitradeep, I am not advocating the use of metal space-frames. I am using the term "space-frame" as a generic design principle. Honeycomb and space-frame are simply ways of describing web-type structures and can be applied to any appropriate material. Honeycomb design can be used for masonry wall clusters and space-frame design can be anything made of bamboo, wood, rope, wire, etc.
As you say early aircraft had double and triple wings with trusses between which originated in the "box-kite" and these are all forms of space-frame.:) Another excellent two-dimensional space-frame is the portable wooden lattice used for the walls of Mongol Yurts.:)

Soil erosion on the slopes is serious because if the top soil is stripped off like in the American "Dustbowl" in the 1930s, then there will be nothing left. Top soil is important because it has most of the fibre, nutriments, etc. If the slopes are terraced then this will slow the immediate physical erosion and allow time for top soil to be created.

Ozgur, your question on inside heating reminds me of an ancient Middle Eastern method of heating homes, with an oven- type fire under the sleeping platform.

Jane, I mentioned the Wimpey Bomber to show that space-frame design does not rely upon gravity for integrity. The standard Land Architecture assumption that "the ground never moves", actively creates designs that kill people. So I am trying to put forward design forms which will reduce future death rates.

Yes, horizontal wooden layers are used in the lower/ground masonry walls of Ottoman timber-frame houses. And, yes, such layers act as tension elements to counter earthquake ground movements. I imagine bamboo can be used similarly.
-- Frank John Snelling, November 20, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

As an after thought, I wanted to a point of doubt about growth of bamboo in Kashmir. Is the temparature (cold & variation) suitable? Is Chinese Bamboo (grown in cold climate .. I suppose ...) different from Indian Bamboo?
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, November 20, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Jane,


I must appreciate the efforts you took to inform the ARUP team about the local situations in Pakistan and get them see the "context" as it is and not as we "like to imagine". But I suppose this "intellectual paradigm" is difficult to escape for a "formally" educated person coming from a Western cultural background. Well, we can go on and explore socio-cultural aspects of this issue but will not add to any constructive argument for this particular discussion.

I have heard a lot about Didi Contractor in-fact one of my friend even worked there for half an year to get a hands-on-experience. And your memory is good because I know that bamboo is available in some upper parts of Himalayan foothills' region. The bamboo as pointed out by Frank might not provide us with optimum performance, as it will tend to have less thermal insulation properties, being tubular in cross section difficult to combine in the conventional construction-system that is so much straight-jacketed.

Maybe bamboo can be integrated into what you have described as traditional built-form, with three-four courses of rubble-masonry with Timber for stabilization of walls. Bamboo can actually replace timber as a frame-making element which provides a continuous sheer plane to resist the "local" damage of corners or junctions.
It can also be integrated with an idea suggested by Frank, in having solid core in the ground-floor with timber-frame light structure on the top. It needs further work and development.

Bamboo may not be "natural" material for Kashmir, but with proper seasoning and treatment can be a better, sustainable alternative to materials like aluminum, steel and concrete. Maybe the "technology" developed would be in an infant state, so will take time before is can be replicated on large scale, but it can kick-start a process. So that next time we are ready with some basic tools and systems to proceed with responding to disaster-situations.

Warm regards,
-- Vaibhav Kaley, November 21, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank and Chitrdeep,

My approach to use of bamboo is not embedded in just "local" material but more from a viewpoint of "appropriate" material for appropriate applications.

As you are aware, bamboo is at weight to weight basis has better engineering properties than steel. That is to say if you employ same amount of material to make some structure, the bamboo has better resilience and performance. Bamboo also comes from a family of grass, and is the fastest growing plants on earth (after sugarcane) but with much less requirement of water as compared. Bamboo has an amazing anatomy and properties.

During the early phase of discussion I was talking about the lack of "constructive" and deliberative dialogue in architecture or engineering for post-disaster housing, I was trying to address this issue of various building systems and materials that are available and can be or should be applied after such disasters. Because one of the observations I have about the application of sustainable building systems or alternative-building materials is that they loose the "competitive advantage" they have in the cliché of local-imported material jargon. So one can try and put them in perspective with respect to its appropriate applications.

So as far as gather from the discussion, we are coming to some common denominators. For walls and surfaces stone walls or rubble masonry with either lime mortar or cement mortar, depending upon the availability. For the foundation, there is still uncertainty as whether should be raft foundation or something else. The timber frames for providing continuous tie members along the walls or surfaces. What would be the roofing material? What would be the roofing understructure? What could be the material for openings and floors?

What typology of buildings? As suggested by Frank, Solid core in the bottom, and building up with lightweight timber structure on top. Or is it going to be on one plane? Can Chitradeep take some effort, as he seems to have a better grasp of structural aspects along with frank to pur together the discussion about the whole "structural-aspect" that is happening on the forum? If you have time?

-- Vaibhav Kaley, November 21, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
(Thanx for giving me the stage :-))

I am still a bit doubtful about the random-rubble approach to be frank. If done properly, it still has a risk factor - damage to human lives if it collapses, plus random rubble has to be tied with seasoned wood in CLOSE intervals. (That brings me back to bamboo again for economics).

We need to start from foundation, which is why I raised the question about how many stories are we talking about. This is where Jane could enlighten us.

1. Single storey - RRM is Ok upto roof lintel level
2. Two Stories - RRM upto sill
3. Stories, - we need to call a structural engineer to PROVE it.

Reason: the higher the building, deeper the foundation. Unless this RR-masonry is tied together very tightly, Frank's remninding us about CG may not hold good.

So, are we talking about heavy panels (cast-in-situ) of RRM tied with heavy structure of bamboo for masonry of foundation upto sill? To me it sounds good in theory until proven in actual test conditions. But, we can explore.

Roof has to be lightweight material with sound tensile properties, which is why wood is preferred (Vaibhav your technical property:weight ratio) as a slab material rather than RCC slabs.

Any sloping roof for the top will do. This will keep out snow and at the same time be structurally sound. Slate apparently is now ruled out in earthquake prone zones, hence we come back to wood. Probably due to its even shape & thickness, as compared to bamboo, we will have to use wood here.

As far as fires are concerned, we need to do a little research on the costs involved in fire-proof treatments w.r.t. actual benefits.

Let's remember that at any point of time, we have an option to build an RCC structure. But then cost:technical property ratio may discourage us.

Again & again I am thinking of long & deep foundation... pile foundation? Or will it be a deep raft?
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, November 21, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, Jane and Viabhav :))) To recap so far:- Primary construction:-Underground level: Solid platform made of mortared stone/rubble. Ground level: Core and cluster walls. Walls blank, made of stone/rubble in mortar/cement. Overall the design creates a monolithic structure of platform and lower walls.

Secondary construction:- Next level: a wooden or bamboo structure for either a roof or upper floor. Note: Wooden or Bamboo "tiles" can be used on the roof.

Horizontal wood or bamboo layers set in the stone/rubble walls act as natural fibre / tension elements and help to bind the stone walls together in the same way as steel rods in concrete.

The stone/rubble mortared walls can either be (a) "load-bearing" and carry the roof/upper floor structure. Or,(b) "non-load-bearing" so that vertical wooden or bamboo posts wll be needed to carry the roof/upper floor structure.

Note: If a vertical frame (wooden or bamboo) is used then an "A" frame is probably better than the rectangular.
Note: "A" type timber-frame buildings are a traditional vernacular design.

Note: The above of course assumes a completely flat and level site; on sloping ground the ground floor can be set into the slope with a waterproof layer to keep the ground floor dry.

The objective of the design as above, is to allow the upper fibre element to flex independently of the lower solid element and thus reduce the effect of the enormous force of an earthquake.

The reason why I advocate this type of low-rise design is because the higher the building the more force there is from an earthquake, as buildings "whip" about their foundations and so the higher the building the more force is created and then exterted upon both the foundations and the building itself.

As I said before and I will repeat, standard "land design architecture" is fatally flawed because it assumes the force of gravity is always a constant in both strength and direction. This FALSE ASSUMPTION kills people every time there is an earthquake and until "land design" architects and engineers understand this simple and inescapable fact of life, people will carry on being killed, maimed and injured in earthquakes.

Using standard land architecture design in earthquake-prone areas is like saying the planet earth is flat.

I know the above design is not optimum, but absolutely garanteed earthquake-proof designs cost too much, so this design reduces the risks for a much lower and locally sustainable cost.

Chitradeep, yes, a cold climate slows growth. In China, various types of bamboo do grow in the mountains. So you would need to research to find a bamboo type which will grow in the Kashmir.
-- Frank John Snelling, November 22, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Frank (or should we call you Sir Frank or Prof. Frank)?

That was a good summation. I just need to add that random rubble is quite heavy and strong too, so I think that it would be a crime not to use its weight and compressive strength to support the floor(s) above.

Land architecture has other fields like structural engineering, which is taught as a separate course (very concisely to architects, and in detail to civil engineers). Here, the dynamic forces are taught, but yes how many actually use them is a question mark. The reason, most probably boils down to cost. If you were to put in the same materials, labour and effort into every hous and building that you would do for a ship or airplane, it is possible that the cost would be too high. Also, everybody needs a house, but not everybody needs planes or ships. So, it basically caters all sections of the society, and these dangerous short-cuts are taken.

You are right that these are not advisable, but the solution? Can the RRM house bear an earthquake of the magnitude that created the killer tsunami (~9.4 Richter I guess). Well? I doubt. You need a pure RCC box that will float on soil to bear that. I hope you are getting my point. But, let's carry on with the main discussion.
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, November 22, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank,

Actually, I completely understood your reference to the bomber was to do with space frames that don't rely on gravity, in contrast to architecture that assumes that land doesn't move. I thought the picture link would help to illustrate this unique construction. I like lots of pictures. Sadly, the earthquake was indiscriminate in which buildings were destroyed so the reconstruction would need to address many concerns which is why there is a need to cross genres to consider solutions.

Indeed, principles are interconnected and interdependent. I agree that the yurt is a remarkable nomadic shelter. It moves across the land, designed to be assembled and taken down. It has moving part as the lattice work is tied at the crossovers and yet can become rigid and stand to strong weather. We steamed the wood to get that curve of the belly in the lattice work. I also found it an inspiration that the circular rim that opens up to sky is sometimes called the eye of the heaven!

In regard to rubble gabion structures, you may want to look at the Earth Centre in the UK. The idea was to build on a demolition site and re-use the rubble. It appears that gabion structures, for many of the reason you have put forward in this discussions, yield to earth movement but maintain full efficiency and remain structurally sound. They are quite unlike rigid or semi-rigid structures which may suffer catastrophic failure when even slight changes occur in their foundations. In reviewing reports from earthquake areas, these structures seem to have held to the strong lateral forces. So where is the principle of your chicken wire or some sort of lattice work included in this current appropriate earthquake resistant proposal?

-- Jane Samuels, November 23, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, Thank you for the titles:)
So can you tell me what "RRM" means?

As regards land architecture design, the point I am trying to make, is that such design AUTOMATICALLY ASSUMES: (a)gravity (or downward force) is a constant with a constant strength (magnitude) and a constant direction (vector), and (b) the site plane is a constant horizontal, never angled. :(

A example of differences even in Marine architecture design, is the difference between a floating pier/dock in the mediterranean Sea which has little or no tide and a floating pier/dock on an Atlantic coast where the tidal rise and fall can be several metres or more.

The solutions for earth-quake resistant land architecture design are available but they will have to be unconventional and unorthodox because the normal, the usual, the standard "land architecture designs" are consistant in failure.

I think a cheap testbed for designs can be built by making a randomly bumpy and variably wavy circular track and then run a vehicle around with large scale models mounted on the back. Vibration and non-horizontal angles will tilt and shake standard design to pieces.

Tsunami Design? This I think can only be a combination of an early-warning system and concrete bunkers for short-term shelter of the local population.

Jane, Yes, images and diagrams can tell more than words as describing shapes in three dimensions by the two dimensional medium of written language is not easy.

Regarding the Mongol Yurt (which is a vernacular geodesic dome). I assume you know that tented platforms with wheels were used as well? Maybe simpler and easier to recreate these tented platforms on wheels (vernacular mobile homes) for people, so that they can roll about in an earthquake?

Yes, you are right, I forgot to mention two-dimensional web/net/lattice frames (chickenwire, etc) in my recap. Sadly, I am unable to work as I would want, in that I use a Turkish language computer at the office and I have no idea how to print this discussion for an offline review/analysis in hardcopy format.

Re: "rubble gabions", reading between the lines, I assume that the rubble in the gabions is loose and the whole held together by chickenwire/wickerwork, so that there is room for movement but not enough to cause the gabion to collapse?
-- Frank John Snelling, November 23, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Frank, I've made the entire thread into a A4 pdf, I put it in my workspace so that others can download it too. After you open it in Acrobat, click on "yazdir" or "yaziciya gonder". (Ctrl+P might also work).

Also, I want to remind us all that not all earthquakes act with clear, lateral forces. The problem with the disastrous Izmit earthquake in 1999 was that a big thump from below made the buildings 'jump up' and once they 'fell' back down, the columns (especially those unbraced ones on the lower floors where shops are usually located) broke down. I wonder how a floating foundation would work in such an earthquake.
-- Ozgur Basak Alkan, November 23, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
RRM = Random Rubble Masonry
CGI = Corrugated Galvanised Iron ... (Sheets)..
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, November 23, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, Thank you. :)))

Ozgur, Thank you. I will try downloading to file. Your point about the difference in ground movements in earthquake raises two issues: (a) There is a need for "low-rise building codes" in earthquake zones, and (b) There is need for retro-design of existing buildings in earthquake zones.

(a)"Low-rise building codes" will help to ensure that buildings are not built beyond (i) the load-bearing capacity of the ground itself, and (ii) the load-bearing capacity of buildings which may have been designed or built poorly.

(b) Retro-design can be (i) the reinforcement of building structure, and / or, (ii) the enforced removal of the top floors of high-rise buildings.

From what I have seen here in Turkey (and please forgive me), I am appalled by the casual, slap-dash "build by eye" building work which fails (for want of doing the job right in the first place) and then has to be as temporarily and as messily repaired again and again.

And in new buildings, I have seen block walls with a cement thickness of about 1mm between blocks and slabs set in cement floors without support. And very seldom do I see lintels for doors and windows, simply brick/blockwork all round. So in earthquake zones, "quality building codes" are needed or they need to be enforced, otherwise even low-rise buildings will continue to collapse.
-- Frank John Snelling, November 24, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

It seems unless codes are implemented and corruption is held at bay by good governance and planning, then all the earthquake advice in the world will not help.

Chitradeep, have you seen this recent report by the national seismic advisor in India Jammu and Kashmir state?

It gives some guidelines for RRC, including a diagram of a wooden band for low strength masonry. (No bamboo yet) They suggest the wooden seismic bands to be placed at three levels, plinth, lintel and the ceiling, so not far off from the traditional construction and all that Frank has proposed. How would you review their findings for RRC foundations and your concerns, of course putting aside the cement mortar mixes?

Regarding the rubble gabion, exactly. the rubble is loose yet compacted. According to my sources some initial site control has been needed to get the packing of rubble right so that future settlement problems don��t arise. In reference to earlier, the sorting of the rubble would be part of the cash for work programme proposed over the winter months. Im not enamoured by the current conference building Earth House (EH) proto-type. The regimented cage rubble look needs some refinement.However initially I'm sure the super adobe idea referred earlier would have needed some research otherwise it is just an exercise in sand bag construction and barbed wire.

Over the last seven years the UK civil engineering gabion construction has evolved to include possibilities, like the trapion version (instead of having vertical front and rear panels, trapions have panels inclined to varying angles for trapezoidal construction). In some cases you can barely see the grids. The success would be in experimenting with the materials, grid size, detailing particularly the proportions and ratios of the length/depth/width of the components to the height of the walls. Once these components are determined is the time to go back to the people and see what they can creatively do with it. Gabions could come unassembled (cheaper) more flexibility, built in situ, wall ties etc to what has already been summed up.

Vaibhav, are you considering these bamboo tech. designs and to table the varieties and characteristics? Otherwise it won't happen in the guidelines for next time. As to the ARUP rep, you might think he was western but he was direct from ASIA. An example of how we may make assumptions of our culture but in reality it comes down to the individual not collective culture.In fact the way we choose and priorities actions are a kind of freedom and many issues come into play.

Frank, I know the mongolian yurt was vernacular geodesic, but I really dont know the platform TOW, tent on wheels solution, except with wagon trains, John Wayne and the Wild West. Im off line for a while!
-- Jane Samuels, November 24, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

Thanx for the link. Please see this website:

This site has links on earthquake related courses, materials online of the same. You will find them very useful. These have been derived out of experience & by some of the key persons in structural engineering in India.

I think you wrote the right thing.

Frank's perception of 'no-codes' available stems from the fact that he is probably not aware that codes for various structures already exist in India & maybe in many parts of the world. However in this industry, the implementation is not correct & controlled. In India atleast, 75-80% of houses are built by owners who have no knowledge of codes .. with the help of what they 'feel' are good people.

What has become essential now in new towns of India is that structural certificate with respect to the earthquake / disaster zone for the building is a pre-requisite for the building to be passed. It was not there before ... but the codes existed ... only to serve as guide for the quality conscious person.
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, November 24, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
I think everyone may be interested in reading the new BBC piece, Rebuilding site. Here's an excerpt:
    "People desperately needed shelters - they were absolutely scared of anything made of concrete because it had been the concrete that had collapsed and killed so many," says Imran. "Tin or wood roofs and floors had survived - but we had no means to build more of those, so we had to try something else."

    In the following days the team began sourcing thousands of "bori bags", essentially very strong, large plastic sacks which can be filled with earth to make insulated, cheap, stable shelters. When Imran left to return home, that effort was continuing.

-- Ozgur Basak Alkan, November 29, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Ozgur, Large plastic sacks "Bori Bags" for filling with "building materials" sounds like a very useful idea.:) My only concern is whether or not such plastic bio-degrades in sunlight?

Over the past week I have been thinking and I observe that both rubble gabions and earth sacks with loose material use the same concept.

The only differences being (a) that earth or sand is physically smaller in size to rubble bits and (b) a gabion uses a semi-flexible envelope and a plastic sack uses a flexible one.

The thought occurs that rubble gabions need not be be made in "fixed shapes", so flexible wire mesh could be used.

I also thought of an inside-out version of the above concept which may be useful as a tensioning element in buildings during earthquakes. I got this thought from the old toy which has a magical "block and string" where the block slids down the string when the string is not taut. Only when the string is pulled taut does the wooden block stop. Using this concept, should be possible to loosely string solid lumps of material together and then in an earthquake this will automatically stiffen during the shock waves. :)

I can well understand the fear caused by concrete buildings which collapse upon the people within. The only things I can say are (a) standard land architecture design does not recognise that gravity can change and so such design will tend to fail, and (b) what I proposed earlier is a hybrid design where concrete is used for foundations and ground floor walls but no higher.
-- Frank John Snelling, November 30, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, I was not proposing asbestos for use, merely commenting :)

Regarding "community kitchens", I think that these would be better than massive soup kitchen type queues, because using smaller cooking facilities means that people are much more likely to get food the way they like it prepared and so more likely to eat and stay alive. :)))

Some thought could be given to either using military mobile "field kitchens" which are designed for use outdoors, or to creating mobile field kitchens for use specifically in disaster areas.

To change the subject, I would be interested to know the how slowly or how fast people in post-disaster areas return to normal everyday life? Specifically: How long after a disaster do people have to live in camps?

I realise that concentrating homeless people into "camps" allows the relief effort to reach the most people, but such artificial concentrations (usually in the middle of nowhere)tend to become semi-permanent or even permenent and so must work against attempts to resettle people into their former home areas.
-- Frank John Snelling, December 1, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

That is social rehabilitation of people. What we were discussing till now cane be termed as "re-settlement".

Social rehabilitation takes time and a lot of psychological effort. This is what the "social" NGOs do. A lot of them are in this field and do their best to make people self-sufficient. For this, schools are re-openned, avle-bodcied members are encouraged to get back to work. Non-working living surviviors are also encouraged to do the same... basically given the urge and psychological support to move forward in life with more vigour. Such efforts don't end with construction of houses... It can take a long time before the family / person can fully recover to lead a normal life. For statistics, however you should go to any "social" NGO website.
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, December 2, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
In addition to the above post:

People prefer to move out of camps ASAP. No one like camps. It could be three months to three years, depends entirely upon the resettlement process.
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, December 2, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, Thanks for your entries. I was thinking about whether or not the fact that "camps are places to leave asap" means there is not much interest and less effort given to the design of such temporary field shelters.

Plus, I imagine that as World interest in helping people in a disaster area vanishes, so does the urgency to build sustainable, vernacular architecture.

Whereas, I believe that the design and building of a sustainable vernacular is THE primary target for recontruction, because this enables people to maintain and later duplicate what is built with local labour, skills and materials.
-- Frank John Snelling, December 3, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

Most camps are constructed in a way that are temporary. There has been little or not thinking about using materials & technology which could be used to build up good quality shelters in one day. Such as pre-shaped wooden `snap-it' kind of system.

Such structures can be built in a day or two & don't need to be high or large like houses. They can be 8ft floor to ceiling instead of 10ft. they can also be compact Small-Family Bed-Room cum kitchen cum toilet unit. Period.

Reason it does not get thought of is that we have plenty of tent & tent materials being used... by sports people, by the army,.. by tourists,.. etc. But no-one uses `pre-shaped wooden houses'. Possibly because of costs as well as weight of the material, etc. Tents are easy to carry...
That is the present day scenario. Economics currently far outweigh the use of wood w.r.t. tents.
However relief shelters are made mainly b y either tents or by CGI sheets on local wood frames. Each of these is hardly a place to call home. even the mud hut with thatched roof of the poorest of the poor in villages will have more space & be more thermally comfortable during summer / winters.
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, December 3, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, Okay, wooden pre-fabricated modular unit dwellings, obviously cost too much to make and transport.

An alternative is to make and transport pre-fabricated wooden or bamboo frame structures with double or triple layer tents to create air-insulation layers.

Single layer tents leak rain-water and wind chill or lower outside temperature will condense human breathe as "running wet" on the inside surface. Whereas, double or triple layer tents will shed water and keep the inside dry and warm.

Plus, such a design can be reused later as an interim roof covering mounted on locally made solid walls when building
or rebuilding a more permanent home.

If CGI sheets are used, the outside surface needs to be covered over with anything to hand (straw, snow, cloth, mud, etc) to cut down on "wind chill".
-- Frank John Snelling, December 4, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Using multi-layered tent material is a very good idea. Will this act as wall & roof both. Where will it start from? The skirting level?
We will need to create a floor also, to protect from the harsh climate outside.

CGI sheets have 2 major problems:-
1. They are very poor insulators.. hence the inside is v.cold in winters & in summers.
2. They tend to fly off in high speed winds & .. can prove to be very dangerous because of the sharp edges.

Tents are safer & better w.r.t. CGI sheets.
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, December 4, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, I mentioned CGI sheeting because you said it was being used. I was not recommending it as a material.

In fact, today there corrugated sheets of a similar size and shape made of plastic (both clear and opaque); plus there are double-skin plastic sheets which act as thermal insulation.

To keep down costs, the double layer of tenting need only be from the ground upwards to form the walls and roof. Then a waterproof groundsheet can be laid with a floor carpet on top to thermally insulate the floor within.

In fact you would have a "double-layer tent", if you used carpet for all the inner layers and thick plastic sheets for the waterproof outer layer. :)))

If the tent has a double layer, then a lobby entrance can be formed between the two layers and this will reduce heat loss from within the tent. :)))

The more insulation there is and the dryer the people are, the healthier the people will be and the less the need to actively heat the tent space within. :)

Traditional tent formation splits at ground level, so there was a waterproof ground sheet layer laid flat within the tent, or turned upwards at the edges within the tent and tied to the bottom edge of the tent wall above to form a flexible cloth "skirting board". I say traditional, because modern tents have an integral ground sheet and so do not allow the person putting up the tent to form the ground into bed-sit platforms.

The main tent types are:- (a) sloping wall and roof, or (b) vertical walls with a sloping roof. Sloping roofs are needed to run off water, snow, etc.

Tent plans are (a) round (as with the Mongol Tent, the Native American Wigwam and army Bell Tent), or (b) rectangular usually with a horizontal ridge pole, or (c) square to round, such as the two-man climbing "pup" tent or the modern luxuary holiday camping tent.

Finally, the position of the tent is as important as the tent itself. Tents should be put on a slight slope with a shallow ditch on the slope above the tent and around the sides and this will allow rain-water to run off and away from the tent, because a tent on flat ground will soon be a muddy swamp. :((
-- Frank John Snelling, December 5, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

It is very intersting. Is it possible for you to put up some graphics on these tents?
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, December 5, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Hello fellow brethren, because we are all each others brother no matter which part of the world we come from.

I have been off line from here for a couple of weeks preparing to travel to Pakistan to build a couple of 'field hospitals'. I made an entry some weeks ago, when we as a business here in Singapore were contacted and plans were made for us to travel to some unknown destination in Pakistan to work with a medical supply company and to build and outfit a couple of 40 bed hospitals complete with surgery, pharmacy and treatment rooms etc. We are now told the first of three will be in Muzafrabad and we are making a investigative tour next week. This is being financed by one of the NGO's and the money is coming from 'out of town'... enough said.

Now, we are building using lightweight steel stud for walls, ceiling joists and roof rafters, out of a machine that we will be taking to site to work with. We will be bringing all the building materials, except for premixed concrete which will be sourced from the local supply industry, the external cladding for the walls and roof are a 'insulated' metal cladding product made in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It uses polyurethane as the insulative material, applied as the steel is rollformed into the roofing profile, and no not the corrugated but one of the modern stepped profile. I am not sure what it is called locally, but it will not blow off, because we do not use nails, it is screwed onto the the steel framed roof panels, it will also be used for the wall cladding, with the polyurethane on the side facing the framing and again screwed on to the framing.

Now, watching the comments on tents and structures like this and from my experience in New Zealand in the manufacturing and construction industry, and from sitting on a design think tanks group in New Zealand, I have a few proven alternatives. One uses the locally ade woven polyester 'tarp' cloth that normally is used to provide short term protection, but to use two layers of the fabric off of a full roll, say 1800 wide, to lay one layer down in a formed tray, and then to use 'two part' urethane mixed and poured into the form tray and covered with a second layer of cloth and let to set. In the setting procedure, the urethane expands to form a foam structure which hardens in minutes and is light enough for a woman to carry to site. Now, by making a series of these panels without cutting the polyester fabric, one can create a natural fold/joint just like one would when creasing a sheet of heavy card.
The polyurethane provides rigidity, water proofness and insulation all at the same time.

I do not know if any other group has thought about this, I used to do this for the 'scout' troop at home for our winter camps in the South Island in the snow and the same process is used to make 'wakeboards' for children to use at beaches, where the fashion is to 'play in the smaller waves' just like the big guys do when they surf the big waves.

Anyway, we are on our way and there are some people who have expressed an interest in our method of building. They can contact me for more information directly at
We are coming with a company of people with specific skills and will be employing the locals to do as much as they can do. This is not a pie in the sky approach but a real one and the outcome is that we are likely to leave a contingent of our people and technology to keep on building using lightweight steel frame. We have built houses in Turkey and an example is attached below. Tose that want to know more, just contact me and I will keep everyone updated... Note that steel frame resists movement by using bracing, and steel framing does not have the 'mass' of other building materials and steel flexes and does not crack like concrete structures. There is a lot in favour of steel frame and I have been in the industry 12 years...

Ciao for now,
-- David Michael James Davies, December 5, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, I do wish I could show some graphics ("a picture tells a thousand words"), because I have a scanner with which to make .JPG images, but I have been waiting for about nine months for (a) my english-language home computer to be connected to the net, (b)book-cases for my books, and (c)both delays are caused by a lack of money, because all of my money is in the business of which I am a partner. I have no idea when this situation will change, so I can only describe images from memory.

Dave Davies. The "polyurethane two layer polyester fabric sandwich" which you described sounds brilliant. :)))

I had thought of mentioning I have seen polyurethane foam (insulation) produced by a machine in a factory for packing material in boxes, but I hesitated because I do not know if polyurethane is an ozone-layer friendly chemical???

Regarding steel: Steel can and does crack both from metal fatigue and cold. Cold is physical problem because steel becomes brittle and snaps in very cold weather. Metal fatigue is a chemical problem caused by (a) repeated stress, (b)flaws in the metal and (c)corrosion.

In terms of structural steel use in the Kashmir, freezing weather and corrosion will shorten the safe life of the steel. Remember, modern material use assumes that the technological infrastructure needed for maintenance is available.
-- Frank John Snelling, December 6, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Doctor Frank, as some have called you, I would call you SIR in big capital letters. Thank you for your response.

Now, firstly polyurethane is ozone friendly, has been for the last 10 years (more on that later). The steel frame we use has been in use for the last 50 years in the snow, in artic condtions in the heat. It is not exposed to the elements, it is covered in cladding and it is not new. What is new is the way we make the frames; no manual measuring and cutting of steel channel, no limited length of section, no pre-made holes required to take screws, rivets or other structural attachments, with out advertising or claiming personal responsibility for this technology.

I would refer you and there view the technology and video clips and pictures of homes built all over the world. Now, as I have said earlier, I have been building for 12 years in nothing but steel frame, we simple take someone's idea of their house plans, decide on room size, draw it in 3D CAD and complete with window and door openings and roof shape, extract the DXF dile which contains all the structural elements, dimensions etc, and use that to build a pictorial display of frames for wall, ceilings, and roof panels complete with structural lintels, and supports for roofs etc.

This process allows you choose what ever stud centres you want depending on the load applied (ie roof loads etc, there are guide tables in the building industry to help you). Understand that this is not 'office partition stud', this is a .75mm thick high tensile galvanized steel channel that can be used to build a three storey house, much like the picture in my previous listing, which by the way is in earthquake prone Turkey.

The files are then exported and to a laptop controlled roll-former, which makes all the framing contained in that pictorial. This is where the saving of time, and technology pay off. The frame components themselves are cut and punched and swaged and formed by the roll-former. All the local construction team have to do is insert rivets into the prepunched holes, and pull the trigger on the air operated riveting guns.

The shape, size and engineered strength is already built into the frame system. These framed walls carry the load; the ceilings joist panels carry load; the roof rafter panels carry load, and they can all be lifted into place without the use of machinery. The material we use is .8kg per metre of length formed, I have had ladies work with me on site, making and standing walls and ceilings nd roofs, in Australia the building training programs have ladies attending courses and learning how to build in this late model technology, their is no welding, no heavy panel lifting, and no manual cutting. A 6 metre x 2.4 metre wall can be carried by two people, and I do not mean big men. The section depth can be 75mm or 90mm. I am bringing the 75mm machine with me first trip and we may bring another machine if the need arises. We can produce 300 lm of framing per hour that equals 25 metres of 3 metre high wall per hour out of a machine that is fed off of a coil of steel that carries about 400 or 500 metres of steel.

The 'cladding' option on these framed walls and ceilings are many. No rubble rock here. Leave that for the foundations and garden edging. We can build in timber based floors, but there are not enough timber supplies, so we will build on concrete floors for the ground level and will indtroduce other methods for midfloors for multistory structures. The base single level home unit can be as small or as big as you want, there is no limit. For the sake of costs and available land however, there needs to be limits. Also, we need to look at the lifestyles our people lead.

On the claddings for the hospital we are using a metal formed panel with polyurethane already applied with a vinyl sheathing over that. The profile is the same as the Lysaught Trim Deck. It has differing names everywhere, I will attach a jpeg of it. That is for the exterior of this structure. On the inside of the hospital we are using dense fireproof gypsum base plaster board and that is attached with glue and screws to the inside of the wall and the ceiling. Note the wall carries services: power, phone, and water supply. The roof of this particular hopsital is at 30 degrees and will not collapse like some stadium roofs can do in Russia. The same metal profile will be used on the roof with metal flashing over the joints at the hips and ridges.

For domestic housing we can use the same metal roofing for the roofs, and we can supply /concrete board. Yes, concrete impregnated fibre board, that smells like concrete, tastes like concrete and does not burn like concrete, but does not weigh as much as concrete as is not as thick as concrete (Normally either 8mm, 10mm, 12mm 16mm or 20mm thick). Not to be confused with 'fibrous cement' that can have asbestos fibres in the mix. This board can be sealed against the rain and snow and can be used on the internal walls. Also, you can also use the metal cladding on the outside walls if you wish and plywood on the internal walls.

Now what about the cold you say? Well for the hospital, it has insulated metal cladding and roof and insulated cavity walls. All houses can have insulated walls and ceilings using fibre glass batts or polyester batts or sprayed polyurethane depending on the situation.

Houses built with frames, steel or timber, and designed with bracing panels, have proven themselves in all weathers and situations. Stacking stone or bricks an applying mortar or plaster does not guaruantee a strong house - it may be thick and hard, but we all know that thick and hard is not what every one wants. It is what it looks like, a pile of rubble stacked high to fall down low.

Enough with the theoretical banter about mass walls and shear sections already. The Japanese do it, the Americans do it, the English do it, the Aussies do it, the Kiwis do it, and the Turks do it. We all build houses with solid foundations down low and lightweight structures up above with a carefull eye on loose tile roofs and we do not use infill walls and post and column structures. History need not repeat it self again.

Anyway enough for today. Any comments will be accepted and I am serious about these discussions. I am a hands on designer with architecural training and engineering trades. I am a father of five great kids, who loves teaching people how to build, then I love watching them build for themselves. Until the next issue, take care brethren and sisters.
-- David Michael James Davies, December 6, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dave Davies, Woowee!! Instant homes.:)

May I ask what the life-span of a home made using these onsite machines is?

Do you have onsite circular cutters for making stove-pipe or chimney holes?

How do you protect gypsum board, etc from kicks and rough usage by people?

Plus, "unwaterproofed" gypsum plaster soaks up water and disintegrates.

I do not like fibre-glass insulation because as it ages it becomes brittle and snaps into minute glass particles which are very unhealthy to breathe.

Concrete fibre board sounds interesting is this material more robust than gypsum plaster board?

How does air intake, move and exhaust in one these buildings? I am thinking of people breathing moisture inside.

Overall, I am impressed and I would like to see what is built using these onsite machines in the Kashmir. :)))
-- Frank John Snelling, December 7, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
This article ("Dilemma over new quake shelters") on the BBC website might be of interest to the participants of this forum.
-- Shiraz Allibhai, December 13, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank and Chitradeep
ram ram
i have been offline for more than two weeeks now, but the discussion on this forum looks like taking a very interesting shape.
The discussion on the Temorary shelters which over the time tend to stay for minimum of 3 years is i think a very important area of work.
which most of the times seem to escape our focus. with an interesting email from a friend from Newzelend about how we should concentrate on this dilemma of the materials that could be used and in how much quantity, what do we do with these materials after their job is over?
i was thinking this is the area wher bamboo and the building systems of this nature are most effective to start with. and there we can proceed with the discussion.
will send you some of the work i have been doing using bamboo for various applications.
-- Vaibhav Kaley, December 13, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
After going through a very interesting discussion, I thought I'd share with you all my design for the earthquake-affected people. It is called IRAS (Improvised, Rapid, All-weather Shelter). I designed it after a detailed trip to the devastated areas of Balakot and Muzaffarabad.

I borrowed the basic concept from the 2004 Aga Khan Award winning architect Nader Khalili and modified it to suit local conditions. The materials used are plain polypropylene bags (cement, flour, sugar, urea bags), barbed wire and corrugated G.I. (galvanized iron) sheets.

The bags are filled with clay or earth and compacted. Approximately 400 bags are required to make 3'-6" high walls around a 8'-6" x 9'-6" space. Then five CGI sheets are bolted together and put on top of the walls in a vault. The vaulted shape makes the otherwise flimsy sheets load bearing and strong. In higher altitude areas, a single wooden or steel beam is placed under the ridge of the vault to resist the snow-load.

Its on a do-it-yourself basis and one family can make a shelter in 2 days. It can house a family of 5.

Uptil now, 500 of these shelters have been made. Pakistan Army has made a couple of hundred and two NGOs, Australian Aid International (Visit to see the IRAS shelter programme) and Peace Malaysia have made a few hundred as well.

Pakistan Muslim League, the ruling party in Pakistan has also approved the shelter and are in the process of funding more of these.

Comments from worthy contributors are welcome.

Best Regards,
-- Hammad Husain, December 14, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Viabhav, Yes, I agree bamboo poles are an extremly useful of constructing temporary shelters. the only drawback is that bamboo is round and knobbly which makes fixing difficult. But you can split bamboo in half and use half-rounds, or knotch bamboo at junctions, or use thick galvanised steel wire to twist about the junctions, or drill holes through junctions and bamboo peg.

So the real questions are:- How bamboo can be brought into the Kashmir? and how much can be brought in quickly?

Hammad, Your "Improvised Rapid All-weather Shelter" looks fine apart from the bare steel sheeting on top. Heat rises so heat lose is from the top and bare steel sheet will rapidly lose the heat that is in the shelter and vice versa, "wind chill" will transmit the freezing temperature into the shelter.

Snow, if thick enough does act as an insulation blanket, but it would be better to cover the bare steel sheet from the open-air and wind with some material that is more durable.

Plus, a "lobby" (even two layers of heavy plastic sheet set 300 mm apart) at the entrance will help to keep the heat in the shelter during the winter.
-- Frank John Snelling, December 14, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Greetings everyone, Just back from the indian border district of poonch as part of an Ngo involved in relief work there. here is an update.. Industrial materials that come from afar, (plains) are scarce as can be expected, and so expensive. The winter is upon us now and there is no time really to lose for there are those without a roof over their heads, and it can be COLD! So pre-engineered it will have to be for the time being. Fortunately there the damage is not as extensive as I had originally feared, (I have conducted foot survey of the remotest villages in this location), though the poorest have lost the most. That is largely on account that the really poor, had rrm houses whereas the rural but not poor in kashmir generally use a timber beam and post construction of the best sort, embedded within massive RRm. Also the unhappy fact is that the poorest are also those who are most distant from the decision makers (village pecking order) and relief does sometimes get into undeserving (local) hands. It was In the valleys that most house collapses occurred since the roofs are flat and massive (mud) (low precip, defensive structures ) for there is artillery shelling at the lower areas. The guns have only recently (this last year?) been silent. Fortunately for it was morning at the time of the quake there were nearly no casualities. Lot of lovely old (150-200 y) buildings damaged though, and lots of work to be done in the conservation and retro-fitting departments. more l8r, Saurabh
-- Saurabh Popli, December 14, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank
ram ram
Bamboo as you say has some difficulties in terms of its tubular shape and longitivity.
but preceise;y these properties can also be viewed as its strengths, if we apply bamboo intellegently.
But i am not trying to being 'fundamentalist' in promoting only one material, whatever it may be.
In tthe email from James, he is strongly advocating the application of prefabricated steel-structures to provide for the crisis at the hands.

It has been established over and over again that if in the aftermath of disaster, there is inflood of new materials, technologies and systems, under the pretext of providing the cheap and speedy rehabilitation, it has invariably led to disintigration of existing technology and social fabric.
We have to learn from the past mistakes and make ammendments for the future.

In the last 2 decades my guess is that this is 10th critical earthquake which has called in for international aid, and in `india alone we have had many medium sized earthquakes and the reconstruction programs have followed inevitably. and yet there is the same thing which is repeated again and again.

Where do we procure bamoo from? where do you procure Steel and cement from? do you think it is manufactured there in kashmir? no it is going to come all the way from central or Western India. Where are the Cement factories and who is owning them?

The Reconstruction involves huge investments and most of it is in the form of Steel-cement (if we go in for that) and where will the whole money flow to?
The Reconstruction of Buildings if take into account the reconstruction of society on all fronts, like economy, education etc will be more meaningful.
The post-modern thinking which is dominated by 'western' mode of thinking sometimes get itself embroideled in the discussions which will have a predetermined ends, just the wordings and phrasings change.
look at the architectural theories that are floating around-dominating the scene, if one closely looks at them they all are either celebrating or explaining 'Frank gehry and Rem Koolhas' buildings.
well we should not divert??

There was email from jane a long time back regarding the various attempts at developing systems and techniques which are in tandem with the people and provide for the housing needs. The catch is that it needs an involvement from an architect or whoever is executing the project much more on all levels physical, mental and emotional. which in the today's world of 'professionalism' has been termed as 'activist' professionalism. which is very funny but again this shows the 'western' mode of thinking which tends to seperate 'work' from 'culture', from 'plesure'. well may be i am taking i too far. but i feel that there is something that needs to be understood.

vaibhav kaley
-- Vaibhav Kaley, December 15, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Viabhav, I agree, right on target!!! To work backwards through your entry:-

I know what you mean about the Western separation of work from other life activities. In my psychology reading this was shown as "urban humans living fractured lives" because work, hobbies and homes are in different places. It not a Western phenomena rather an urban human phenomena and these fractures form part of the sense of "urban alienation".

This modern urban style of living has an impact upon architecture, because most architects today work in offices and never "on site". This alienation of design from context means many designs look like cardboard cutouts or toys.

I prefer the term "Mimar" to Architect, because the traditional Mimar (Master Builder) always worked on site.

I dislike architectural designers who make their buildings look like "post-disaster failures". Such designs makes me want to take these silly people out to a disaster zone and say "look, and now design something constructive".

Back to reality: Yes, I do understand a lot of inappropriate modern materials are broght into post-disaster areas and cause problems for the local people, but surely the motive is to provide temporary housing as fast as possible by any and all available means.

So, after the immediate urgent need for shelter is done, then longer term more permanent housing is needed which is sustainable by the local people.

But, I realise there is a tendency to forget about the need for long-term housing and leave the local people to live in temporary housing for years.

This temporary fix and forget tendency is nothing new in architecture because many if not most buildings today are designed, built and forgotten by the architect. One hundred years ago it was normal for the architect's name to be put somewhere on the building facade, because architects took pride in their work, whereas today, they are designed in an office off-site and once built usually never visited afterwards.

My own feeling is that post-disaster areas need architects, engineers, etc to relocate there and "work on-site" for some years to ensure the long-term housing is not "quick fix and forget".

Regarding building materials such as bamboo and concrete. I have already put forward the thought of either importing from the wetter areas or longer-term growing bamboo locally. This needs to be looked at as a possible source of strong fibrous building material.

For concrete; I have already explained that there is very little difference between lime (mortar) and cement. To make both lime or cement, it is not necessary to use or import from large scale cement factories. I am sure there are local supplies of limestone rock which can be reduced to powder (if necessary by hand) and then "cooked" to drive out the water or "cooked in a vacuum" (or semi-vacuum (using less fuel). I was thinking along the lines of reusing old steel drums mounted on a wheeled frame as the basis for mobile limestone cookers and then used "on site" as needed by the local people.

Such localised production of building materials will mean the local people have the practical means to "sustain and maintain" their own homes. I feel that this is necessary, because as I said before, (remote) rural areas which do not have "through traffic" need to be able to "DIY" (Do It Yourself).:)))
-- Frank John Snelling, December 15, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Frank, thanks for your input. I know steel is a good conductor of heat and cannot survive without extra insulation. I forgot to mention that the inside of the sheets are covered with 1" thick styrofoam-like insulation. It keeps the inside of the shelter insulated.

In some cases, the occupants were advised to put extra blankets under the steel sheets and they did. Similarly, occupants have, in some cases, used tarpaulin as a cover in front of the door. Yet others have used blankets as curtains.

Uptil now, IRAS is doing fine in snow-covered area as an alternate shelter. Its proven to be a good substitute to a tent.

-- Hammad Husain, December 15, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Hammad, Thank you for the update.

Field housing has many hybrid forms. As I said at the start of this epic, a way to stretch the supply of tent material is to mount the tent on low walls made of earth in sacks or earth and turf.

Your design reminds me of the "Anderson Air-raid Shelter" as used in WWII in Britain for individual families, made of upside down "U" shaped corrugated iron sheets dug into the ground and covered with earth. As a young women my mother was in her family's Anderson shelter in the back garden, when the house across the street was demolished by a direct hit from a German night-time bomber that also blew in all of the doors and windows in her home.
-- Frank John Snelling, December 17, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Frank,
Ram ram
Thank you for the compliment, and as you correctly write in the last mail on this forum, it is turning out to be quite a ��Epic��.

So let us add a few more chapters / pages to it. The word ��post-disaster failures�� seems new. I have not heard about it. True that architects today seems to visit the buildings they design very less, during or after construction. The works are being carried out across the continents by the same architect. So most of time he or she is visiting his works visually.
But probably this is an extension of the way ��architecture�� is being thought about and discussed, predominantly visual in nature. I was trying to discuss this issue with one of the theoretician but we did not proceed much.

The idea of limestone-cooker looks really interesting. Do you have a picture or some sketches, may be some help if I do some work.

This will sure facilitate ��localized�� production of materials and help revolve the money and resources within the community. This process along with construction of houses will help people ��build�� their lives, its my projection and I know a very idealistic. But if you know of such experiments, ir if jane knows, where this process has wither led to successful construction of houses and lives will be interesting.

There is another possibility that the ��idealist�� process may not deliver any results at all, but then we should know if there have been such failures and their records. I am putting this question in a hope that many people who access this forum, may know some examples and case studies which we could learn from.

Your description of a current phenomenon of separating profession from pleasure, from culture-production etc as fractures Urban-alienation, can be looked into further and discussed. The domination of ��Western�� ideology in economic and social development paradigm, has trickled down to this phenomenon. Because urban-cultures across the world are coming to be clones or multiples of Newyorks-Londons-Berlins with some variations.

We can talk about the issue sometimes.

Architects or Engineers relocating themselves in the areas of disaster looks unlikely for many reasons and not just one. Because disaster-housing is part of the professional-practice, which is a bread-winner, but they still want to be in business after that housing is over so holding onto your base is essential. And many other things.
In such a situation what could be the way? The Master-Builder needs to metamorphose into something, which has not happened probably. It is dead and is buried just to visit him yearly with a bunch of flowers.

Coming back to Post-disaster construction and architecture. Shall I take some time!!!!

-- Vaibhav Kaley, December 17, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Viabhav, Thank you. My thought for a "limestone cooker" is "to enable or empower the local people" or to use an earlier phrase "Power to the people".

My thought for the "mobile limestone cooker" is to mount a steel drum (I think the standard drum is 35 gallons?) onto a two-wheeled carriage like a fat cannon barrel on an old gun carriage.

If memory serves, "trunnions" or pins stick out from the middle of the barrel and are seated on top of the carriage, allowing the barrel to be swung from the horizontal to the vertical.

The process then would be as follows:-The barrel is swung horizontal to load limestone powder, swung to the vertical to cook the limestone and then swung horizontal or upside-down to empty.

To cook the limestone in a vacuum or a partial vacuum, a strong lid similar in design to a pressure cooker is needed as well as a safety value! Plus, a vacuum will attempt to implode the drum, so some way of reinforcing the drum sides, lid and bottom would be needed. For the sort of low vacuum I am thinking of, maybe it will be enough to just double the thickness of the drum.

NOTE: Raw material is simply Limestone rocks smashed and crushed to a powder.

For any vacuum process, a reverse pressure gauge is needed and this will allow the user to minimise fuel usage.

In effect, limestone is heated until it starts to give off water vapour and then heated until the there is no more vapour to drive off. Then the resultant dry powder needs to be sealed to keep from re-absorbing water from the air.

Another way would be make a kiln or oven to cook the limestone, but this means the "cooker" is not mobile.

To change the subject slightly, as I said earlier (remote) rural areas which have "no-through traffic" are a problem because every loaded vehicle must do a double journey and therefore transport is twice as expensive to remote areas. So people in remote areas will always have this extra economic burden which reduces their ability to live. So it is better to create small-scale localised raw materials industry to serve their needs than to import from outside.

Subject change: Another way of creating a pool of experienced architects and engineers is push the government for a military "Support Corps" which gives immediate aid in any major disaster?
-- Frank John Snelling, December 18, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Well, gentlemen, it has been a couple of weeks since my last entry and I wondered there for a while if this thread had come to stop, but I am glad that ideas and discussion are continuing.

I am so glad to see the IRAS with vaulted roof has made headway into the area, my concern has been watching loads of straight CGI being taken in, and no precurved sheet although if you have enough power you can curve the stuff on site, however a simple handpowered sheetmetal roller is all that is required to give straight sheet a curve.

I spent 20 plus years in the sheet metal industry and am aware of what is possible. Also the insulation is likely to be polyurethane, sprayed on or it could just be sheet glued on... The cladding and roofing material we are bringig from Kuala Lumpar for the hospitals has the foam already applied. Any way, that is another story.

As for Vaibhav Kaley's entry about how history has taught us that new technology's coming into the region could upset the existing technology and social fabric... Let's put it this way, the 'technology' we are bringing into the area is to 'house' the desparately needed hospitals and treatment centres, you can not successfully treat disease and ill health that has been generated by the surrounding landscape, and general social fabric, if you are going to 'build out of rubble' and try to disinfect it all before running a operation theatre there, now can you? We are building community based hospitals - two of them so far, and supplying electricity and water supplies with them. These buildings wil remain long after we have gone, and as for the comment of the 'architects' needing to live there and get a feeling for the place, well I agree, and as a student and follower of 'Frank Lloyd Wright', I will be living there and getting a feel of the place, and I have gone back to many of the places I have designed and built and they are all still working fine.

Now some comments from our dear friend Frank up in Keshan, Turkey, about the materials we are bringing. We are arriving in the first few weeks of January. I would rather have been there already, no matter can't change the system. Anyway, the gypsum plaster board is never exposed to water. It is an internal lining that has plaster finished joints and paint over it. It is used in the main hospital area so that it can be kept clean, and in some areas will be covered over by 'waterproof' acrylic sheeting, to faciltate the washing of clean areas. The fiberglass insulation will not be the exposed type, we use stuff that is wrapped and enclosed behind cladding, and so will not come in contact with people after completion of the building.

Another point I have been pondering was the thought of using 'exoskeletal' and space frames, similar to that airplanes of yesteryear. Well, I have been in discussion with my fellow mates back in New Zealand, and they all agree, that the method that we use to build our steel frame structures has the same mechanical effect as the spaceframes of which you have been reffering to.
The structure of any thing that has parallel elements and also triangulated braces throughout the structure re-acts to outside movement the same as a space frame. That is how we have made structures survive earthquakes. In New Zealand, Japan and the States, we have been adding diagonal bracing to other wise straight sided wall elements. If you look closely at the picture I posted on the 5th December, you will note that the framing shows diagonal bracing elements in all the wall sections, placed specifically to gove rididness to the walls. Now this framing system does not just tie pieces of steel together with bits of string or rigid welds, no the entire system uses tensile stel rivets that act as pivots and have a tensile shear rating of .9kN each, and since it takes two rivets to make any connection of a stud to the botom or top plates or any other member, we have a resistive - rotative force at each junction of 1.8kN. No nails are used in this structure, only steel rivets and self drilling TEK screws, which also have a minumum tensile shear value of .9kN.

With entire structure bolted down to a 'raft' concrete pad, that does not have 'deep' set piles, or point loads, the whole floor carries the wall and roof loads, there are no 'columns, posts or beams', the entire structure works on a UDL 'universally distributed load' every wall spreads the load over it's length to the floor, which has a 'perimeter ground beam' and no 'piles and pads' which are the worst to use in a land scape where the earth moves, for example imagine the stress these 'piles' go thru when an earthquake strikes and moves the 'ground' 3 feet in one direction. And then 4 feet the other way, these piles and pads have no where to go except to collapse, because the fulcrum movement of the ground to the relatively motionless building cause a fracture at the point of contact at the base where these piles and posts enter the ground. Just look at how your buildings have collapsed, the evidence is there for all to see.

Anyway, on the style of construction we use, the building is braced in itself, and is bolted to the concrete raft, that is reinforced with steel in the floor, but does not have piles connected it rigidally to the earth deep beneath, so when the earth moves, the building floats across the surface, interconnecting services, pipes etc may shear, but the building will stand. We have tested and retested this method for the last 40 years and it works. On some of our larger buildings in NZ, we have set the entire buildings on 'flexible' bearings and the interconnecting service pipes have 'flexible' connections too. So the whole building 'floats' above the moving earth, a bit like your ship at sea.

Anyway enough for today. Oops, not quite... The use of bamboo idea, it's OK if you can get enough of it, and can make it flat, how about following what has happened in the Phillipines, they used waste fibres from the local sugar mills and wove them into sheets to used as cladding framing, and they used steel frame. Are there any large scale agricultural industries that have fibrous by products? Look at this article:
. It was in the back of my files and it is rather interesting.

Ciao for now,
-- David Michael James Davies, December 18, 2005
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Did you mean `Hello David'.

I though that David had updated us.

David in case you are around & have time to look at this forum, I would be interested in your progress.
-- Chitradeep Sengupta, March 4, 2006
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Chitradeep, I was adding an entry as a way to keep the issue alive. Maybe governments around the world could offer "pro bono work" (for the public good) contracts to architects to go and work in disaster areas?
-- Frank John Snelling, March 6, 2006
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dear Aurfan,

I feel we can use shipping containers to house them. I know this sounds radical and irrrational but it is definately a better option than tents, as we know that they are strong and durable. In the long run they are economical as the re-sale value will be good as scrap metal. With a little modification they can be used as a HOUSE if not a HOME.

-- Girish Vishwanath, May 29, 2006
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

Using shipping containers as houses or homes is unorthodox, but not irrational. I assume you refer to the steel containers carried by ships on sea and carried by truck on land?

In a sense these containers are the modern commerical fornm of caravans. The original caravans which crossed Asia used camels, yaks, horses, etc. In Britain, horse-drawn covered wagons were called caravans when used by the Romany people. This word then entered the language and later people began using horse-drawn "caravans" for summer holidays. Then in the 1930s small caravans started to be towed behind cars for holiday use.

Across the Atlantic in America, a similar form was made but was called a "mobile home" and probably owes its origin to the horse-drawn covered wagons used to colonise the American West. The orginal towed mobile home appeared again in the 1930s (?) and later self-propelled versions came and which today are known as "RVs" (Recreational Vehicles).

I believe that just after WW2 there was a need to convert the wartime economy factories back to civilian production and so both static and mobile "prefabricated housing" became an growth industry. On a visit to the USA in the 1980s I recall seeing half of a (prefab) house being carried on the back of a truck from the factory.

Meanwhile in Britain, there was the commercial development of "modular portable buildings" similar in size and shape to shipping containers ("Portacabin" etc) and usually used for temporary office space (such as for large scale building sites). Plus, steel shipping containers are used on building sites as secure tool stores.

The problem with using steel shipping containers as houses or homes is that (a) you would need to cut holes for the intake of fresh air and light; and the exhaust of moisture and used air, and (b) sheet steel does not insulate either the cold or the heat, so you would need to (a) insulate the sheet steel from the outside cold (cover the steel in wood or straw) and shade the complete structure from the sun's heat (cover with a tent sail).
-- Frank John Snelling, May 30, 2006
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis

I am aware of these drawbacks of the shipping containers. Well, if you have noticed, I mentioned that we need to modify them before using them. Thanks for your suggestions, really appreciate it.
-- Girish Vishwanath, June 4, 2006
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Dave Davies? On UK TV (BBC1) there was news about what is happening (or rather not is not happening) on the issue of rehousing people after the earthquake one year ago today. There was mention of a new hospital being built and the views showed a prefab building, so I assume this is one of the hospitals your company is building? :)))
-- Frank John Snelling, October 8, 2006
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
well John....just came online to see what new news there was and saw you response from October 2006....yeah that was probably the hospital we were building..but no it was not prefabed...the framing was designed and made on site...the wall cladding -long run steel panels were formed with polyurethane between steel and a plastic lining were fixed to the external walls, the internal walls and ceilings were clad in 12mm plasterboards. The finished building does not look like a was all built on site...very much like we build in New Zealand and Australia...any way yeah it was good seeing the locals enjoy their new safe hospital.
-- David Michael James Davies, September 7, 2007
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Why can't it be prefabed?
I think plenty of prefab houses is suitable as Kashmir earthquake shelters.
After a modular building is constructed, it is trucked to its home site, where the foundation and other amenities are added. Because of the necessity of trucking modular homes to their eventual locations, the modular home is actually built stronger and tougher than a house built on site.

Here I just found an article talking about it.

Hope it helps.
-- Jerry Nakata, December 28, 2007
Kashmir earthquake shelter crisis
Jerry, The reason why most building in the interior of countries is usually homemade and traditional is because of the cost of transporting materials works against the import of materials which can be used on site, never mind and cost of transporting whole walls, etc which is prohibitive and probably needs both new and stronger roads for the new and larger than normal trucks.

In other words to import whole walls, etc on trucks, then a whole new road network would have to be build first.
-- Frank John Snelling, December 29, 2007


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