Challenges, opportunities, and solutions in low-cost building envelopes: A case study of low-strength masonry systems

Esther Obonyo, Peter Donkor, Fabio Matta, Ece Erdogmus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In addition to addressing the basic need of shelter, building envelopes must address concerns of load transfer, energy efficiency, durability, and resilience with respect to natural and human-produced disasters, among other structural and aesthetic concerns. This paper discusses the key barriers to the use of low-tech compressed earth blocks in a resilient and sustainable manner. The paper also presents a process improvement approach through which low-tech masonry approaches can be used to provide a context-appropriate, cost-effective resilient solution. Typical compressive strength values of masonry can range from 7 MPa to 20 MPa for commonly used concrete masonry units (CMU). Compressed earthen masonry usually peaks at somewhere between 3 and 5 MPa. When working with these lower numbers, general concerns arise from masonry being an elastic-brittle material and become more significant. This paper adopts a process improvement approach to propose a stabilization strategy that can be used to enhance the quality of blocks produced. Fibers are included in the blocks in this research to address susceptibility to local failure when the masonry is exposed to impact load from, for example, flying debris in a high wind region. The process improvement approach is used to optimize the use of fiber in compressed earth blocks and also explore the feasibility of using a low-strength, soil-cement mortar to achieve strength compatibility with the optimized blocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConstruction Research Congress 2014
Subtitle of host publicationConstruction in a Global Network - Proceedings of the 2014 Construction Research Congress
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Pages564-573
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780784413517
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event2014 Construction Research Congress: Construction in a Global Network, CRC 2014 - Atlanta, GA, United States
Duration: May 19 2014May 21 2014

Publication series

NameConstruction Research Congress 2014: Construction in a Global Network - Proceedings of the 2014 Construction Research Congress

Conference

Conference2014 Construction Research Congress: Construction in a Global Network, CRC 2014
CountryUnited States
CityAtlanta, GA
Period5/19/145/21/14

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction

Cite this

Obonyo, E., Donkor, P., Matta, F., & Erdogmus, E. (2014). Challenges, opportunities, and solutions in low-cost building envelopes: A case study of low-strength masonry systems. In Construction Research Congress 2014: Construction in a Global Network - Proceedings of the 2014 Construction Research Congress (pp. 564-573). (Construction Research Congress 2014: Construction in a Global Network - Proceedings of the 2014 Construction Research Congress). American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). https://doi.org/10.1061/9780784413517.0058