Category Archives: Masonry

Architectural Technologist – Frost or Freeze Thaw Ice attack

Stone wall attacked by frost
Image by Scays via Flickr

I have looked into this problem with the main stream building products like brickwork , but whilst way on hols in Vienna, I happen to walk past a rather grand building with the lower band of the ground floor made from dressed stone, and many of the dressed stone blocks, and these are not small, say 1800 x 900 mm, many of then had been attacked by ice flaking of quite large chunks of the stone, now how do you stop this, stone is a natural material, and its manufacture is not open to quality control other than its cutting and sizing, perhaps there lies the answer, as contacting God, to complain that the granite is of poor quality and needs to be sent back, just is not on, so perhaps the quality control can look at the final product and check for fissures and cracks that might lead to freeze thaw problems, then there is the actual performance of the building, is there a thermal condensation problem, or is it a performance problems from passing traffic. In this case I think it’s the fissure problem, but the building seems to have been there for some time, at least 50 years, or just post the 1945 war. So the CPD here is a lot more complicated than at first appears, cold climate, long periods of very cold weather, hot internal buildings, modern car spashs I think there is a lot to go at here…….. I will add or expand this as I can in the future.


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Architectural Technologist – Hanging Wall tile design

Wall tiling - Brickwork interface
Image by Scays via Flickr

This photo of a house in Bournemouth is a classic detail of a hanging wall tile detail done correctly. Not only has the bottom course of tiles been thrown out by a very nice brick throat detail, of two courses of bull nose bricks, but the tile hanging coming in at right angles is also neat and tidy, the brick detail is so good, that even after say 50 years, there is no marking of rain on the wall, and the detail looks like it was done yesterday. Also note the corner, the tiles are hand-made corner tiles and not but jointed with lead soakers, this is a class design that in its day cost a lot to have done. I have done several hanging wall tile designs of late and have used this design to great effect.


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Architectural Technologist – Stone Arch

St Stevens Church Main arch]
Image by Scays via Flickr

Ok so I have been walking about some of Europe’s best examples of Medieval Architecture, and looking at the detail, well its my thing is suppose, but there is loads to learn, in St Stevens in Vienna, I noticed that the main entrance arch is a perfect curve, unusual in a church, but the two side orders were not so wide and taller, in what I say is a Norman arch,but looking closer, I suddenly realised that the radius of all the arches was the same, the original builders had used the same formwork and store format making life so much easier, and reducing the number of specials, Neet. I have only one shot of the side arch here, but go onto my Flickr account to see the central arch.

Am I going to claim and CPD for this, yep, I think its worth at least 1/2 hour, because once I had realised what the original Stone Masons had done I went looking for other clues, and realised that many of the ornate columns were made up of only 3 or 4 different templates, often only 2. Sustainability is not a new issue, these guys were well aware of the need to conserve stone and design around standard sections. I can now see that many stone masons were just carving the same section, day after day.


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Architectural Technologist – Solid Pew

Church pew in St Stevens Vienna 2
Image by Scays via Flickr

As always, I was on hols, but still keeping an eye open for detail that looks good, and in this case, whilst wondering about the main Church in the very Centre of Vienna, St Stevens, I saw this detail of the timber pew, solid and robust, but elegant, and meaningful, dam uncomfortable, but hey that was not in the designers mind, for the occupant to be to comfortable, I have no idea what the timber is, it’s well-worn and sealed with time, but it was the molding that caught my eye, both in the horizontal and the vertical, a statement that this set of pews were just a little more special than the rest of the seated areas, which are just arranged chairs.

Whats the CPD, well I will research the reason for the special pews, but most of my CPD will be the shape and form, the molding, oh and get the space for the legs, I’m 6’2″ ish and I had to ease myself in., but kneeling was out of the question.

More photos on my Flickr account.


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Architectural Technologist – Worlds first iPhone stone app

IMG_2456
Image by Scays via Flickr

Now this is like it, simple but so effective, if your into stone and want a good screen photo of stome finish’s them load the lapicida \design -in-stone app from the app store, I did, its free and well worth free, in fact I might have paid for it, its so good.


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Architectural Technologist – Frost action on a concrete plynth

frost action
Image by Scays via Flickr

Whilst I was walking today, I can across this little detail, why build a wall in this manner is beyond me, but it there and up until now working, all be it for one small section thats now begone to deteriorate, why, I suspect, is down to frost action, freezing water thats got into a crack and forced the concrete away, that and perhaps a section of rebar being to close to the surface, when I exploded the photo, the rebar looks at a reasonable depth, , but I’m still of the opinion that water was the main culprit, seeping in, and causing corrosion, but more lightly freeze thaw action was the main problem here. Whats the way out of this, quickly find a replacement capping stone and fit, before it gets any worse. Can I repair it insitue, I have tried this before with mixed results, I used a specialist concrete repair company that matched the profile with an epoxy resin, but in this case, I think replace is the best option.

I’m claiming 1/2 CPD for this, its quality learning, looking at problems you see all around you, capturing the detail and thinking about what caused the problem and how to fix it, but more, can I avoid this in the future as I detail.


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Architectural Technologist – Natural Stone Specialist

Typical Stone Balcony in Malta
Image by Scays via Flickr

I get just loads of magazines in the post, and most, I have to say are very poor, it takes a really good cover and subject title to break me from the ease and fluidity of the web, and Natural Stone Specialist might just be one of those magazines that will grab my attention and break me away from the screen. First its a subject I like, second stone has a feel and life force that no other material can come close to, so when a free 3 month trial of Natural Stone falls into my lap, I instantly thought cool, no don’t get me wrong, I will not spend money subscribing, unless its a serious online resource,which it has and I’m seriously tempted,  but its grabbed my attention and its a fair read, with some excellent articles on both domestic and commercial stone use, with a really useful NHBC min spec for roofing slates, plus a really excellent article on the renovation of Compton House in Liverpool, a grade two listed building. done by Burnaby Stone.

I think I can claim at least 1/2 hour CPD by reading through this mag and following up on the many leads. and trawling through the web site, very good loads of info and the ticker box on the loading page has some interesting dates, excellent. logon and register still needs work guys !.


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Architectural Technologist – Natural Stone

Think_stone_v1
Image by Scays via Flickr

I have to admit, I have a working relationship with The Stone Federation, but this is not going to stop me from pointing out the various CPD benefits that can be gained by dropping into their site. The Stone Data link show all sorts of info from stone types, location of raw materials, to a comprehensive list of publications. The podcast is now up with the first issue, and the second will be up very shortly, and although the 2010 seminar list is still 2009, their new list I was assured will be up very shortly, I have attended many of them, as a camera man filming the lectures and as an attendee, they are excellent. They are on twitter now    (Stonefederation)   together with Facebook, both worth linking to make sure you do not miss their updates.


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Architectural Technolgist – Snowdon’s new £8.4 million visitor centre

Snowdon new building
Image by Scays via Flickr

Its been some time since I last went to the top of Snowdon, I used to climg there in my youth, recently I went back and went to the top as a passenger on the famous rack and pinion railway. but it could not go to the top due to the cafe that is there being replaced. This short review is about the logistical nightmare of building on top of Snowdow in all weathers.

When Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister of Wales, openedSnowdon’s new £8.4 million visitor centre last week it marked the end of what Ian Mercer describes as “logistically the most difficult job I have ever undertaken.” Ian is managing director of Prestwich based stone masonry and stone cladding specialists Stone Specialists Stone Central (NW) ltd, a member of Stone Federation Great Britain.
His company’s role in the project, on behalf of contractor Carillion, was to install the 150 sections of granite bullnose which edge the roof and 370 square metres of granite cladding. The centre, which replaced a 1935 building, has been designed to blend in with the landscape and cope with extreme weather.
“The job itself was straightforward enough but because is was Britain’s highest building site – 1,085 metres up on the summit – and constantly hit by bad weather, it was logistically very difficult,” Ian explained. At the summit winds can reach 150 mph, the annual rainfall is more than 5m and the temperature can be as low as minus 20 degrees centigrade.
Ian had a team of eight men working on the project, and men and materials had to be transported to site on Snowdon’s 113-year-old rack and pinion mountain railway, with a special flat-bed trailer being built to carry the materials.  “If all was well my men set out at 7am and reached the top an hour later. But regularly they would get two thirds of the way up and have to wait for a couple of hours because the wind was too strong for them to go higher until it calmed down. A total of 72 working days were lost on this project simply because of bad weather”
Stone Central began work in July 2007 and then had to leave the site in November as winter closed in. They resumed in May 2008 and had completed their part of the scheme by August.

“Everyone is really pleased with our work and it’s great to know that the centre will now be used by up to half a million visitors to one of Britain’s most famous beauty spots,” said Ian.

Jane Buxey, Chief Executive of Stone Federation Great Britain commented: “Once again a member of the federation has demonstrated the skill, expertise and sheer determination needed to overcome the most difficult of tasks. We congratulate Ian and all his team on a job well done.”

So wheres the CPD, just about everywere, from high speed wind on a design to building so high away from main delivery routes, to safe working at this altitues and conditions. I think there is plenty to go at.

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Architectural Technologist – Stone mulion replacement

Stone mulion replacement
Image by Scays via Flickr

I recently saw this stone mullion replacement at Durham cathedral, and took a photo.  I often see this sort of repair ongoing in many old stone buildings,making a copy of the original is no problem,and the weather will make the stone blend in with the original in time, but I wonder if cleaning the original remaining stone immediately adjacent to the new insert might have helped slightly, on reflection perhaps not I would rather let time do its work. I suppose the CPD here is many fold, but for me it’s about the need to replace stone, when, and what with, the Stone federation have many experts on hand to help with this sort of problem, but my cpd is to start research into mason techniques, matching the stone, in texture and shape, jointing and stability.

More photos on the flickr account

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