For the first two weeks, I went on several field trips with some students and teachers from SJVTC (St.John’s Vocational Training Center). The goal of these trips was trying to understand the local materials and resources and related industries. Furthermore, I also tried to see and learn from the local traditions in order to design something more culturally and environmentally suitable for the local community . We went to a surrounding village called Kadkkamunai to visit a local brick workshop and to see some local housing construction techniques.
The brick making workshop normally locates at the site where has clayey soil. A few workers first remove the top soil and then dig out the sub-soil from the ground.
A worker added water into the soil to get the right moisture for the clay mixing.
Meanwhile, a worker started to make bricks out of the wet clay with the wooden mode.
The bricks then would be stacked and stored for drying under the sun for three days to remove the water and gain extra strength.
And then the bricks would be fired for another two days to achieve maximum strength.
A hand-made fired brick costs around 9 rupees (0.07usd) in the local village, including the transportation cost.
Different gravel sizes of the soil.
Taking some sample soil back for further testing.
In the village, people used to have the tradition of building houses with only mud and wood branches. Such house is fairly strong and cheap, and it works along with Sri Lanka’s hot and humid climate due to the soil’s nature. The mud house keeps the heat out in summer and maintains the heat inside in winter. But the villagers stop making such houses because they believe mud and branch are the symbols of poverty.
Here was an abandoned shelter in the local village. This shelter was entirely constructed by clay and tree branches.
These shelters could last for a very long period of time with careful maintenance.
A local woman showed us how to polish the mud floor with cow dung, a cheap and accessible material in the local village. The floor became shiny and waterproof by applying the cow dung on its surface.
The coconut tree is a very common tree in Sri Lanka. We also paid a visit to a workshop that makes products out of dry coconut coir.
The workers in the workshop gave us a demonstration on how to make a rope out of coconut coir with a simple bicycle wheel.
Here are some other products that were made by these ropes.
Taking a sample back for further study.
Read more about my project here: