Going into the project, there was little known information about the local methods and labor. Upon arrival and after examining the local methods the team decided to adopt a system that is composed of a concrete structural frame with infill block walls and a wood roof construction. It is systematically not unlike construction methods found in other parts of the world but becomes unique and efficient in the details and the processes that local labor was able to teach the construction team. Previous construction knowledge was both helpful and challenged. The remoteness of the site required that we worked quickly on our feet and were innovative with the limited tools and knowledge we had at our disposal.
Local construction manuals were found at a bookstore on the way back from Brazil. The manual gives insight into the local methods utilized which we discovered in a more hands-on manner. also documented.
link to construction manual
There were various locals who played key roles in advising us towards a more efficient way of construction as well as operating in the local field conditions. Tito who is a very talented guide for the Jaguar Ecological Lodge, was integral in a wide range of tasks from proper fence construction to plumbing repair to fashioning stakes. Gerstioni, a driver and guide for Jaguar Ecological Lodge, is the Jack-of-all-trades and was one of our go to guys. He keyed us into some of the other field conditions such as operating the generator and maintaining some of the equipment around. Elano is a pedreiro who was working at another lodge up road. He lent us and fabricated some tools that proved to make the construction process much more efficient. Joam was the building master who was on site with us from week four onwards. He began as a strong force pushing the project forward but developed some questionable work habits which introduced added complications to the construction process.
top to bottom: Gersione, attempting to fix the perpetually broken concrete mixer; Elano, introduct=ing us to a quick and easy way to bend rebar; Tito, fashioning stakes; Joam, taking a mid-day break
In order to better understand local building technique and methodology the design-build team examined, closely, various local buildings on the Transpantaniera and in the city of Pocone. The team also visited a residential project that was under construction and met with the foreman Claudio who walked us through some of the systems and costs of specific materials. The knowledge of the local people who were involved in the project provided a continuous stream of more efficient techniques and tools to help the job along. This included integral elements such as sourcing power from the diesel run generator and ranch style fencing to fend of the cattle that would pull up formwork stakes.
The details to the right show (top) rebar that is embedded in the column (block filled with concrete), that acts as a tie down for the veranda beam. This provides the resistance needed for any uplift caused by winds. The typical formwork installation is done after the block wall is built and includes (middle) 2cm wood planks that are attached to the block with wire (much like bailing wire). Rebar is a common building material and when constructing the rebar cage that is used on concrete columns and bond beams a rectangular stirrup is needed to maintain the cage shape. This integral component is bent to form via (bottom) a site constructed rebar bender that is made of nails in a board and angle iron with a hole drilled in it to slip over the nail head.
link to construction manual