Vaulted Roof Technique

“The vaulted roofing system using conical tile has been developed and used by Centre of Science for Villages, Wardha, Maharashtra for the last four decades. The roof is easy to construct and uses local materials and skills.”

Watch until the end. The metal trusses are removed and reused.

Rural Housing Knowledge Network
Thanks again to Jay for finding this site.

17 thoughts on “Vaulted Roof Technique”

  1. Malcom,

    Sorry if it offended you. Offending wasn’t my intent, but the Ghost clip was entirely intended as a joke. Yes, I suspect that you can probably find just about anything on the internet these days, including people doing all kinds of unmentionable things around vibrating equipment. You don’t need to post video proof. I’ll accept your word on that point.

    The dude sitting at his pottery wheel in the video does not appear to be doing anything I would consider sexy. Then again, HE DOES HAVE A JOB. Not only that, he is doing his job very well. He is earning money to feed his family. In all seriousness, what could possibly be more sexy to a woman than a man that actually has a job and is supporting his family?

    (Besides a guy wearing expensive aftershave smelling like a musk gland near the anus of a wild boar and driving a gas guzzling sports car and living off his parents’ trust fund. That’s what all the TV Commercials promote isn’t it?)

    How many butt-ugly guys are able to get married and have a family simply because they are gainfully employed? Have you seen some of the ugly kids that get brought into this world? Where does everyone think ugly offspring come from anyway?

    (The latter three questions are rhetorical and jocular in nature. Just thought I’d make that abundantly clear.)

    I guess I’m posting in support of all the poor butt-ugly guys in the world. May they be gainfully employed, get married, support their families, and perpetuate the species in all its less than perfect attractiveness.

    I think that’s better than poor ugly kids starving to death just so Darwin can be correct about Natural Selection culling the herd and producing beautiful plumage.

    Work hard ugly guys. Somebody has to do all the hard work so that the pretty boys can be slackers and jerks.

  2. Have you EVER seen a people doing anything like this around an extrusion machine?
    As a matter of fact, yes. I somehow suspect providing the link would violate group rules, but to help visualize, most industrial equipment vibrates. Also, reality of pottery work is nowhere near as sexy as the movie makes it out to be, I know I can’t make it anywhere near as quickly or uniformly as the guy in the roofing clip, and paying someone who could in the US would cost more than just timber framing a roof. Now, give me a day or two and a few bucks and I could build a crude extruder from two empty soda bottles and a caulking gun. Give me an air compressor and I could automate it. Now I’m paying $0 for labor, a few dollars for equipment I’m not going to be able to reuse, and materials I’d need to pay for anyway.

  3. Jay I could be way wrong but, I’m guessing these people work with what they have. If there’s a better way, they may not be able to do it for numerous reasons.

  4. Good points Owen. However, is the potter wheel really the step in the process with low efficiency? Could better production be gained by improving other steps in the process?

    The first place I would want to improve would be the efficiency of that kiln. It’s not particularly fuel efficient, and that type of design is notorious for uneven heating causing a lot of fractured or failed pots. I suggest more time, money, and labor is wasted on that kiln than on the clay forming process.

    The second place to improve might be a solar drying shed. Insufficient drying is a prime cause of pottery failures. Air drying is fine when the product is just off the wheel, but finishing the drying process off with a few days or a week in a big solar dryer would probably increase the success rate dramatically.

    and… If I haven’t convinced everyone yet…

    Have you EVER seen a people doing anything like this around an extrusion machine?

    Which method looks better NOW??!!

    I think my point is made.

  5. Perhaps they could be extruded, but why bother?

    That dude sitting at the spinning wheel is cranking them out pretty fast, and he has a job. I’m pretty sure that wages in that part of the world are very economical too.

    You could pay him to make many thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands or more, for the price of one extrusion machine.

    I say let that potter feed his family. If you want to improve production, maybe get him a stool to sit on and elevate his potters wheel to a comfortable height to save back strain.

    If you want to increase production, hire him a few apprentices and put more people to work at potter’s wheels.

    Technology can often do great things. Sometimes the simple solution makes the most sense.

    Just my opinion.

    • I can see it both ways. It may depend on where you live. Cheap labor? Then hire people like this guy in the video. Need an extruder because labor is high? Then figure out how to make one cheaply. I’ve seen extruders made from salvage junk that cost almost nothing. Always look for dirt cheap options.

  6. This is an intriguing idea. Tiles could easily be extruded onto a conical form which is then removed after the clay begins to set. The finishing stages reminds me of the timbrel vaulting technique previously posted in this blog.

  7. What about building those conical tile arches, but incline the first arch against a wall. Then lean each successive arch against the previous one.

    Conical Nubian. “Conuban?”

    Eliminates the need for all that metal formwork.

  8. I like circles, curves, swaying or undulating lines and forms. I am visually fascinated by hyperbolic shapes. Vaulted roofs always capture my attention. I realize there is math behind it, but it almost seems like vaulted shapes bear loads by “magic”! This technique, so practical and so beautiful.

  9. Wow! That looks wonderful. I wonder if a ready-made conical shape could be found, like plastic bottles, to replicate this.

    What conical nesting materials do we have? Or maybe an interlocking brick.

    • Keep thinking and working along these lines. This sounds promising. The handmade conical tiles are very slow to make. The basic idea could surely be improved upon.

  10. Once again, I wish for subtitles. Two questions come to mind. 1) What were they coating the conical tiles with? It looks like cement, but the way the guy just casts it on really puts the thin in thin set. 2)What kind of insulation would it provide if sealed top and bottom? The dead air would be nice, but the clay could cause significant thermal bridging.

    • It’s cement plaster. They added too much water, which weakens cement plaster and concrete considerably. But this is common in poor countries because cement is expensive.

      There are lots of similar roof videos on YouTube. Search for the term brick roof.

      Roofs like this are commonly in hot dry climates like Mexico and India, where the level of thermal resistance is sufficient. Use white roof coating for waterproofing and to reflect sunlight. The interior could be left unfinished.


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